Bill Tobin, working in his fifth decade as an NFL scout, has gone from watching film on bathroom walls to video cutups on iPads, from storing information in loose-leaf binders to iClouds, and from drafting players on weekdays in January to prime-time on the verge of a sweeps month.
"The technology is incredible. We should make (fewer) mistakes, but I'm not sure that we do," says Tobin, the Bengals' Midwest scout, in his conversation on the Hobson's Choice Podcast in the run-up to the April 27-29 draft. "Its humans evaluating humans … there are a lot of variables there."
Tobin, 76, who has called Paul Brown Stadium home since 2003, is best known as the architect of the 1985 Chicago Bears, universally regarded as one of the great teams off all-time. He talks about working for Papa Bear Halas himself, as well as working with head coach Mike Ditka that included their disagreement over drafting some quarterback named Jim Harbaugh, and takes Bengaldom on a tour of old-time scouting. Like the time he watched film of future Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice on a bathroom wall while scouting at Mississippi Valley State.
Tobin talks about having a hand in scouting Hall-of-Famers from Walter Payton to a man that caught passes from Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison. And how he might add some Bengals to that list after scouting the SEC early in his tenure. Tobin also compares the draft rooms that he ran in the 1980s to the ones run by his son in the 21st century, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin.
And his response to the celebrated showdown with Mel Kiper Jr., in one of the draft's more memorable moments when he was running the Colts of the early '90s?