Monday, September 7, 2009

Chris Landry on scouting receivers

Chris Landry - who was once a scout for the Hou-nessee Oil-tans and Cleveland Browns, and I believe runs a scouting service (though I can't find the site and it appears it's now gone) - calls in to the radio to talk NFL and college football for an hour each week in the Richmond area. He calls into SportsRadio 910 (AM 910), on Thursdays during the off-season and Fridays during the season. Fans call in asking various questions and he gives his thoughts. It's a very interesting and informative program, the best thing on our local sports station.

So when he came on this past week, I decided to call in and pick his brain about wide receiver scouting. Mostly I've been interested in why first round WRs seem to bust so frequently, and in general it's so random which ones work. So I called and asked him if he could talk about when scouts watch the college players, and what do scouts look for in wide receivers, especially with the bust frequency. What follows isn't exact quotes, but they are his ideas, and as such I'm putting them in the block-quote below, even though they aren't exact.

College scouts watch college ball during the season, and teams tend to have scouts for different areas/regions of the country. A lot of them are so involved in what they're doing in the college season, they don't even have time to watch the games of the teams they're working for and get disconnected from their teams until after the season.

There are three things [Landry] look for in WRs trying to find ones that will be good in the NFL.

First is soft hands. [Landry] listens for the soft 'thud' on catches, as opposed to a loud thump. The soft sound indicates a receiver is catching the ball smoothly in their hands, while the loud sound indicates a hard catch, particularly into the body. This is important in the NFL on slants and things like that, and can be the difference between turning an 8 yard gain if he's catching it in his body and not able to run, into a 26 yard gain catching with his hands without breaking stride.

Second is quickness, the ability to get off the line and in and out of cuts quickly. Also the ability to separate quickly. This is more important than straight-line speed, because everyone in the NFL is fast and coverages can be designed to stop pure speed.

Third is size, which is preferable but not critical. It's like the difference between stopping a small car and a Mack truck on the highway. The bigger guys have the ability to get more yardage on the move. It also helps them get off the line easier, playing against press coverage. While size isn't a requirement, it does mean that if the receiver isn't really big, it makes having that quickness (from #2 above) absolutely critical. Cause if they lack both size and quickness, it's going to be virtually impossible to get off the line cleanly on their intended route.

Interesting learnings. I'm going to try to call in a little more regularly and ask more scouting questions, mostly cause I'm curious about a lot of things like this. Assuming I do, and that it's stuff like this that I think would be good to continue posting, I'll probably ask the local radio station if it's okay to do.


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