Just a few days into training camp there are 15 to 20 extra sets of eyes scattered along the sidelines at Bills practice. Those eyes belong to Buffalo's college scouting staff and they'll spend about 10 days with the team at St. John Fisher. Their job during that time is a bit different from their normal duties.
The Bills college scouting department is naturally getting ready to hit the road for five months, but when they're at training camp they're busy reviewing Buffalo's current roster.
"What we do is give each scout a position group to rank and break down and that will help us when we get into that final cut down mode and first cut down mode," said Bills GM Doug Whaley. "We take that information and review it. When the scouts were here this is how they ranked them and this is what they thought about them."
Buffalo's college scouts just arrived on campus last Thursday and they're well into their reports on players on the Bills roster.
"They've been reviewing the practice tape already," said Bills Director of Pro Personnel Tom Gibbons. "They can watch practice video remotely through our video system. So they've seen pretty much everything before they've arrived."
"The whole value of this for the scouts is to know the caliber of player we have here presently so when we go out in the fall we try to see how we can make that position better," said National Scout Chuck Cook. "We get a real good feel about what we have and then we'll go out in the fall and at two-a-days in the fall start breaking down the guys in the college ranks to try to make us better."
The rankings and evaluations from the scouting department on Buffalo's current players will be used as a form of cross reference with the evaluations of the coaching staff.
"We'll merge it together and the pro scouts that are in house they'll add to training camp evaluations with preseason evaluations and come up with an overall ranking and grade and then we'll meet with the coaches and merge it and then go from there," said Whaley.
The college scouts will also meet with the coaching staff and pro personnel staff during the time they're at camp.
"We'll have personnel meetings with the coaches and the scouts are involved," said Gibbons. "The process of evaluations continues throughout training camp."
Of course the main role of the college scouts is to find new talent for the team, and they're tying up loose ends in preparation for their fall travel from campus to campus as well.
"They're also here to prepare for the season and their college stuff," said Gibbons. "This is a tune-up and a chance for them to get a peek at our team as well as finalizing their schedules for the road this fall and updating any players or new information that has come in over the spring on a lot of the upcoming seniors. So they prepare themselves for the road."
And though their fall schedule is most important, Bills head coach Doug Marrone has made a point of telling the college scouting department that their work matters when it comes to the current roster.
"Coach already said it," said Cook. "He said, 'We value your eyes. You're coming from a different perspective in looking at these guys and we factor that in.' Coach believes in scouts and believes we have a good opinion and know what we're talking about. It's another set of eyes and he does take our work into account."