Every year in late April, 254 former college football players get drafted to play football for one of the 32 teams in the National Football League. These players constantly work on their craft in their quest to become a great player and help the team win a Superbowl. Draft day is a big day for NFL teams, but the process of finding these players does not begin in April. In fact, it begins when these players are in college football.
All NFL teams have a scouting department on their payroll, they are an essential part of a team’s success choosing players for the future. Scouting department begins in the prior August or September where teams assemble draft boards for the final year’s draft. Draft Boards consist of players that teams are targetting for the draft, usually, players on draft boards are intended to fill a void or a weakness in a team. When the college football season starts in late August, NFL Scouts are on it watching these players games.
Starting in January, plans start to become more solidified. At this time, the college football regular season is concluding and the playoffs are decided. In College Football due to the number of football teams and the fact that programs schedule their own games, the playoffs can’t be determined based on records. This principle is on the fear programs will schedule their games against inferior opponents. Instead, the playoff is selected by the Associated Press and poll given to all coaches. It is their role to choose the top 4 college football teams using factors like common opponents, the strength of schedule, and their record has given the schedule. Ranked teams 1 and 4 play a game, and ranked teams 2 and 3 play a game bracket style with the team that wins each game facing off against each other. A team making the playoff is significant because it allows a certain player to get primetime recognition and develop their brand. In the NFL, by January the playoffs have been determined so all teams know around where they are drafting and what players are realistic for them.
In early Feburary, a Superbowl has been crowned and in late February, the NFL combine starts. This is essentially where all draft picks work out getting physically measured by scouts, demonstrating their strengths, and getting interviewed. Around March, potential draft picks host a pro day at their college. Essentially like the NFL Combine, these players host their own workouts that scouts are invited to. These workouts are more for the player and dictated at the player’s pace. This is the final time a player is working out before they get on a potential NFL Team.
In between the Pro Day and Draft Day NFL team conduct interviews with players, their families, and friends to see the intangibles a player possesses. At the same time scouts reassess their draft boards, to ensure the best player is being picked and the player fits the team’s needs. In late April, the NFL Draft takes place a new cycle of scouting begins.