What are some of the things you look for in the interview process with players?
“Well, it’s challenging because it’s only 15 minutes. So the first thing you get is a first impression, you get a chance to hear a player talk. The first part of the interview is background. You find out a little bit about his family, what other sports he’s played, brothers, sisters and who those important people are in his life. You try to find out if there are any off the field incidents, so as much as you can in five minutes on background. The next 10 minutes of the meeting is spent on football and really football IQ. In a very short period of time, we’re trying to find out how quickly can a player learn. That’s one of the hardest things for our scouts to get. You can watch the tape, talk to the coaches and you can look at grade point averages and find out if he’s a college graduate but one of the challenges for us is finding out how quickly he can learn football. Often times, players who don’t really score well on certain IQ test are exceptional learners. They may just, for whatever reason, not have tested well. So the first five minutes is background information and the next 10 minutes is football IQ.”
How much stock do you put into the on-field drills?
“You have to be careful not to elevate a player or bring a player down too much because of this. The very, very original purpose of the combine was for the teams to combine information medically. I would say the most important part of the week is injury history, health, are there any type of prescription drugs the player has to take? So that combine referred to combining the information medically on every player that is draft eligible. Then you get into some of the drill specific things. You get a chance to see them do certain drills and I think more importantly compare them over the last 10 years to players that scored the same way they did in a broad jump or a 40-yard dash or in a shuttle. I think most importantly, you have a history of video tape. I think that really is the most important, the production that this player has had in college. I also think it’s the first time for a lot of us to meet these players. We just finished interviewing a receiver who was outstanding in the room and you can really visualize this player on our team. Those impressions are extremely important.”
This franchise has done a really good job at drafting the best players available and not for need. How important is it to stay away from reaching for a need and being able to get the best guy available?
“I think it is very important. I think the need sometimes factors in when two players are great and very close. You’re hoping during the course of the draft, as magnets are coming off the board, when you’re approaching your pick that there is still one elevated clearly higher than the others. That decision is an easy one. The more challenging decision that happens often times, is a clumping of magnets that still remain at a certain level. There is a linebacker, a safety and two receivers. Then you really get into the specifics and depending on the round you are in, you’re kind of moving there and you’re actually clumping those players in a circle and talking about them 15 picks before you select, pros and cons and what we think. It’s not an exact science but I think the one thing we try to do is select guys that we feel like are going to fit our locker room. Guys that are going to be accountable and love football and we kind of feel a little bit of an obligation to the current locker room. A guy that our players would currently want us to bring in.”
Do you know how many pro days you guys will attend and how important are those?
‘”They’re important because there are a number of players who might not workout at the combine because of an injury they’re still recovering from. There’s a small percentage of the players, and they’re generally players that are going to be taken in those first 15-20 picks that may elect to not necessarily do the drills at the combine but wait to do them on their pro day. Our scouts… This is an extremely busy time of the year. Those guys are flying in and out, driving to campuses. The pro days will take place in the days leading up to the draft. They’re also important because what you are wanting to do is have all of the blanks filled in. You’re wanting to have all of the tests. You’re wanting to have the agility, all the drills so you can punch it into your computer base and at least recall information, whether it is his injury history, his grades. You’re trying to factor all those things in to get your best grade."