As things get underway here in Indianapolis, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Spanos is on hand to give his always insightful view into the inner workings of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Chargers.com: John, you’ve been to many combines. Do you have a routine when you get into town here?
Spanos: The players start to arrive in waves. The o-linemen and special teams are the first players to arrive. Once they begin the height/weight measurement stations and all that, it becomes like Groundhog’s Day where every day is the same thing but with different positions. So I think you have no choice but to get into a routine because it’s like every day is the same thing once it all starts.
Spanos: It is certainly a big piece. I like to say that the meat of a guy’s grade is going to be the tape work, the college film and what he does on the field. And then there are tons of other things that go into his overall grade as well, and all those other things you sort of get to investigate here and get your hands on as far as the interviews, the medicals and certainly heights and weights and all that. So it’s a large piece and a lot gets done this week, but I always think the meat is that film study.
Chargers.com: Is there any one specific thing that you get a lot of knowledge out of? Is there any one drill or test that you get a lot out of?
Spanos: I think every player is different. For some players we may be looking forward most to meeting with him in the interview and getting to know the player. For another, it may be seeing him on the field go through certain position drills because maybe he’s a projection for us to change positions. We need to see how he can athletically move in a certain drill (which) is something we didn’t get to see on tape because he didn’t play that position. So I think it kind of depends on the player.
Chargers.com: Has the Combine really changed at all since the first time you were out here?
Spanos: Yeah, it has actually. When I first started coming to this it was not on TV. There were not cameras everywhere. It wasn’t the media deal that it is now. I think it’s great for the fans to be able to watch it at home and follow it closely. It seems like it’s grown a lot since I first started coming. The players are fully outfitted now head to toe in gear, and it’s grown a lot.
Chargers.com: Talk about guys that are consensus to go in the first round. What do they gain by coming to the Combine?
Spanos: Well to be honest, this time of year I’m not sure there is any consensus top guys. I think maybe in the media there might be, but you never know what a team’s thinking. I think a lot of these guys, especially the underclassmen, this is really the first time that we get to see them up close hands on and talk to them. For the underclassmen it’s the first time we get a verified height and weight. How tall is this guy? How much does he really weigh? So there are a lot of things to find out, and for a good number of players this is our first exposure to them.
Chargers.com: Has there ever been a player that you can remember where the Combine was what made him and really brought him to the forefront in people’s minds?
Spanos: You know, I don’t think the Combine ever really brings someone to the forefront because every player here is obviously a very talented player. There are thousands of players that are considered for the Combine and only a few hundred get invited, so every player that is here is clearly on everyone’s radar. What you touched on earlier, this is a time for us with those top prospects and some other guys to shore up some things maybe that we’re not sure about. And then once those questions are answered, it can boost a guy’s stock or kind of complete the puzzle in terms of his overall picture.
Chargers.com: When it comes to the people out here, you see scouts and you see coaches. How does that information mesh together when you get back to San Diego?
Spanos: That’s a great question because there’s a lot of information that’s gathered. Not just coaches and scouts but our trainers as well meeting in terms of the medical information. So a lot of that comes together in the form of meetings. We’ll sit down with our doctors. We’ll sit down with our coaches. We’ll sit down with our scouts. And of course we organize all this information technology wise in terms of our information system and computer system. So a lot of that gets sucked in there. We’re able to run reports and have one-stop shop reports where we get to view everything. So it’s a lot of information to digest, but at the end of the day we’re sure to organize it all carefully.