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At College All-Star Games, Redskins Focus On Intangibles

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They've looked at game tapes, made notes, produced a ton of paperwork.

Now the Redskins scouts get to meet the very people they've studied since late summer in preparation for the NFL's April draft.

"The reports are in, the visits are made, now it's the all-star month. The East-West Shrine Game is this week and then the Senior Bowl, where we actually get to interview the players along with watching them practice. It will be our first chance to interview and start to get to know the kids," says Scott Campbell, the Redskins' director of player personnel.

The Shrine Game will be played Saturday in Orlando but the important part for most scouts is not the actual game-day competition but the one-on-one sessions and the practices. The height and weight measurements began on Monday.

Sounds a little funny to go to the Shrine Game and then not stay for the game, doesn't it? The team will get tapes of the game and review them but the critical details it seeks about the players reveal themselves in the days before Saturday's kickoff.

"It's all the little things you look for when you're scouting a player," says Campbell, who has worked in the NFL for 24 seasons, the last 10 with the Redskins. "At practice, you see who the competitors are. They're in an environment where they know they're being watched, they know they're playing against other good players and you like to see the real competitors stand up."

There aren't as many opportunities for that sort of intelligence-gathering anymore. There just aren't as many post-season all-star games. No more Blue-Gray Game, which, on Christmas Day, spotlighted players from smaller colleges. No more Hula Bowl, which provided at least an excuse to go to Hawaii.

The Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 29, provide the main venues for scouts and coaches to spend some time with prospects and get a feel for the person behind the statistics in a situation where teams are preparing for a game. They get another crack at it during the Indianapolis scouting combine but that's more about drills, physical exams and psychological workups than head-to-head matchups.

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Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor

"You find out who the leaders are, the natural leaders the kids are gravitating to. You see who the coaches are getting on, who can't learn the plays. If you're paying attention, all that stuff shows up and it is stuff you can't see in the game. It's all the little things you can pick up watching a practice," Campbell says.

There's also the chance to see the players when they're under the tutelage of experienced NFL hands. Long-time NFL head coach Dan Reeves will coach the East team at the Shrine Game, while Wade Phillips, late of the Dallas Cowboys and currently the Houston Texans defensive coordinator, handles the West team.

Among the East's players: Quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech and Pat Devlin of Delaware and defensive tackle Marvin Austin of North Carolina. On the West: Oregon receiver Jeffrey Maehl, Boise State linebacker Winston Venable, Southern Illinois cornerback Korey Lindsey, Maryland running back Da'rel Scott.

Following the Senior Bowl, the scouting department will gather to go through reports, analyze players and get lists and rankings ready for the coaches to examine after the Super Bowl.

"Every team schedules its meetings differently. Some teams are meeting now, before the all-star games. Some do it after," Campbell says. "What we do, after the Senior Bowl, all the college scouts will come in and we'll meet for 10 days and go through all the reports and get our listing from a scout's standpoint where we have players listed and ranked by position. We'll finish right after the Super Bowl. We'll go home for a couple of days and then we'll go to the combine."

That set of weights, measures, sprints and bench presses is set for Feb. 23-March 1. We'll tell you more about it and the final racking and stacking of potential draft candidates as it approaches.


Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for Redskins.com and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at Redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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