Jack Butler, director of the @BLESTO-V scouting combine, brought to the organization 15 years ago an expert's on-the-job appreciation of what it takes to perform in the National Football League.
He was a defensive back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, good enough to be a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He later was an assistant coach under Buddy Parker and scouted. He talked several times this year with the New York Giants about becoming their general manager.
"I did not have the patience or understanding to be a coach," the 48-year-old Butler says. "It didn't turn me on. I enjoy what I'm doing."
Butler toils behind the scenes and few people know him. But Thursday and Friday -- when the NFL holds its annual draft of college football players -- he and the other people who run and work for the three scouting combines are the real stars.
On the information the combines (Text Omitted)
The combines which sound like espionage agencies, are BLESTO-V, (Text Omitted) teams in the league subscribe to one of the three combines.
BLESTO-V derives from a group originally standing for the Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization. The V was added when the Vikings joined, but no additional letters were included for the addition of the Dolphins, Colts, Bills and Chiefs.
United is an outgrowth of a combine once known.s CEPO (Central, Eastern Personnel Organization). United is the largest combine, listing as members Redskins, Cards, Giants, Falcons, Bengals, Browns, Jets, Broncos, Packers, Oilers, Patriots, Rams, Saints, Chargers and Buccaneers.
Ex-Quadra serves the Cowboys, 49ers and Seahawks.
The Raiders always have bucked the system and gone their own way because, according to a team spokesman, "We want to control our own destiny."
In the aggregate, the 28 clubs spend about $5.6 million on scouting, close to $200,000 each, counting individual staff outlays and assessments paid to their combines.
BLESTO-V spends about $750,000 a year and that cost is prorated (Text Omitted)
V's telephone bill is about $15,000 annually.
Though the Washington Redskins have been bankrupt of high draft choices for several years, they spend about $40.000 to belong to United Scouting and almost $200.000 on their own scouting staff, not including salaries.
BLESTO-V will have fed 1,000 to 1, 500 names to its computer, boiled them down to 500, and will have looked over the top-rated 250 collegians at least seven times by Thursday.
There are 15 full-time scouts who collect first-hand information on every college player in the country who is a potential pro prospect. Member clubs are supplied a "hard copy" of the data every week. The club representatives meet with the BLESTO-V scouts at the end of spring practices and at the end of fall practices.
Since there is intercombine rivalry, are printouts confidential?
"I hope so," Butler said. "We do a synopsis for every position. If it is the fullbacks, we learn everything about them, maybe that a player is 6-foot-2 3/8 and 217 pounds and runs 40 yards in 4.5 or 4.7.
"They are clocked three times on the average, maybe as a sophomore, junior and senior, to see if the player gained speed or maybe got slower to We recheck heights and weights, to see if the players have a tendency to grow with maturity."
There is a general category to try to evaluate intangibles.
"We look for football character." Butler says, "intelligence, coachability, aggressiveness, second effort, mental toughness, instinctive ability and relative speeds. A player's non-football speed may be 4.7 for 40 yards: his playing speed 4.9 for the distance."
The defensive back, for instance, is rated on quick feet, turning ability, quickness coming off a turn, range, hands (as a potential interceptor), back-pedaling, closing in on the ball, tackling production and general athletic ability.
A linebacker is judged for ability, body control, lateral quickness, field vision, reaction, hands, pass coverage drops and strength at the stress point.
In quarterbacks the scouts look for strength of passing arm, quickness in releasing the ball. Other factors scouts look for in quarterbacks are being able to read defenses, accuracy, field of vision, picking out secondary receivers and durability.
The one common theme among scouts is that "there are no sleepers anymore."
Mike Allman, director of player personnel for the Redskins, says, "These days the scouting is so sophisticated that there is no 'sleeper' missed; no potential superstar hidden away. It just doesn't happen anymore.
Everybody's been reported on.
"Being in the United Scouting group with 14 other teams we get the maximum coverage for the minimum cost (about $40,000 each). The other clubs pay as much as $100,000 each in the smaller groups We get in for under $200.000 with our (Redskins') own scounting staff, mostive travel expenses, but not including salaries."
Butler says there no longer are sleepers from small schools, as there used to be 15 years ago, because every school and every player is scouted.
"There may be a case of bad judgment, but not because we didn't know of the player "he noted.
"It could happen at a major school now maybe at a school like Southern California because a kid behind, say, an O. J. Simpson doesn't get to play much."
"Billy (White Shoes) Johnson went to Widener College and Lasted until the 15th round, before the Houston Oilers took him. We know he was quick and could run like bell, but at 5-9 and 170 it was hard to say he was going to be great."