Football · Sports

The Future of Football Scouting

Before I dive into this topic, I wanted to explain to you why I started The Hart of Sports. I’ve been a devoted sports fan all my life and over the past few years I’ve started focusing on analyzing the decisions made on and off the field by organizations. My ambition is to share the knowledge I have gained to help sharpen the way the sports world is analyzed. Not only do I strive to increase your insight on the sports industry, but also develop sophisticated analytical skills for you look at the sports world differently than before. To me, it’s not about being right it’s about understanding and analyzing all perspectives. I hope you enjoy, welcome to The Hart of Sports!

Football scouting has been commonly affiliated with size, skill, and effort. All of these traits can be seen on game film and in meetings. However, there is one key trait of scouting that is missing, intelligence. Yes, you can look at the player’s GPA through high school and college and judge his intelligence, but that correlation is not consistent. Football intelligence is in its own category that is hard to quantify and discover in a player. As a player goes from high school to college to professional football the competition increases and success isn’t entirely related to talent, football intelligence is becoming a bigger and bigger factor.

Since its combine week in Indianapolis, let me walk you through an NFL scout example. It’s the fourth day of the combine, Jim (No, this is not a real scout, but I thought giving him a name would have a better effect) has three names for the corner position that his organization wants to draft in the first round. He has spent endless hours studying every bit of information about these three players trying to find what sets them apart, both positively and negatively, and hasn’t found anything. Each of the players have similar combine measures, game film, and season stats. They all would fit perfectly in the defensive scheme. Also, they all have good behavior and provide no potential off the field issues. All of them did well in school throughout the years and have solid GPA’s. Jim had interviews with all three prospects, they went over game film, analyzed plays, and drew different schemes and coverages on the white board. After that, Jim assessed each of them as having strong football IQ’s. However, as a college football player I’ve watched an excessive amount of game film and reviewed numerous schemes on a white board and that isn’t a fair assessment of in game football IQ. So, then what should Jim do to narrow down the list to one player? He should give them the siQ test.

The siQ test was created by Ben Alamar, ESPN’s director of sports analytics, and put into play by Vasu Kulkarmi, the founder of Krossover. The siQ test was first made in 2012 for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Alamar’s former employer, although the Cavaliers didn’t fully invest in the test. Nonetheless, Kulkarmi developed the siQ test for the open market at Krossover, a company that digitalizes game film and analytically breaks it down for coaches, athletes, and fans. In 2015, Kulkarmi was fortunate enough to present the siQ test to Mike Tannenbaum, Miami Dolphins executive VP. Tannenbaum was impressed and bought it immediately for the Dolphins to use the siQ test during interviews at the 2015 NFL Combine. Unfortunately, the Dolphins didn’t give out a report on how the results effected their draft selections or how well the test correlated to judging a player’s football intelligence. Although, according to Kulkarmi the Dolphins stepped up their commitment to the siQ test this year for the 2016 NFL Combine.

By now I know you are wondering, what is the siQ test? Well here is the textbook definition: a test that assesses an athlete’s intelligence for their perspective sport by determining how quickly an athlete can analyze a play and predicate what will happen next based off spacing and body language. Okay I just lost a few of you there let me try and put into simpler terms. Athletes watch a short clip of game film lasting a few seconds then select what they think is going to happen next; their response time is recorded and analyzed for speed and accuracy.

How exactly does the siQ test correlate to the game field? Let me walk you through a football play from the linebacker position. I start in the middle of the field 5 yards behind the ball. Before the ball is snapped I recognize that the offense is in a 2×2 formation, the running back is on my side, and the back side guard is a bit high in his stance. The ball is snapped, the running back steps to the right looking for the handoff and I mirror his steps until I hear counter being yelled out by the linebacker next to me because the back side guard pulled. Thus, I put a foot into the ground and run the other way spilling inside of the blocker looking for the player with the ball. Yes, that confuses me too every once in a while. Also, to blow your mind that whole progression only lasted 3 seconds. Welcome to the complex game of football.

I provided that example to highlight the importance of football intelligence to a player’s game. A team can have a player that is the strongest, fastest, and most talented on the field, but if his football intelligence is low he is just taking up space on the field. This make the invention of the siQ test extremely vital to the football scouting. The siQ test concept will play a huge part of football scouting for years to come.

Lastly, I want my blog to stay connected with my readers, therefore I encourage you to comment below and share with me your thoughts and feelings on this topic, whether you agree or disagree. To me, it’s not about being right it’s about understanding and analyzing all perspectives. Also, provide a comment below about any sports topics you would like for me write about in the future.

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