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Building the New Redskins Front Office: Part 1

The Scouts' Black Monday and the Average NFL Player Personnel Department

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL scout's version of Black Monday is one week from today.  In the same way that coaches are often fired on the Monday just after the end of the regular season, so too are scouts and high-ranking personnel officials on the days following the draft, which is the equivalent to the end of their season.

The firing of scouts and top personnel men on Black Monday most commonly occurs on teams with new General Managers.  Incoming GMs typically want to bring "their guys" in, but prior to passing judgment on their new subordinates they like to see them in action.  Most GMs also don't arrive until what is essentially the middle of the scout's season, so it doesn't make sense to shake things up until after free agency and the draft take place.

New Washington GM Scot McCloughan expressed some of these very sentiments in his introductory press conferencewhen he was asked about making changes to the personnel department staff.

"Anywhere from the personnel standpoint, I would go through free agency and through the draft with them, give them the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully, they can prove it."

Being that the Redskins are one of the three teams - the Bears and Jets being the other two - with a new general manger this year, we should expect there to be a number of changes to their front office in the very near future.  In other words, the odds are that the signing of undrafted free agents won't be the only type of transaction that the Redskins are making next week.

All signs point to this taking place, as McCloughan turned over nearly half of the pre-existing staff in his first year with the 49ers and he already tried to bring his former Packers' colleague Alonzo Highsmith into the fold. If you still aren't a believer then maybe you'll reconsider after reading this line from Seth Wickersham's excellent profile on McCloughan from last year.

He'll think about which scouts he would hire if he were to become a GM and jot the names of potential head coaches in a small notebook.

Turnover in the personnel staff will almost certainly happen, but before it does, I want to tell you about how it should and how it will happen.  Today, we'll start by comparing the Redskins' player personnel staff to every other staff in the league.

Surveying the Landscape

I went through the media guides and front office web pages of every NFL team in a truly Ron Jaworski-esque fashion in order to catalog each player personnel man into different categories.  I am now officially a scout scout.

We'll begin by examining the structure of the executive-level staffs around the league.  We will not be looking at general managers because every team has one in some fashion or another.  Here is what I found and how the Redskins stack up.

The Bosses & Middle Management:

Position/Title Total in NFL % of Teams # on Redskins
Assistant General Manager 6 19% 0
VP of Player Personnel 3 9% 0
Executive VP of Football Ops 4 13% 0
Personnel Executive 7 22% 1
Director of Player Personnel 16 50% 1
Director of Pro Personnel 23 72% 1
Director of College Scouting 24 75% 0
Asst. Director of Player Personnel 2 6% 0
Asst. Director of Pro Personnel 16 50% 0
Asst. Director of College Scouting 8 25% 0

The Redskins are among the majority of teams with a director of player personnel (Scott Campbell) and a director of pro personnel (Alex Santos).  However, they find themselves in the minority in several different areas.  Most teams have at least one assistant director and three quarters of the other franchises have a director of college scouting on staff, the Redskins have neither.

Now let's observe from a more macro view.  If you see a negative in the "Difference" column, then the Redskins have less than the league average; a positive number represents the opposite.

Position/Title Average on NFL Team # on Redskins Difference
Assistant Executives 0.88 0 -0.88
Non-GM Top Execs 4.66 3 -1.66
# 2 Level Execs 1.31 2 0.69
All Executives 4.66 4 -0.66

Washington has more than the average amount of number 2 guys (all executives with the exception of pro and college scouting directors), but they are deficient in every other area.  Of course, you could argue that this wouldn't be the case if we had looked at these numbers before the team parted ways with A.J. Smith.

The Pawns:

Now we turn our attention to the faceless and thankless, yet all-important job of the NFL scout.

Position/Title Average on NFL Team # on Redskins Difference
Pro Scouts 1.16 3 1.84
College Scouts 6.16 5 -1.16
Gen Player Personnel 0.97 0 -0.97
BLESTO Scouts 0.22 1 0.78
NFS Scouts 0.09 0 -0.09
Combine Scouts 0.09 0 -0.09
Gen. Scouting Coord. 0.13 0 -0.13
Pro Scouting Coord. 0.19 0 -0.19
College Scout Coord. 0.28 0 -0.28
Personnel Assistants 1.50 1 -0.50
Total Personnel 15.81 14 -1.81

A few things stand out here.  First, the Redskins clearly appear to be concentrating too much on pro scouting and not enough on college scouting.  That sounds pretty accurate, don't you think?  Although, to be fair, their BLESTO scout does help to supplement their college personnel department.

Washington is also a little light on the personnel assistant front and with their total number of positions in the player personnel department as a whole.  So those countless unsubstantiated claims made by the beat writers that the Redskins have one of the smaller front offices have now been, well, substantiated.

Position/Title Average on NFL Team # on Redskins Difference
BLESTO/NFS/Combine 0.41 1 0.59
Coordinators & Assistants 2.09 1 -1.09
All Pro Personnel 2.72 4 1.28
All College Personnel 7.97 6 -1.97

Even when you include all of the directors, coordinators and assistants into the equation, we can see that the team is still too heavy on the pro side and too light on the college side.  Here's some more context for you.

  • Only two other teams have as many pro scouts as the Redskins, while 91% of the rest of the league's franchises have fewer than three pro scouts.
  • Only six other teams have as many people in their pro personnel department as the Redskins, while 78% of NFL teams have fewer than four men in their pro scouting wings.
  • I only counted five other teams that had five or fewer true college or area scouts.  Admittedly, I was unable to classify the scouts for the Browns and Bengals because they do not list what their scouts' roles are (I classified them as general player personnel scouts).  Therefore, saying that 81% of the teams have more college scouts than the Redskins may be an understatement.
  • Even when you include the Redskins' BLESTO scout as part of their total college personnel, they still look bad.  Only three other teams have six or fewer personnel devoted solely to college scouting (including the aforementioned Browns and Bengals).  The other 88% of the teams have more.  That is essentially the inverse of the imbalance that we saw on the pro scouting side.

Here's one more snapshot of how Washington's organizational structure compares.

# of Personnel Redskins Rank
Pro Scouts t-Most
All Pro Personnel t-2nd Most
College Scouts t-4th Fewest
All College Personnel t-3rd Fewest
All Executives t-6th Fewest
All Player Personnel t-5th Fewest

Clearly the Redskins priories have been focused on building the roster through the "pro side" of the house.  Scot McCloughan, on the other hand, firmly believes the draft is the "lifeline of your organization", so count this as yet another reason to expect change.

Player Personnel Rolodex

Finally, as I said I looked at every scout in the league as a part of this exercise, so I thought that it would only make sense to share this information with you.  Below you will see a table sorted first alphabetically by the team's city and then by the person's role on the team in this order: top-level executives, pro personnel staff, college personnel staff, general personnel staff and assistants.

I tried to only include members of these organizations whose focus was on the personnel side of the team, so because of that I chose to exclude a number of assistants, coordinators and football operations staffers.

Also, please keep in mind that there are upwards of 500 people on this list, that all I have to go by is the team websites, media guides and transactions page and that I was the only one putting this information together.  So with that being said, this may not be a completely comprehensive list.

There is no drop-down box available for you to select a specific team or position with, but the search bar tool allows for fairly easy and intuitive navigation if you prefer to avoid a lot of scrolling.  For example, if you only want to see the Redskins' player personnel department, then just type "Redskins" or "Washington" in the search bar.  Want to see all the general managers together?  Type in "general manager" and they will appear.  You can do the same thing with other positions or titles and with names.


I'm not trying to make a habit out of going for two (parters), but in order to get all the content in we'll need to split things up.  Come back tomorrow and check out Part 2 to see who Scot McCloughan will bring in to complete his new front office and how his player personnel department will be structured.