A year after getting an early and up-close look at draft prospects because he and his staff coached one of the teams at the Senior Bowl, Mike Shanahan reverted to his normal custom of giving his coaches some time off for the final weeks of January, putting the task of evaluating talent in Mobile, Ala., squarely in the hands of the front office.
Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen observed the three days of contact practices from a perch high in the stands at Ladd Peebles Stadium. Vice president of football administration Eric Schaffer also attended. Meanwhile, director of player personnel Scott Campbell and his five college scouts took notes during the practices, interviewed some players after the sessions and then conducted additional interviews with prospects back at the team hotel each evening.
“This is our first chance to interact with players in the evening, and it’s real quick,” Campbell says. “But it’s just a chance to see the personalities, talk to them about their season, how it’s going here, and it’s also, really, the last time to see them in pads because from here on out, they’re not in pads any more. So it’s exciting to see actual real football – not the combine Olympics.”
The Redskins’ scouts left Mobile on Thursday, and no conclusions have been made on players just yet. They will compile their notes into reports and present them to Shanahan and his coaches, who will return from their break right after the Super Bowl. From those findings, determinations will be made on which players they will interview at the NFL combine in late February.
“This is the scouts’ perspective: This is still a research mission for us. We’re researching for ourselves,” Campbell explains. “There are guys that we talk to and I talk to here that we are going to talk to at the combine. Coach Shanahan and Jim [Haslett] and Kyle [Shanahan] are going to want to talk to those guys further at the combine. So, I’ve met with guys at night and have said, ‘I’m going to be talking to you again at the combine so our coaches can talk to you.’ We’re doing our research here.
“I’m formulating my own opinion on these guys, so when Bruce and Mike ask me what do I think, I’ve done my research, I know, and I can tell them,” Campbell concludes.
Senior Bowl Week represented the culmination of Campbell and his staff’s season-long research leading up to the combine. After scouting prospects in college games, additional evaluation was done at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles and the East-West Shrine Game in Florida last week.
After Shanahan took over in 2010 and placed a higher emphasis on building through the draft, Washington – leaning heavily on the assessments of Campbell and his staff – drafted Senior Bowl participants Roy Helu Jr., Niles Paul, Leonard Hankerson, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Neild in 2011. Then in 2012, the Redskins drafted Senior Bowl participants Alfred Morris, Keenan Robinson and Kirk Cousins.
The Redskins’ top offseason priorities are believed to be safety, cornerback and right tackle. With the Senior Bowl rosters boasting depth at those positions, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of the game’s participants wind up on Washington’s roster this year.
But it’s still too early to tell, according to Campbell.
“It’s such an early part of the process,” he says. “The main thing is, this is the cream of the crop out here. So, the odds of us drafting a couple of these guys are pretty good.”
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