NFL Teams Are Turning to a Video Analytics Startup to Scout Draft Prospects

Slants helps teams analyze college game tape for lesser known prospects

NFL Draft Scouting
A detailed view of the NFL Scouting Combine logo on March 02, 2019.
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the coronavirus pandemic shut down the scouting process for the upcoming NFL draft, teams around the league had to get creative in order to compile information on potential draft selections. According to a New York Times report, one of the ways that they did so was by contracting a Brooklyn-based video analytics startup to help dissect thousands of prospects’ game tape.

The startup is Slants, which uses artificial intelligence to “identify formations, routes and tracking metrics, like a player’s speed, so that coaches can better evaluate players.” According to one of the company’s co-founders, Omar Ajmeri, Slants can track and analyze data that teams simply don’t have the ability to get in person due to the pandemic:

The teams don’t have any data on many college players, which is why they want to get up close at the combine and at pro days. After pro days were shut down, teams called and asked about our analytics. We collect tracking data not available anywhere else.

What Slants is doing isn’t too far from what NFL teams do for their own players already; each NFL player has a chip in the shoulder pads that allows teams to track them throughout a game in order to better analyze their movements. However, most colleges do not use these chips, and Slants is able to do similar tracking just from the All-22 videos shot by college assistants; they don’t have the funding to utilize TV footage of games as of now.

Given how little face time NFL teams were able to get with a majority of prospects this year before the league shut down travel due to the pandemic, software like Slants’s AI has become more valuable in the home stretch before the draft.

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Read the full story at The New York Times

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