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Scout's Tales: Daren Bates

Posted Apr 3, 2015

Area Scout Danton Barto on projecting a standout special teams player in Daren Bates.

There are numerous ways NFL teams acquire players, and the Rams’ scouting staff is always hard at work trying to find the next guy who can help them win. In Scout’s Tales, we’ll visit with members of Les Snead’s personnel department and they’ll share stories of how the process brought certain current Rams to St. Louis.

Area Scout Danton Barto on projecting a standout special teams player in Daren Bates.

In my area, I’m responsible for scouting schools in Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and North Carolina. I did some of Alabama last year as well. 

When we go into a school, we have a list of guys that we predetermine are draftable players. We’re basically looking at starters on both sides of the ball. We try to find out everything we can about the seniors. We try to find out simple stuff from family background to where they grew up. We want to know if they had a rough upbringing. We try to start basically putting a picture together of what type of person we’re dealing with. Did he come from a hard social background?

Then you want to know about his football intangibles. Is he a hard worker? Is he self-motivated?  Is he a vocal leader...things of that nature. We try to get a body type on them so that everyone in St. Louis kind of has a picture of what he looks like. If you’ve never seen him, what is his body type?

From there on, it goes on to watching film and grading them. Each time we go in we try to put a level on them and where we think he’s going to be. We’re always trying to find out more and more about them character wise.
With Daren Bates, it was funny. When I was hired by Les Snead, I was did special projects just on the linebackers. When I saw Daren, I saw a shorter guy, some of the things that don’t measure up. At certain positions, length matters. I know it as well as anybody. I played linebacker and I wasn’t given an opportunity to play in the NFL because of my lack of length. I didn’t run like Bates, but that’s beside the point.

People are worried about parameters. There has to be a cutoff at some point or we’d be looking at guys who have no shot of playing on Sundays. There are always going to be guys that don’t fit the mold perfectly; guys like London Fletcher and Zach Thomas are linebackers who were very successful despite lacking ideal size.
Daren didn’t have that prototypical size. But the thing that kept jumping out to me was that he was a good football player. He could run and he was tough. This guy started in the SEC. If he doesn’t get drafted, why wouldn’t we bring him in? I don’t care if he’s not 6-foot-3.

For a guy like Daren to make his mark, he’s got to be able to perform on special teams, and he’s been one of our better special teams players since he got here. When you project a special teams player, it can be tricky because some guys never play on special teams or haven’t played on special teams since their freshman year. A lot of it depends on where they go. Some programs have enough depth that they don’t have to play them. Their top players are too valuable and they want to get him off the kicking game. Some schools just have different philosophies and they play them all the time.

Daren played special teams early in his career at Auburn, but he didn’t late. He was a safety when he came to Auburn and we knew he could run. I thought given time, we could get him bigger. Even though he went to Auburn, and as good as their program is, they’re not doing what we do in the NFL to monitor weight and help guys add quality weight. I didn’t think that would be a problem.

There’s no crystal ball that tells you a guy is going to be a great special teams player. The only thing we knew was that he could run, he was tough, and he was willing. If you do those things, you’ve got a chance. That’s what made us excited about him. I think when Bates got to St. Louis, he shocked everybody at how nasty he was on the field. He has a lot of pride about him, and those are the things we learned about him.

Daren’s success here is a credit to Les, Coach Fisher and all of our coaches. They brought him in and gave him an opportunity. In his case, it wasn’t that ‘we were right.’ It’s that Bates was right. He’s a tough, talented football player who has worked hard and earned what he’s received.