Ed. Note: With the draft just hours away, we wanted to give our readership an opportunity to peer into the soul of the season’s most controversial figure: the anonymous scout. What follows is an account from an ‘anonymous scout’ who may or may not be a real scout and may or may not be a real person. But he’s happy to judge you nonetheless.
It’s exhausting being in such high demand. From beat reporters to national “NFL insiders,” to all of you fans out there, everyone wants a piece of the good old “anonymous scout.” It happens every spring. One day, I’m sitting in my garage poring over film, and the next I’m being wined and dined by Adam Schefter as he scrounges for tidbits of inside information. (That’s why he’s the best in the biz!) Heck, I can even do something completely outlandish like equate a prospect’s cooking skills to their maturity level, and you all will eat it up like Eli Apple’s famous breakfast.
But the high price for all that fame is the barrage of criticism I have to endure. And it seems to get worse every year. They say: “anonymous scout” has never put on pads, so what does he know; why can’t “anonymous scout” attach his real name to his opinion, what is he afraid of; or even that “anonymous scout” is intentionally providing false information to spoil other teams’ view of prospects that his team wants to pick. (Actually, that last one is completely true.)
Even current NFL players are piling on. I mean, just look at what Bears OL Kyle Long tweeted at me today:
Dear Anonymous Scouts,— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) April 27, 2016
People with Earned Identities
I’d say the same to you, Kyle, but I’ve seen your slide protection technique on a backside stunt, and frankly don’t think it’s necessary. (That's just a little scout humor for you folks.)
So when SI.com offered me a chance to write this column, I jumped at the opportunity. Finally, a chance to tell my story. Anonymously, of course.
Ever since I read To Kill a Mockingbird in the eighth grade, I knew this was the job for me. You see, I really identified with the main character from that book...Boo Radley. (Who’d you think I was going to say?) Here was a recluse and apparent miscreant, but underneath it all, he had a heart of gold and simply recoiled from the flawed humanity that surrounded him. He wanted to stay inside. The same is true with me, but, like Boo, I’m compelled to leave my sanctuary each spring to expose the failings of each year’s NFL draft crop.
Take Christian Hackenberg, for example. As I told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, this is a guy who hangs out with team managers and, thus, clearly “likes to be king of the little people rather than king of the big people.” Unless your name is Gulliver, that’s not a good attribute in a QB.
Then there’s Connor Cook, who notoriously wasn’t voted captain of his college football team. I had the chance to peer deep into his soul and could immediately tell that “there’s something off. There’s something about him that you just don’t trust him.” How do I know this? Call it “scout’s intuition.” I can also sense earthquakes, tornadoes, and whether your spouse has been cheating on you.
Sometimes people ask me: what do you do the other months of the year when an NFL draft isn’t on the horizon? Don’t worry, I keep myself busy. I spend a lot of time posting reviews on Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Zocdoc and local zoning variance applications. You name it, I’ve reviewed it. One of my favorite hobbies is to test and review prospective nannies in the town I live in (Springfield). This one nanny I just reviewed, Cardalita, had a great set of measurables—including the fastest three-bottle drill and diaper change times I had ever seen—but was clearly a poor (wo)man’s Mrs. Doubtfire. So I’d take a pass on her if you can get yourself a Poppins, Von Trapp, or even Mr. Belvedere type.
Of course, by tomorrow night, no one will care what the old “anonymous scout” has to say for another eleven months. By then, all 32 teams (I mean 31, sorry Patriots!) will have put their money where my mouth is and made their first round selections, with rounds two-through-seven to follow shortly thereafter. Sadly, that’s when my prognostications ultimately give way to on-field performance, something I frankly have no idea how to measure.
At that point, I’ll ride off into the sunset, content to take my energies elsewhere. There’s a B&B in the Shenandoah Valley where I’ve been dying to place my stamp of anonymous disapproval. Yeah, they say they can cook, but I’ve had their breakfast. And it’s terrible.