All 32 NFL teams had their first chance to meet with prospects at this year’s combine last night. Chargers.com sat down with Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Spanos after a long night of interviews to get his take on the interviews and much more
Chargers.com: So you just had the first of five nights of marathon interview sessions. In terms of priorities this week, where do these interviews rank?
Spanos: It’s up there toward the top in terms of priorities. We get a lot out of the interviews. It’s a chance for us to sit down with the player and really get to know him. We get a feel for his personality and what kind of kid he is, so it’s very important.
Chargers.com: Now you don’t have a ton of time with these guys. How do you maximize the short amount of time that you do have?
Spanos: Well what’s great is that we have some of our coaches in there and we get right down to it and we talk football. Every player is different in terms of what we might want to talk about given the player’s background or his playing history. So we find out what it is about that player that we want to learn more about and get more information on, so that’s the area we tend to focus on. So we really tailor each interview for each guy, and that’s how we maximize our time with them
Chargers.com: You’ve been doing this in various capacities for over 10 years. During that span, what have you learned that you look for the most in these interviews?
Spanos: I don’t think there’s any one single thing. Every player is different. I think just like when you meet someone for the first time, you go with your initial gut impression of that person and I think that’s applicable in this situation. You sort of can read people. Even though they are trained, you can see through that and get a feel for their true personalities and who they really are.
Chargers.com: This is obviously your first time with Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy. How’s it been working with them?
Spanos: It’s been really exciting. I think both Tom and Mike have brought great changes and are both real detail oriented, thorough guys. Now we’ve always done our due diligence in the past, and that hasn’t changed, but I’m excited to work with both of them.
Chargers.com: If you had to describe this year’s draft class in a few words, how would you describe it?
Spanos: I think every year there is depth to be found at every position, and I’d say this year is no different. I think it’s a really talented draft class, and I’m excited we have all our original picks to use in the draft. I’m excited to see the players that we get with those picks.
Chargers.com: You spend a lot of time in the fall visiting colleges to watch these guys practice and play in games. How do you weigh their performances in the fall to what they do here at the combine?
Spanos: I would say the biggest piece of the puzzle in a guy’s overall final grade is going to be how he plays on the field. It’s his tape and game performance and what he does with his pads on. That’s the main thing. All the other facts ultimately are pieces that go into a much bigger puzzle, but in terms of what he does on the field here compared to what he does in pads, it’s clearly more important what he does in games. Now, all the interviews we do here and the medical evaluations, that stuff is very important. It’s arguably the most important part of this whole process.
Chargers.com: When it comes to the interviews, does a player typically have a better chance of improving their stock or doing damage to it? I guess what I’m asking is if the risk matches up to the possible reward?
Spanos: I think for these guys, they should look at it as a great opportunity to improve their draft stock more than anything else. And you see that time and time again. A guy will come in, do a great job in the interviews and in the timing and testing and all that does is boost their draft stock.