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Attention to Detail: What scouts look at when breaking down film of college football players?

Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders projected NIL value continues to rise now close to 4 million
Attention to Detail: What scouts look at when breaking down film of college football players?

NFL Draft Diamonds has been breaking down film of college football players for years. We have always turned every stone to find diamonds in the rough, and we are asked all the time, what we look at when breaking down film.

I think when scouting college football players you must evaluate various attributes and skills that can translate to success at the professional level. Here are some tips for scouting college players effectively:

Tips on Scouting

  1. Understand the Position:
    • Know the key attributes and skills required for the position you are scouting.
    • Different positions have different physical and technical requirements.
  2. Evaluate Against Quality Competition:
    • Pay attention to how players perform against top-tier opponents.
    • Dominating lesser competition is less indicative of future success, but is still super important.
  3. Look for Consistency:
    • Consistent performance over multiple games and seasons is a strong indicator of reliability and potential.
  4. Consider the System and Scheme:
    • Take into account the college team’s offensive or defensive system and how it might affect the player’s performance.
    • Some systems may inflate or hide a player’s true abilities.

Position-Specific Tips


  • Accuracy and Decision-Making:
    • Look for consistent accuracy in various types of throws (short, intermediate, deep).
    • Assess decision-making under pressure and ability to read defenses.
  • Arm Strength and Mechanics:
    • Evaluate arm strength and the ability to make all necessary throws.
    • Check for proper throwing mechanics and footwork.
  • Poise and Leadership:
    • Observe how the quarterback handles pressure and leads the team.
    • Look for intangibles like leadership and resilience.

Running Backs

  • Vision and Patience:
    • Look for the ability to see holes and wait for blocks to develop.
    • Assess decision-making in choosing running lanes.
  • Burst and Speed:
    • Evaluate initial burst through the line and top-end speed.
    • Observe acceleration and ability to change direction.
  • Pass Protection and Receiving:
    • Check skills in pass protection and catching out of the backfield.
    • Versatility can add significant value.

Wide Receivers

  • Route Running and Separation:
    • Assess ability to run precise routes and create separation from defenders.
    • Evaluate quickness in and out of breaks.
  • Hands and Catching Ability:
    • Look for consistent catching ability, especially in contested situations.
    • Assess hand strength and concentration.
  • Yards After Catch (YAC):
    • Evaluate ability to gain extra yards after the catch.
    • Look for agility, vision, and elusiveness.

Offensive Linemen

  • Footwork and Balance:
    • Assess quickness and balance in both pass protection and run blocking.
    • Evaluate ability to maintain a good base and leverage.
  • Strength and Power:
    • Look for the ability to move defenders in the run game.
    • Assess anchor and strength in pass protection.
  • Technique and IQ:
    • Evaluate hand placement, punch, and overall blocking technique.
    • Assess understanding of blocking schemes and defensive fronts.

Defensive Linemen

  • Quickness and Burst:
    • Look for quick first steps and ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage.
    • Evaluate agility and lateral movement.
  • Strength and Power:
    • Assess ability to hold up against double teams and shed blockers.
    • Look for power moves and ability to disrupt plays.
  • Motor and Effort:
    • Evaluate consistent effort and energy throughout the game.
    • Look for pursuit and ability to chase down plays from behind.


  • Read and React:
    • Look for quick diagnosis of plays and ability to react accordingly.
    • Evaluate instincts and football IQ.
  • Coverage Skills:
    • Assess ability to cover tight ends, running backs, and zone areas.
    • Look for fluidity in movement and ball skills.
  • Tackling and Physicality:
    • Evaluate tackling technique and consistency.
    • Assess physicality and ability to take on and shed blocks.

Defensive Backs

  • Coverage Ability:
    • Look for ability to cover receivers in man-to-man and zone coverage.
    • Assess quickness, agility, and ball skills.
  • Instincts and Awareness:
    • Evaluate ability to read the quarterback and anticipate throws.
    • Look for awareness and ability to make plays on the ball.
  • Physicality and Tackling:
    • Assess ability to support the run and make tackles in space.
    • Look for physicality and willingness to engage in contact.

Additional Considerations

  • Character and Work Ethic:
    • Assess the player’s character, leadership, and work ethic.
    • Interviews, background checks, and talking to coaches can provide insights.
  • Injury History:
    • Consider the player’s injury history and potential durability concerns.
  • Potential and Upside:
    • Look for traits that suggest room for development and improvement.
    • Consider age and experience level.

Scouting involves combining these evaluations to form a comprehensive picture of a player’s potential at the next level. Balance physical attributes with intangible qualities and on-field performance to make informed assessments.


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