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The NFL Scouting Calendar

Scouts Note:

This calendar is in its simplest terms. This is not specific to any team but rather a general synopsis of a normal year for NFL scouts. As the year progresses, more depth will be provided on specific aspects of the scouting calendar and the important role scouts play. Make sure to check the Scouts Blog weekly for new articles. The time to start developing your scouting prowess is right now. Sign up with Elite Scout School HERE

*Exact future dates unknown. This calendar is under normal circumstances. Dates are subject to change due to Covid-19. 


  • Return from summer break
  • Scouting Staff Meetings
         –   Primary Team Focus: Team Assessment
         –   Primary Staff Focus: Team Building, Alignment, Expectations, and Goals


  • Training Camp Starts
         –   Attend practice and evaluate the entire roster
         –   Evaluate drafted rookies
         –   Evaluate camp battles and identify standouts


  • Preseason Starts (*HOF game, Aug 6th in 2020)
         –   Continue Evaluation of the roster
         –   Pro Scouts: “practice” run for advance reports (in-depth evaluation of future opponents)
         –   Scout the league: Scouts are given teams to evaluate, write up, and identify cut candidates as well as waiver claim targets.
  • Preseason game ends (*Sept 3rd in 2020)
  • Important Date: Clubs must reduce roster from 90 to 53 players (*Sept 5th in 2020)
  • Area Scouts hit the road
         –   Almost all schools visited at least once
         –   Smaller schools are dependent on if there are any prospects


  • Regular Season Starts (Sept 10th in 2020)

Regular Season Duties

  • Road (Area) Scouts
         –   Visit area schools
         –   Grade all seniors at each assigned school
         –   Identify players above and below the line
         –   Gather background and character on all eligible players
  • Pro Scouts
         –   Write up teams assigned to them
         –   Create advance reports for future opponents
         –   Write up potential trade targets
  • Other In-House Scouting Duties
         –   Facilitate and operate player tryouts
         –   Continue evaluation of the current roster


  • Important Date: NFL Trade Deadline (Nov 3rd in 2020)


  • Area (road) Scouts wrap up school visits


  • December Scouting Meetings
         –   Area Scouts submit initial grades for all upperclassmen
         –   Determine pool of prospects and reject those players not worthy of consideration


  • College Bowl Season Begins
         –   Road Scouts: Final opportunity for in-person evaluations


  • Regular Season Ends (Jan 3rd in 2021)
  • Black Monday (Jan 4th in 2021)
         –   Potential changes in leadership (GM and Coach)
         –   Changes in leadership could mean changes in: job security, philosophy, scheme, process, grade scale, scouting calendar, etc.
  • Free Agency Meetings
         –   Watch, grade, and stack free agents
         –   Identify targets and project year and term for each player
  • Post Season Begins (Jan 9th in 2021)


  • Underclassmen must declare their intentions to enter the NFL draft (Jan 18th in 2020)


  • All-star games
         –   Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL (Jan 25th-30th in 2021)
         –   East-West Shrine in St. Petersburg, FL (Canceled, scheduled for Jan 23rd, 2021)
         –   Hula Bowl in Honolulu, HI (Jan 30th in 2021)
         –   NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, CA (Jan 23rd in 2021)
         –   Tropical Bowl in Kissimmee, FL (Jan 17th in 2021)
         –   College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, TX (Jan 8th-15th in 2021)


  • Draft Meetings
         –   Underclassmen reports are due
         –   Present, watch, grade, and stack prospects as a group
  • Superbowl (Feb 7th in 2021)


  • NFL Scouting Combine (Feb 23rd-Mar 2nd in 2020)
         –   Player interviews
         –   Record player measurables and on-field testing
         –   On-Field Evaluations
         –   Positional Stacks based on combine performance
         –   Identify standouts to re-watch


  • Important Date: March 1st is the deadline for eligible college football players to forgo the NFL draft and return to college.
  • College Pro Days Start (run from early-March to early-April)
         –   Official player measurables and field testing for non-combine invites
         –   Final on-field look for prospects
         –   Final opportunity for an in-person conversation with staff
  • Important Date: New league year starts (*Mar 17th in 2020)
         –   Before 4 pm: teams must exercise club options, submit qualifying offers for RFAs, and be under the salary cap.
         –   After 4 pm: contracts expire, trading can begin, and free agency officially starts.


  • Local Pro day
         –   Eligible if you grew up near the team or attended a local college
  • Voluntary offseason workouts begin (9-week program runs from early-April through early-June)
         –   Phase 1: First two weeks is limited to strength and conditioning.
         –   Phase 2: Three weeks with on-field workouts and individual player instruction.
         –   Phase 3: Four weeks of OTA’s. Organized team activities with 10 practices.
         –   Scouts duties: Primarily focused on the draft. Some on-field evaluation (during OTA’s)


  • Final Pre-Draft meetings
         –   Board is finalized (if it hasn’t been already)
  • Draft Day! (April 29th in 2021)
  • Round 7 concludes
         –   Scouting Responsibilities: College Free Agents are recruited and signed.
         –   Priority (or non-priority) College Free Agents: Signing Bonus + P5 guarantees are the tools used for recruiting.
         –   Rookie Minicamp invites: No contract, no signing bonus.


  • Rookie Minicamp
         –   Evaluate drafted rookies, undrafted rookie signees, and RMC invites.
         –   Identify camp standouts and get RMC invites that flash under contract.


Hiring Cycle

  • The day following the draft, scouting staff changes begin.
  • Firings, non-renewals, promotions, and accepting higher roles with new teams occur.

This is the most important part of the scouting calendar for prospective scouts. By now, you should have sent your resume and attempted to connect with those in hiring positions. You should have prepared for a potential interview and created a scouting booklet of your reports. Haven’t started? It’s not too late, sign up for Elite Scout School HERE. Contracts begin to expire in early-May. The staff becomes the priority post-draft. New GM’s begin the process of shaping their staff how they see fit. That may mean bringing in their “guys” or keeping most of the current staff. Scouts are plucked for higher roles with new teams and promotions occur.

The hiring process goes top-down. Hiring vacant leadership positions first and then working down to hiring the entry-level roles. This process can take anywhere from a week to a month. May is THE sweet spot for landing a job.


  • New hires acclimate to the new role
        –   Meet co-workers
        –   Learn and understand expectations
        –   Learn the roster. Writing up every player on the team.
        –   Learn schematics and familiarizing oneself with the coaching staff.


  • Mandatory Minicamp
         –   First look at the full roster.
         –   Evaluation of all players but primary focus on the backend players to identify potential camp surprises.
         –   Familiarize oneself with new additions.
  • Summer Break
         –   Scouts receive 4-6 weeks off. This concludes the scouting calendar for the year.

Final Note:

It is never too early or too late to begin the process of scouting development. The important thing is committing. This has multiple benefits, first, you improve your evaluations and make yourself more of an asset for NFL teams and, second, you show that you have actually taken steps beyond just stating your goals to pursue a career in scouting. Sign up HERE.

Thank you for reading. 

-Dax Nollenberger

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