Social Media Screening of College Football Prospects Part of Scouting Process for NFL Draft


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Worldwide leader in sports ESPN has communicated with four National Football League (NFL) teams “to examine how they study social media” and found all four confirmed that social media screening is part of their scouting process leading up to the 82nd NFL Draft taking place from Thursday, April 27, 2017, to Saturday, April 29, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to the article ‘Social scouting: How NFL teams track prospects online’ posted on the website.

The article written by ESPN Staff Writer James Walker begins: The influence of social media during the NFL draft reached an all-time high this time last year. Laremy Tunsil landed in the center of controversy after his Twitter account was hacked moments before the draft and someone posted a video of Tunsil smoking a substance from a bong while wearing a gas mask. It dominated the first night of draft conversation and contributed to Tunsil’s fall from a projected top-five pick to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13 overall.

The ESPN article provides an inside look at how NFL teams monitor the social media accounts of college football prospects to evaluate players and how made social media screening has become part of the evaluation process leading up to the NFL Draft. Each of the social media screening methods used by the four teams that ESPN’s Walker communicated with reveal that “there is no uniform method of handling this challenge in scouting.” The social media screening methods of the four anonymous NFL teams are described by Walker in the following way:

  • The first team, which won multiple Super Bowls, uses software-driven technology that can pull up anything a prospect ever posted on social media, regardless of whether messages and/or images were deleted. This was the most comprehensive and in-depth method of the four teams.
  • The second team, which resides in the AFC, assigns area scouts to begin studying draft-worthy prospects’ social media during their junior year of college. Once that player leaves at the end of their junior or senior season, that team feels it has a good handle on prospects’ social media accounts.
  • The third team, which made the playoffs last season, assigns roles to lower-level members of the front office to research players’ social media accounts. If something alarming is found, those staffers alert high-ranking officials in the front office during the pre-draft process and before a decision is made.
  • The fourth team, which missed the playoffs last season, told ESPN, social media is now packaged as part of its background check for prospects.

With Adweek estimating 2.3 billion registered users on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter combined in 2016, social media is all but impossible to ignore. The ESPN article states that “multiple agents told ESPN that they believe all 32 teams examine social media of its players in some capacity” and that “multiple league insiders told ESPN the process of tracking social media will only improve.” The complete article is available on the ESPN website at

As reported by ESR News in February 2016, all players planning to enter the 2016 NFL Draft had to undergo a criminal record background check that could bar them from attending the draft if convictions for domestic violence, sexual assault, or weapons charges were revealed. According to an report, an internal league memo sent to all 32 NFL teams stated that a player would not be permitted to attend “any league-related event” if a background check revealed a felony or misdemeanor conviction, or if a player refuses to submit to a background check.

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