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A piece of the puzzle

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006


    Jen Rojas
    Posted Mar 1, 2010

    Chargers executives, coaches, scouts and medical staff have been in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, which Director of College Scouting John Spanos calls “a piece of the puzzle” as the team prepares for April’s draft.

    After hours of film study and numerous college visits, another piece of the draft selection process began for the Chargers when the 2010 NFL Combine began on February 24 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
    More than 330 college players were invited to the combine where they will be put through a series of drills, medical tests and interviews. The six-day job interview provides all 32 NFL team’s coaches, general managers, scouts and doctors valuable insight into a prospective NFL player.
    Each prospect is weighed and measured when they arrive. They’re then put through measurable drills during the day and conduct interview sessions at night, one with scouts and position coaches, followed by a session with the general managers and head coaches.
    The interview sessions are the first time the team brass gets an opportunity to sit down with a player face-to-face and get to know them as more than a body on game tape.
    “I think one of the most important things we get from the Combine is what goes on off the field,” said Chargers Director of College Scouting John Spanos, who will spend much of his time in the interview rooms. “We learn about who they are in the interview process. We’ll sit with the players one-on-one to find out about them personally.”
    The medical history of a prospect also plays a vital role in the player evaluation.
    “The fact we get the medical information in terms of his long term prognosis for his physical health coming into the NFL is essential,” said Jimmy Raye, Chargers Director of Player Personnel. “It’s important because some guys have a shorter shelf-life than others just because they’re coming into the NFL with injuries and some guys are coming in with a clean bill of health. It can work both ways.”
    For prospects, this is their time to impress would-be employers, and they will use the on-field drills to display their athleticism. Some of the drills they will encounter are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill and the shuttle run.
    The workouts can generate a lot of attention as players have been preparing for the drills for months.
    “I personally like to see a guy compete,” Raye said. “You have the best players in the country, the best of the best. I want to see how a guy competes on the field against his peers. Also, you don’t get a full speed drill when you go to a school and watch a kid practice. It’s nice to see movement ability, athleticism, change of direction ability, knee bend and what kind of flexibility a player has on the field. At the same time, you get to see each guy in comparison to the best guys in his position doing the exact same drill. It’s helpful.”
    Spanos doesn’t discount the importance of on-field drills, but believes it is second to the player’s game performance.
    “Seeing them workout is not nearly as important as what they do in games or in pads, but it gives us a little bit of an idea of some of the player’s athletic ability,” Spanos said. “Especially getting to see them do some things that maybe they might not have done in college in the schemes they play.”
    In the end, a combine performance will serve as one of many factors in evaluating a prospect, but it alone will not ultimately sway a team’s decision on draft day.
    “It’s definitely a big part of the draft process, but it’s not the entire piece of the puzzle,” Spanos said. “It’s one of the many pieces of the puzzle that goes into the final process. People often ask what a good week here can do for a player. It certainly can boost his stock, but it’s never going to override what a player does on the field throughout the course of an entire season or entire collegiate career. It definitely plays an important role.”
    The Combine not only serves as a talent-evaluation platform, but also is the backdrop to some behind-the-scenes business with the movers and shakers in the NFL.
    “A lot of business gets done out here,” Raye said. “Not only do you have agents of players coming into the league, but you have agents of players in the league. With free agency coming up and the start of the new league year in a couple weeks, there is so much business being done behind-the-scenes. There are a lot of general managers and capologists talking to agents about different players contract situations and on whether you’re going to move players or keep players or how are you going to tender a player. It’s almost like an NFL convention in a lot of ways.”
    After the combine, team scouts will review their notes and move on to the next step in the process, visiting college campuses for Pro Day workouts.
    The Chargers select 28th in the first round and hold picks in each round except in the sixth-round (traded for Travis Johnson[​IMG]) in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft.


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