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Combore 2009

Combore 2009

There's even a logo for it.
(I posted this a year ago but it bears repeating. I'm not sure if the number of media credentials still is 400; it may be down a bit due to the state of the newspaper business, but the larger points remain.)

I'm an NFL writer. I'm an NFL guy. But I couldn't possibly be less interested in the alleged NFL "event" going on this weekend.

The combine (I refuse to capitalize it) is all over the sports media. There were some 400 media credentials issued for the gathering, more than one for every player participating. Every paper has its team beat reporters in Indianapolis. Sirius NFL radio is there for many of its daily shows. The omnipresent ESPN is there. The NFL Network is the worst, carrying hour upon tedious hour of live coverage from the RCA Dome and the various other media centers in downtown Indy. They're even counting down highlights and showing classic combine moments from years past.

And why are they all there? To watch a bunch of college dropouts run around in shorts and t-shirts doing a variety of tasks, most of which are unrelated to football. The prospects run the 40, do a vertical jump from a standing start, pump iron, run laterally over some pads lined up on the ground, and do something called a three-cone drill. They get weighed, measured, poked and prodded. Fortunately, the TV coverage does not include the weigh-in which, I understand, in conducted in minimal clothing.

The purpose of this is to provide NFL coaches and general managers with what they call "measurables". That way, in three years when five of a given team's seven draft picks are working at Best Buy, the GM can go to his boss and say, "but our second-round guy ran a 4.355 40 and the fifth-rounder had a shuttle drill time that was off the charts." Of course, he won't remind his boss that he ignored the fact that those draftees were utterly unproductive on the field of play.

For their part, most of the players have put a dent into the former schools' graduation rates, dropping out to prepare full-time for the combine. A cottage industry has sprung up centered around training NFL prospects in the finer points of the shuttle run and shaving a few hundredths of a second off of their 40 times. All of this is bankrolled by eager agents, who front the kids expense money is exchange for a hefty chunk of their first few paychecks.

I suppose it's necessary, a good way for all of the teams to pool their resources and get some needed information. And it would be a bit much for a prospect to have to run the 40-yard dash 32 times. The economy of scale does make some sense.

But 400 media credentials? There are pressers going on almost constantly, providing quotes, notes and nuggets to fuel the 24/7 sports media machine. It's kind of like the event we had all of two and a half weeks ago in Tampa. I mean, has that much changed since the Super Bowl that we need a whole new round of it?

At least in Tampa the media frenzy was centered on an actual event, a football game for the NFL championship. This weekend's press opportunity revolves around something that's sort of like a track meet minus the crowds, the excitement, and the awarding of medals.

I'm usually a sucker for anything with the letters "NFL" as part of name. But I'll pass on this one.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.