TORONTO – Preparation. It is a simple yet complex eleven-letter word that resonates in the minds of CFL prospects, coaches, general managers, and scouts alike. At the CFL Combine, a prospect’s performance is dictated by the amount of time and preparation that is put forward prior to the Canadian Football League’s showcase scouting event. For the defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts, preparation is an extremely important aspect of their comprehensive scouting method.
“Preparation is critical”, stated Argonauts Player Personnel Assistant, Chris Rossetti. It’s just like playing (football), you have to prepare if you want to win. We take the exact same approach that our players and coaches take into game day and game week.”
Rossetti, 22, provides the Boatmen with a unique perspective on this year’s draft class. The former Guelph Gryphon quarterback is actually eligible for the 2013 CFL Draft but rather than pursuing a playing career in the CFL, Rossetti is incorporating his extensive CIS knowledge into the Argonauts scouting process.
“When you play with the guys you get first hand knowledge of what they are as a player and what they are as a person”, commented Rossetti while evaluating prospects at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium on Sunday. “You find out quickly if they’re tough. You find that out real quick when they hit you or take away half the field as a defensive back. I was a quarterback so I knew who was on the defensive side of the ball and if there was a good player, I’d game plan around them. Now I can use that and bring that over to the scouting side – I can really see who I like and see how they fit into our schemes based on the critiques of each player and having played against them, it’s definitely a good thing to have.”
While the CFL Draft is still over two months away, Rossetti and fellow members of the Argonauts scouting staff already possess a good sense of which prospects they hope to select on May 6.
“The next step is sitting down with all the coaches and figuring out what guys fit our team’s needs best. It’s about finding the guys who we think will represent the Argonauts best”, said Rossetti. “We’ll put on more tape and learn about more guys that intrigued us this weekend. For the most part, we have a good sense of who we like and who could be potential Argos come May.”
Despite the importance surrounding the CFL Combine, Rossetti affirms that the Argonauts will not significantly alter a player’s draft value based on their performance at the combine.
“The one thing I go by is the tape. The tape never lies and I put a lot of value in that”, said Rossetti. “Coming out to this is good because you get to see them live and running around against some of the best talent in the country so we’re going to incorporate that into our take on a player. However, if they come out here and didn’t do well, it’ll hurt a little bit but in our minds not so much.”
In addition, Rossetti explains how statistical results are usually misleading and therefore, the Argonauts attempt to learn more about the individual rather than solely focusing on a player’s on-field performance.
“When you’re scouting, you cannot just go based on the results and stats”, says Rossetti. “There is a lot of it that is misleading because some guys aren’t on display as much due to their schemes.”
Argonauts General Manager, Jim Barker, has seen his fair share of CFL Evaluation Camps over the course of his executive football career and conveys the same approach as his 22-year-old Player Personnel Assistant.
“We look for different traits and every team looks for different things”, stated Barker. “We look for athleticism in the testing and then we look for competitiveness. We want guys who can tell us that this means everything in the world to them.”
After working as a scouting intern during the 2012 season, Chris Rossetti’s keen eye for talent earned him a full-time position as the Argonauts Player Personnel Assistant. Rossetti admits that at times scouting can be a difficult task but says he thoroughly enjoys the challenge that comes with evaluating some of the best young football players throughout the country.
“I wake up in the morning thinking about prospects. I go to work and I’m watching the prospects. Then you go home and you’re still thinking about them”, described Rossetti. “It’s always on your mind and it’s good to come out to something like this, to see them live because we’ve been watching them on film. Ted Goveia, Jim Barker and myself work hard and we’re always watching the (prospects) on film. Our coaches have input as well and we’re just trying to find the right fits for our team. It’s a year-round process and it never stops.”
In preparation for the CFL Combine, Rossetti along with fellow Argonauts scouting officials reviewed countless hours of film, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of every player at the combine. As a collective group, the Argonauts are continually in search of players who are motivated, determined, competitive, and have a desire to win.
“We want people who want to win”, stated Rossetti, who started with the Argonauts as a media assistant in 2010. “We want good athletes but we want people who want to win and are good competitors. We want people who will represent our team with class and respect. To be an Argonaut, you have to be a guy that plays with pride, a guy who doesn’t let his teammates down, a good character kid, and when they put that jersey on – that Double Blue “A” – they’re going all out for the team and their coaches.”
When evaluating a CFL prospect, the Argonauts place large emphasis on the intangibles, ensuring that the individual has the passion, motivation, and determination to play professional football at the next level. Most importantly, the Boatmen search for individuals that share the same competitive drive and winning attitude that fits the scheme of the Double Blue scouting process.
For Rossetti, his scouting journey can only be complete when he witnesses one of his draftees achieving ultimate success and raising the Grey Cup trophy as a winning member of the Argonauts.