The San Francisco 49ers coaches and scouts are back from Mobile, Alabama following the 2019 Senior Bowl, and now it’s time to get ready for the February NFL Combine. The coaching staff remained in Mobile through the game, but the scouts departed after practices wrapped up on Thursday. They took care of their player evaluations and interviews during the preceding days, and were going to get film from the game to further break players down.
49ers.com senior reporter Joe Fann was in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, and he had a great guest on his podcast. Fann sat down with 49ers area scout Tariq Ahmad and they discussed a broad range of topics in what is one of my favorite podcasts in recent memory.
Ahmad is an area scout for the 49ers, covering the northeast region. According to Aziz, that goes from Maine to North Carolina, and west as far as West Virginia. He told Fann he is not sure how many schools that covers because he is checking out all the way down to Division III for prospects.
The entire podcast is worth a listen, and I’ve broken down the timestamps below. The best part is early on when Ahmad gives a rundown of the player interview process at the Senior Bowl. We hear frequently about teams meeting with players at the all star games, but we don’t get the details like we do with the Combine. He provides helpful insight on that.
Fann asked him about a couple prospects the 49ers drafted last year that fell under his region: N.C. State defensive lineman Kentavius Street and Temple defensive lineman Jullian Taylor. Ahmad mentioned that he specialized in the defensive line, so these two were particularly in his wheelhouse. However, injuries impacted the evaluations. Street tore his ACL in a private workout for the New York Giants leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, while Taylor had limited playing experience due to various injuries during his college career.
“Kentavius — kinda what I was saying before, the background of my job is so important. Anybody could watch Kentavius play or watch him work out and say, this guy’s a special talent — explosive, powerful, fast. He’s as thick and dense as anyone that you’ve ever seen.
”But, the background — going to school, talking with the trainers, talking with his strength coach — they all loved him, every player loved him. So it was an easy decision because that guy’s going to do everything he can to get right, to get back to where he was before. There’ll be no days off. I was talking to another player just yesterday that I interviewed, who said, ‘Yep, Kentavius is training with me right now. He’s at so-and-so workout facility training, doesn’t take a day off.’
”So that makes that very comfortable because our job, as gathering information plus evaluating, we were able to get a great player.”
“Totally different story with Jullian. Actually, from my days at Rutgers, I knew Jullian. So we had an extensive rapport between the two of us. Right away, when he was a junior and I was doing that summer work that I was talking about, he only played a few games because he had a knee injury that year, his junior year. But I made sure I watched those games, the game against Penn State is the one that stands out in my mind. And he was a really good football player, with minimal playing experience.
“So the following year, I had a microscope on him because I saw stuff that I really, really liked early on. And I thought he performed at a high level. I thought he had traits. I don’t know if the instincts were always there because of the limited background, but I really, really liked what was inside of his body, and from knowing him, from his days down in South Jersey, I thought that he was going to be a really talented player and a really quality person who adds value to the locker room.”
0:20 — His job at the Senior Bowl
1:32 — The player interview process at the Senior Bowl
6:08 — His path to becoming a scout
7:15 — What he thinks makes him a good scout
7:55 — What a calendar year is like for an area scout
11:35 — Best travel story
13:50 — How to keep internal peace (eat right, hit gym, be mentally well) during the extensive road trips
14:52 — Process with Kentavius Street
16:42 — Process with Jullian Taylor
18:00 — On difficulty of finding a diamond in the rough in an age of limitless information
19:19 — Defining his region (northeast)
19:51 — On rules and protocol for contacting players and working with schools
20:47 — On relationships with other scouts in the region
22:00 — Favorite part of being an area scout
22:53 — On getting on the table for prospects
24:04 — Hardest part of being an area scout and how front office encourages family time
25:50 — On dealing with scouting being an imperfect science and having to have an opinion based on it
27:22 — On following guys even if they don’t end up being drafted by the 49ers and how he improves his process
29:07 — A player who taught him the most in his scouting process