The 2021 NFL Draft presents a unique challenge this year. Not only was there no NFL Combine to help evaluate players both on the field and on it, but many players in this year’s class have limited tape due to a shortened college season or opt outs. This is a year in which teams will have to really trust the grunt work done by their tireless scouting staff.
Believe it or not, that may give the Detroit Lions a bit of a leg up on the rest of the league. That’s because, according to Neil Stratton of Inside the League, the Lions’ scouting staff is collectively the longest-tenured staff in the NFL.
“The Lions have a big department of tenured scouts, so it’s no surprised [sic] they led the way with 268 total years of scouting, by our count,” Statton wrote.
Here’s the catch, though. This study was done back in August under the old regime. With new general manager Brad Holmes, the scouting department is likely to change. However, plenty of the scouts currently on staff date back to regimes far before Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia. Regional scout Dave Uyrus has been with the team since 2000. Director of player personnel Lance Newmark—who recently got praise from both Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell—has been in Detroit since 1998.
And as for some of the changes coming, the outlook of who Holmes may be bringing with him already looks positive:
FWIW, @davebirkett, I know the #Lions will be adding one seasoned evaluator who has gotten a lot of picks right over the years. Not sure of role & probably after the draft. But based on who's coming & who's in-house, I would be really optimistic about what Holmes is assembling.— Neil Stratton (@InsideTheLeague) March 30, 2021
Of course, being tenured alone doesn’t mean you’re good at your job. After all, the Lions’ drafting history has been scattered at best. But it’s important to remember it’s the job of these scouts to collect information, not use it. They evaluate the players; executives make the picks.
Experience is valuable in this business, just like any other business. Experience allows one to learn from their mistakes, figure out ways to work efficiently, and make valuable connections with trusted sources.
So in April when all of the scouting department’s work is on display for all 32 teams, the Lions may—just may—have a leg up on the competition.