By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Scott Campbell focuses on details and reviews his work often, especially at this time of year. Campbell, the Washington Redskins' director of player personnel, is in charge of preparing the team for next weekend's draft, and being attentive is an important part of his job.
"We're paranoid in scouting because you don't want to miss anything," Campbell said. "My worst fear, in terms of preparation for the draft or free agency, is that you've missed something. You have to make sure you've taken care of all the details. You have to be prepared."
A Redskins player-personnel official since 2001, Campbell, 46, was recently promoted to oversee Washington's college and pro scouting, and he will have a major role in devising the team's strategy for the April 26-27 draft. Campbell has a key position in Washington's new management structure, and the Redskins expect big things from this draft.
"We like our team," said Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations. "We have good players, and they're good people, so we feel like we're in good shape. What we want to do now is add quality and quantity. We haven't had a lot of picks in the past, but we do have a lot this year, so we've got a chance to do that. That's what the goal is."
Barring trades to change their position, Washington will pick 21st in the first round. The Redskins have nine picks (they do not have a fourth-round selection), including three compensatory picks -- an extra one in the third round and two additional seventh-round picks.
The Redskins declined to pursue free agents to address most of their needs, so they will rely on the draft to fill holes along the offensive and defensive lines, at wide receiver, cornerback and safety. The team also plans to use a pick on a quarterback to fill the No. 3 job behind starter Jason Campbell and backup Todd Collins.
Several draft prognosticators believe that the team will select a wide receiver or a defensive end with the 21st pick, but the Redskins also are strongly considering taking an offensive lineman in the first round, said several sources involved in Washington's process. The Redskins are expected to consider trading down, sources said, and such a move could make the most sense depending on how the top 20 picks unfold. As is typical of the draft, the Redskins will be at the mercy of teams that pick before them, and names at the top of their internal board will continue to change as they reevaluate every position in the draft during the next two weeks.
The age and the health of the offensive line are among the team's top concerns, so the Redskins hope to draft a versatile lineman who could challenge for time at guard immediately and could even start soon at tackle, sources said. Virginia guard-tackle Branden Albert (6 feet 7, 315 pounds) is highly regarded by the Redskins, sources said, and he would be considered a steal at 21.
"You're always looking to get better in a lot of areas; you want to make it the best you can everywhere," said Campbell, not commenting specifically on the Redskins' draft discussions. "Just the fact that we've all been together so long on both sides of it, through the pro evaluations and the college evaluations, I know what he [Cerrato] needs and I know what we need as an organization."
In January, owner Daniel Snyder put Cerrato in charge of football operations (former coach Joe Gibbs also held the title of team president). In Cerrato's first move running the organization, he promoted Campbell, who had served as director of college scouting since 2005.
Louis Riddick, director of pro personnel, and all of Washington's scouts now report to Campbell. Cerrato's new top lieutenant, Campbell has become "Vinny's eyes and ears for the whole [scouting] department," Campbell said. "It frees him to do other things now because he's got responsibility over more things. He's got the training staff to deal with, the PR staff, video . . . he has to make sure all that's working. He's got more duties, so I just see my role as enabling him not to worry about the personnel stuff."
Campbell, who was an offensive lineman in college at Georgia, is considered a highly capable player-personnel official, league sources said. He began his NFL career as a scout with the Atlanta Falcons in 1987, also worked as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs and was the Chicago Bears' director of pro personnel in 2000. He joined the Redskins in 2001, first serving as director of college scouting and then as the head of pro personnel.
From the outset with Washington, Campbell has been one of Cerrato's trusted advisors, providing insight about players. Cerrato has considered Campbell's input while selecting players in the draft and pursuing free agents. And now Campbell is running the department that provides the foundation for success in the NFL.
"He'll take direction from me to organize it, but I'm the type that will . . . let him do it how he wants to," Cerrato said. "I'm not going to be on him every day. I'll let him run his department the way he feels comfortable. I'm not going to micromanage him, not at all, and you know why? When I went to Notre Dame [as the recruiting coordinator in 1986], the only thing [former coach] Lou Holtz told me was that he wanted the best recruiting in the country, so go get it done.
"Those were my parameters. He wanted the best and he let me do it my way. That's the way he did it. When you do it that way, you give people a chance to expand their wings and put their own name on it. That's how you grow and you develop. That's what Scott needs to do too. He needs room to do things how he feels comfortable."
Campbell said he appreciates the freedom Cerrato has given him to run his department, which still has a lot of work to do before the draft.
"I never want him to be in a position where there's someone we've missed, or he has a question about someone and I don't have an answer," Campbell said. "But we've been together now almost seven years, so we're kind of on the same page in terms of what needs to get done."