ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The third episode of the Broncos' first-of-its-kind behind-the-scenes docuseries "Behind the Broncos: No Shortcuts" debuted on Tuesday night on the team's official YouTube page, and the final episode before the 2021 NFL Draft has plenty of great scenes.
As George Paton prepares for his first draft as a general manager, this episode gives fans a look inside the war room at all that goes into the Broncos' evaluation process, including insight into the team's character evaluation process and the role analytics plays in drafting players.
Read on to discover our favorite moments from the premiere episode, and click on the video above to check out the full episode.
THE SCOUTING PROCESS
Throughout the last several months, the team's scouting staff has worked to compile pertinent information about various collegiate prospects.
As Assistant Director of College Scouting Darren Mougey explains early in the episode, the final part of the scouting process comes when the staff convenes to share its various opinions.
"When we get to this part of the process, we have a huge body of work — almost an entire book on each player," Mougey said. "We know the players so well, so it's our chance just to kind of present the person and the player and kind of how we feel about him both on the team and his draft value."
During this early part of the episode, we can hear scouts and coaches talking about throwing mechanics, tackling ability, athleticism and measurables.
"One of the more important parts of the evaluation process is each player's measurable, being height, weight, speed, hand, arm, leg — all those things," Mougey said about that last element. "Each position has a threshold, kind of a cutoff line. If his speed's below this, he's probably not going to make it or we're definitely going to have to downgrade him. If his size or length is below this, we're going to have to downgrade him. But with that being said, you don't want to weight it too much. Some of these kids have three years' good body of work on film and they're good football players. How much do we want to ding them because they're a tenth of a second slower than another guy? That may be subjective, but it's always going to take a role and play a part in it and have its weight. How much weight it is, I think it depends by player and position."
While the measurables are important in the scouting process, a player's character may be just as critical. Southeast Area Scout Frantzy Jourdain provides insight into the value of the conversations surrounding a player's character — and how they can factor into the team's evaluation.
"The majority of good football players, the character usually aligns," Jourdain said. "Those are the guys that succeed. You could have a talented player. If he's a bad-character person, he's not going to last long in this league."
The episode features several comments about different players' character, including mentions about maturity, toughness and how they would fit in the building.
"Coaches can teach you how to tackle," Jourdain said. "They can teach you how to run routes. But they can't teach you to love the game. They can't teach you toughness."
Jourdain said he speaks to six or seven people — ranging from the head coach to a school's cleaning staff — about each prospect before forming his own evaluation.
THE ROLE OF ANALYTICS
While the overall scouting process and character evaluation can be somewhat subjective, the Broncos also rely on numbers to help make projections about the prospects.
Scott Flaska, the team's senior manager of football analytics, explains during one segment of the episode how previous draft picks and current prospects can be compared to provide the Broncos with valuable information.
"We're collecting data," Flaska said. "We have been collecting data on basically every draft prospect we can for years and years and years, and then we take that data and feed it into a predictive model. Usually it's like a supervised machine learning model, and what that does is it translates all of these things we know pre-draft, whether it's your measurables — height, weight, speed — from pro days and the Combine or your college stats [and] personal player information. All these different things, we take all that and then we use the model to sort out all of that information, take the most important predictors and then make a prediction on every prospect in the draft."
In one clip, Flaska explains that a player has a 26 percent chance of being an "A" player. He notes for the scouting staff that the model has concern about that prospect's age and wingspan.
"Our goal is to provide a different perspective," Flaska said. "We have data on thousands of draft prospects going back to previous years, and we use that to kind of provide a different view of these guys that are coming out this year."
While analytics have not been embraced by every team, Paton makes it clear that the Broncos value Flaska's contribution to the evaluation process.
"Scott's in all our meetings," Paton said. "He has a grade on every player, as we do. If our grade's different, I want to know why. He's in every meeting. We start at 7:30, we end at 9. We value analytics here big-time, and we value Scott and his crew."
READY FOR THE DRAFT
The episode concludes with a look ahead to the start of Thursday's draft and one final item on the checklist as the Broncos prepare to make a first-round selection.
"You have to have a vision," Paton said. "We ask the coaches, 'What's your vision for this player?' If the player's really talented and doesn't fit the coach's vision, then it's not going to work. It's really important you have communication with[Head Coach] Vic [Fangio], all the coaches, all the scouts and that's what we're going through now."
Fangio, who is featured providing his evaluation of players late in the episode, said he believes that vision should feature a way for the player to make an "immediate impact."
"You do want to draft the best player available, but need does fit in there also a little bit more than it used to," Fangio said. "…The higher you pick, the need factor is less prevalent, but still talked about. Picking at nine, you should be able to get a really good player and one that should be able to play immediately for you in some shape or form."