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NFL scout: "If you're a star player, you should not be last in line."

Pete Thamel spent close to a year embedded with the Miami Dolphins' scouting staff to get a stem-to-stern look at how an NFL team boils its draft process down from 1,500 prospects to eight selections. Split into 10 (!!!) portions, Thamel examines the process from all levels of the organization.

Part 4 delves into what scouts look for at a practice, centering on scout Ron Brockington's visit to an Ohio State practice last August. The scouting process is one long grind. Brockington arrived in Columbus at 7:30 the night before, worked until midnight and then rose by 6 the next morning to hit the facility. The Fins' Great Plains scout produced 352 individual reports -- read by no more than a couple dozen people -- and Miami did not draft or sign a single one of those 352 players.

Once on campus, the first, and arguably most important, thing Brockington examines is the player's physique. Is he as big as advertised? How does he fill out his uniform? “I’m a big calf guy," he says. Does the player look and move like, for lack of a better term, a football player?

The next most important thing a scout studies is a player's demeanor. Games are the ultimate competitive environment, but a scout can't see the look in a player's eyes from the press box.

Explains Brockington:

“How physical he is? Is he creating movement? What’s his temperament? Once he finishes his drill, what’s his demeanor? Is he goofing around with friends? Is his head down if he got beat? The other thing for me is in an individual period, how do you line up? If you’re a star player, you should not be last in line. I want a guy who is first in line, good energy.”

The third bullet point a scout looks to accomplish in a practice visit is a study of the player's background. It's a chance to talk to his position coach, the strength coach, the trainers, the janitors, you name it. The best strength coaches tell scouts the truth -- whatever that truth may be.

“My integrity is on the line,” Ohio State strength coach Mikey Marotti said. “I say a lot. I tell them the truth. If you are a good worker, I say you are a good worker. If you are not a good worker, I say you aren’t a good worker. The players know, it’s transparent.”

The entire series is a worthwhile read. Check it out here.