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Ethan Waugh talks NFL scouting, prospect evaluations, interviews

Want to know what the scout’s life is like? Matt Maiocco found the best guy.

Interviewing for NFL teams is hard. Well, at least the San Francisco 49ers were hard this year. After the NFL Combine, you hear how players impressed in interviews or absolutely bomb things—and it can come down to these interviews on why they are selected over someone else.

Matt Maiocco had 49ers director of college scouting Ethan Waugh on his latest podcast to discuss what he called the Super Bowl of college scouts: the NFL Combine. The interview process came up and what things boiled down to and Waugh had this on what the 49ers look for.

“What we really want to see is if this guy will be a fit with our coaching staff, with our current players, with our locker room, with our culture. We really want to see a guy that’s genuine, a guy that loves not only loves playing football, but loves the process of playing football. The week of preparation, the study, all of those preparation habits that go into being a good football player.”

The 49ers were noted for having some tough interviews at the Combine, leaving some rubbed the wrong way. Waugh said that while the players are prepped for this over a month, the goal is to get them away from the script and get to really know them.

Several job interviews are structured as such. Sometimes it’s the whole interview, sometimes it’s one person they will bring in and their job is to make you crack and get all your canned responses away to see how you really will act in a situation. They ask tough questions, they probe, they try to add pressure.

Obviously, some are better at this than others. Reuben Foster was one of those people the 49ers thought they did their homework on, but he got into trouble enough times to merit a release. I bring Foster up again because of the narrative of him being compared to a con-artist. When you think about what Waugh says about how they strip the script away, perhaps someone like Foster just thrived in those sit-down situations.

I’ve time stamped the podcast below. You can listen to it using the widget above or click here if it doesn’t show up.

01:20 - The Combine is the Super Bowl of scouting
02:24 - Teams removing players because of medical reasons
03:10 - Teams sharing information among each other
03:35 - What to look for when meeting players
06:15 - His background and becoming an NFL Scout
08:07 - Big break
09:37 - Where he lives and what schools are on his itinerary
13:09 - Specific story that comes to mind that goes with the job
15:35 - How he’s managed to stick with the 49ers with all the turnover
16:38 - What he does as the director of college scouting
18:04 - Speaking with prospects in the fall/during the college season
19:05 - Coaching the Senior Bowl
21:13 - Where they are constructing a draft board
22:13 - The importance of Combine events