With the start of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine today in Indianapolis, Redskins fans can officially shift their focus to the long road to the NFL Draft.
The Scouting Combine was originally designed to provide teams with medical information on the players they might one day invest thousands of dollars in. Now, the Redskins will join the other 31 teams in attendance to mentally and physically poke and prod each of the 333 invitees in what has truly become the world’s most public job interview.
Wall-to-wall coverage of the Combine begins on the NFL Network Saturday morning at 9 a.m., and runs through next Wednesday evening. You can catch every 40-yard dash, 225-pound bench press, and three-cone drill in real time. You can watch as some NFL dreams take root, while others are stomped out.
Helping you and I understand the results and gauge the importance of the Combine is Redskins Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell, who is now entering his 13th season with the Washington Redskins.
As was highlighted in yesterday’s post, Campbell and his staff deserve huge credit for the scouting work that went into last year’s landmark draft. However, there is much more to be said by the soft-spoken director of college scouting, as he prepares for one of the biggest days of his NFL calendar.
Check out the rest of his interview below:
As was mentioned previously, Campbell was raised in a football family. For him, there was no doubt in his mind that he wanted to be immersed in the NFL culture.
“I wanted to be a coach like my Dad,” Campbell told Redskins.comTV.
Football was in his blood, but Campbell found his true calling in talent evaluation, where he was able to accurately project talent at the NFL level.
But that hasn’t always made for a glamorous lifestyle.
“I’ll head out in the middle of August to different college camps and come back [to the facilities in Ashburn] around Thanksgiving,” he said with a quiet smile. “I base that off of how our scouts have graded the players, the rising seniors, and I’ll take the top 150 players and start looking at the schedule to work it out so I see as many players as I can.”
The biggest source of pride for all scouts is finding the college diamond in the rough and turning them into a valuable NFL player. Perhaps no player personifies that better than sixth round pick Alfred Morris, who capitalized on opportunity, catching the eye of the Redskins’ scouting department and paying off well beyond his 173rd selection.
In retrospect, Morris’s NFL.com draft profile doesn’t quite do him justice as one of the best backs in the league last season, finishing with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie:
Morris doesn’t have NFL speed and will need to define himself more as a runner if he wants to make enough of an impression in a camp. He has the natural ability within the tackles to be successful, but at the NFL seams and holes are harder to come by and arm tackles difficult to avoid. Morris will need to prove himself as a thumper early, or else he will just be considered a situational back who doesn’t possess enough quality traits to deserve a roster spot.
I guess he had more quality traits than anyone could have predicted.
Morris racked up the third-most rookie rushing yards in NFL history, trailing only the great Eric Dickerson (1983 Rams) and George Rogers (1981 Saints), finishing as an All-Pro selection.
So how can one explain the unexpected production of a sixth-round pick? The answer is simple:
1. Great scouting: The Redskins scouts did their homework and studied the ins and outs of Morris’s game. They recognized the potential this 5′ 9″, 218-pound, relatively unknown talent from Florida Atlantic University possessed and his running style fit what the team was looking for scheme-wise.
2. Morris seized the opportunity: Morris took control of his destiny. He was given the opportunity to prove himself and he took full advantage of his reps during training camp and the preseason. From there, the coaching staff’s decision was easy to make him the feature back.
Bottom line, Morris’s work ethic, mentality and determination to become an impact player in this league wouldn’t allow him to be denied.
It’s the ability to find those hidden treasures, players who fit the scheme and who have a will-to-win mentality that’s key to building a winning franchise and bringing the winning tradition back to the Redskins.
As the talent level grows year-by-year, Campbell’s job increasingly becomes more important. It’s his job to do his due diligence researching every player that has the potential to play in the NFL.
You can just about guarantee that Campbell and the rest of the staff have a notebook on all 333 players at the combine, even the most obscure of names. But by this time in the process, the Redskins know the individual talents of each kid and have narrowed their focus.
“We focus on certain guys. We have draft and free agent boards,” Campbell said. “The players who we liked and went undrafted, we’ll bring in for a tryout. There are about 40-50 tryout players.”
And as he sat under the bright lights of the TV Studio at Redskins Park, Campbell exuded a clever confidence that he and the other scouts have done their research and are focused on building upon the 2012 NFC East Championship team.
Check back over the next week as Redskins.com keeps you up-to-date with Campbell and the rest of the Redskins’ scouting team, live from Indianapolis.
Tags: Alfred Morris, combine, NFL Draft, running back, scott campbell, scout
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