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How the Bengals do more with less in their scouting department

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The Bengals scouting department does more than just keep an eye on college football.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals have long been famous (or infamous, if you will) for having a very small scouting department. The team actually diversified their department when they added Christian Sarkisian this offseason to increase the total to eight scouts.

It’s usually not newsworthy when a team adds a scout to their staff, but the Bengals love to get by with less. They have talked in the past about some of the advantages of having a smaller scouting department. There are less people arguing over players, and there aren’t any major power struggles. Everyone knows where the power resides in the room: director of player personnel Duke Tobin, head coach Marvin Lewis and team owner Mike Brown will have the final say on roster construction.

The other advantage is their ability to dip into other areas that teams would usually split up. One such instance is keeping an eye on NFL players who are available to be added via free agency and the waiver wire.

“We use our guys in multiple areas,” Tobin told Geoff Hobson of, “so you maintain the perspective of what’s playing in the NFL and what’s available in college. From a technology standpoint, we’ve built an in-house system that serves to directly fit the needs of our organization.”

It is a simple enough concept. By making sure scouts know what is already available to the team at a moment’s notice, it will help them in scouting by knowing where the bar is at for rookies coming in.

It also creates a picture, for those outside of the organization, that illustrates how the team decides which free agents to bring in during the season when injuries occur. Tobin and his staff use what they refer to as a “ready list.” The list is made via a custom program that allows scouts to update it on the road in case Cincinnati suddenly needs to add a player to the practice squad or active roster.

It includes what seems to be described as a player profile for each available player. It includes college stats, combine stats and a blurb about the player. The list and newest version of technology being added by Tobin and his department is to ensure the efficiency of making moves during the season.

“The idea is you’re not scrambling for a day or two if something happens on a Sunday,” Bengals pro scouting director Steven Radicevic said. “You may have to watch an hour or two of film, but everyone knows quickly the guys we’re looking at.”

Tobin put the original technology in place when he took over as director of player personnel in 2011. The ultimate goal was very easy, to save time for scouts to do what they do best.

“Efficiency,” Tobin said. “The technology does the organizing, and that allows us more time for evaluation.”

It is hard to really ignore the results as the Bengals routinely have built their team mostly through the draft, and they have remained as a team competing for the playoffs during a vast majority of the Andy Dalton and A.J. Green era.

The Bengals just seem to do more with less.