The New Orleans Saints scouting departments hit a triple Wednesday night.
New Orleans was one of just three NFL teams, as voted by the scouting profession, to have individuals named among the best in their three respective areas by InsideTheLeague.com.
Mike Baugh was listed with the best road scouts (one of seven per conference), Justin Matthews with the best pro scouts (three per conference) and Assistant General Manager/College Scouting Director Jeff Ireland with the best executive scouts (three per conference). The awards were presented at a ceremony in Indianapolis, where Saints executives, scouts and coaches this week are evaluating players during the NFL Scouting Combine.
Ireland last year was presented a BART Award, honoring him as one of the top 10 scouts in the league. He was pleased that Baugh and Matthews were recognized for their diligent and valued work.
"What makes this job rewarding is being around good teammates," said Baugh, one of the Saints two national scouts. "We are truly a staff. We have smart and creative thinkers here in New Orleans, just a lot of experienced pros. We have people who collaborate well and watching our team win with the players we add as a staff makes all the travel and nights away from our families not seem so overwhelming.
"I'm a little uncomfortable with (the award), because everything we do is collaborative. I've been around the Saints since 2000, and I've been a part of some really good reports and really good signings on the pro side and the college side, and I've been around some clunkers. It's never one guy who did something."
Baugh's tenure with the Saints predates Ireland, and Ireland said he values Baugh's input.
"I'm super proud that they recognized Mike Baugh," Ireland said. "He does a fantastic job for me and our staff, he's someone I lean on. I get an award and this is my 28th year in the league and it's kind of like, it's because they recognize the name. They may not recognize some of the other names.
"You work hard, but not to impress anybody. You work hard because that's the job, and then there's people that recognize that and that's cool. You work your ass off to be on time, be there early and stay late because that is the job. But it's good that people recognize that and I think that's what you're really getting recognized for, is working hard and doing your job and being on time.
"As I always tell my scouts, your best ability is your dependability. Being there every single day, snow, sleet, whatever, sick, don't feel good, don't feel your best, you're always there. That's kind of what I try to pride myself on."
Matthews, one of the team's two pro scouts, has been in the personnel department since 2015. Prior to that he worked with Saints Vice President of Football Administration Khai Harley as a salary cap analyst, and he also worked in the video and stadium operations departments.
"It's an honor to be recognized by your peers, especially for the work you do," Matthews said. "That being said, an accolade like this is much more than an individual accomplishment. It's more indicative of the quality of work of the people who work beside me and that I work for in this organization. It's a place I love working, I'm fortunate to work here and I love what I do.
"It's the people, it's the bosses that I've worked for. Not just (Pro Personnel Director) Michael Parenton, who is an outstanding boss, but also just learning from Khai, from (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Mickey (Loomis), from Jeff.
"There's a simplicity to the job in the sense of the task perspective of just evaluating players, cataloging them. But really what I enjoy the most and I have respect for is kind of the complexity of the big picture, learning from those guys just how the whole puzzle comes together whether it's pro, college or a salary cap perspective."
Ireland said Matthews carries influence throughout the pro and scouting departments.
"Justin's extremely smart," Ireland said. "His voice grows in our department, even on the college side, every year. We call him 'Bulldog,' because that's kind of the way he approaches things. He's stubborn, in a really good way. Extremely smart and just really good at what he does."
NFL Prospects from Louisiana State University, Tulane University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Louisiana Tech attended Day 1 of the NFL Combine on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.