For almost two decades, Tim Gribble has been a part of the Washington Redskins scouting department.
Gribble joined the Redskins as a pro personnel assistant in 2002, added the responsibility of the team's Northeast scout a year later and has also covered the South and Midwest regions during his first 16 seasons with the organization.
In 2017, Gribble was promoted to the assistant director of college scouting, working closely with then director of college scouting, Kyle Smith. And when Smith was elevated to Vice President of Player Personnel in January, Gribble took over the team's collegiate scouting efforts.
"Tim is an outstanding scout and veteran in the league," Smith said. "My tremendous working relationship with Gribbs, coupled with his 20-plus years of experience and 19 years as a Redskin, made the decision an easy one."
Upon returning from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Gribble spoke to Redskins.com about a variety of topics, including his longstanding relationship with Smith, working with almost an entirely new coaching staff, what goes into evaluating prospects and more.
Question: What has it been like working with Vice President of Pro Personnel Kyle Smith?
Tim Gribble: I've known Kyle a long time now, and we've always had a great relationship. An open football relationship -- we talk players all the time, we bounce ideas off each other. I feel like I'm a sounding board for him. It's been awesome. Kyle's an awesome guy to work with, not only as an evaluator but as a friend.
What has made Smith so successful since he's been with the Redskins?
Gribble: Honestly, I feel like he was born to do it from Day 1. He's always had a very introspective perspective on the players. Obviously with his background with his dad being involved in football, he's been talking college football players for his whole entire life. It was amazing to see the very first time we were in draft meetings, the first presentation that he gave, going over guys, it sounded like he had been doing it for 20 years. He's awesome. As long as I've been in it, he's one of the best that I've ever been around.
You're entering your 21st season in the NFL and was recently promoted to director of college scouting. What has this journey been like for you up to this point, and what does it mean for you to have that director of college scouting role?
Gribble: I've never been one to focus on titles. I've always just put pride in doing my work and what I was assigned to do, and I figured as long as I kept doing a good job, that good things would eventually happen.
How does your role change going from assistant director to director?
Gribble: I'm going to be more hands-on with our area scouts. I'll be handling more of the day-to-day stuff as far as, right now, what I've been working on all morning long, is the Pro Days that we're going to have coverage with. In the past, that's something Kyle would handle. That's what I've been doing since I woke up this morning, trying to map everything out, make sure we have everything covered so we're not surprised by anything.
How does your relationship with Smith change now that you're both in different roles?
Gribble: I don't think it's going to change a whole lot. We've always been close and we've always shared our ideas and thoughts on guys with each other. Just bouncing different perspectives off one another -- what I see, what he sees -- comparing them to guys we've seen in the past. I think we're going to continue with that. We did that when we were area scouts together and then also when we were promoted, we just continued to do that same thing.
What has your relationship been with Coach Rivera?
Gribble: Coach Rivera has been great. He's very approachable, he's easy to talk to, he's looking for our point of view. Of course, we're not always going to agree on everything, but he's definitely open to listening to what we have to say. It's just been awesome. The interview process out in Indy was great, too, just seeing the coaches interact with the guys that we had in the interviews. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be awesome.
How does Rivera compare to past head coaches that you have worked with? Is he going to have more say in personnel decisions than other coaches might have had? And how does that change the relationship you have with him?
Gribble: It's going to be a collaborative process. We're going to meet on guys. We're going to give our point of view, they're going to give their point of view and we're going to hash it out. If there are disagreements, we'll put on the tape and we'll watch it. We'll explain what we see and they'll explain what they see and we'll come to a decision together.
Take a look at the top photos from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN. Photos by NFL.
What was the NFL Scouting Combine like for the scouting department with almost an entirely new coaching staff?
Gribble: It was good. We're still kind of in the "feeling out" phases. We're still kind of reintroducing ourselves to one another. And then basically we've been talking about the players, talking about who have you had a chance to look at, what do you like, what don't you like, how do you think he'll fit in to what we're doing going forward. Giving them our point of view of what we like and what we don't like and then maybe giving a little bit more insight to the player's background as far as how the kid is wired, if he's a good kid or somebody we think will fit into our culture and be a good teammate going forward.
How did having the combine workouts at night change things for the scouting department?
Gribble: It was a little bit of an adjustment at first, but it was fine. Pretty much everything was flipped. We did a lot of the interviews in the morning instead of the evenings and then the workouts were in the evenings. I thought it went fine. I didn't really have any problems with how things were switched. It was hard to concentrate timing [40-yard dashes] at 9 o'clock at night after doing it all day, but you just get yourself a coffee and have at it. It was good. I didn't mind the change.
What do you think is the most important aspect of the combine: interviews, workouts or medicals?
Gribble: Medical. It's the medical. It gives our doctors a chance to evaluate them, and that's really the main thing. It's the cost-effectiveness of all the medicals in the same place. Instead of us having to fly in 150 guys to the Redskins facility to get a physical, we fly them all to one location and teams can all share the same information. It's cost-effective. That's the main thing.
How important are the workouts and the interviews in terms of the overall evaluation of the prospects?
Gribble: It's just a piece of the puzzle. For me, I've always relied on the game film, and that's the basis of my opinion on a player. Really the game film and the information I've gathered at the school on the kid's background and their character. That's where I've always based my foundation on. The workout at the combine and the 40-yard dash at the combine are just checks and balances for you. If you see something at the combine, that might force you to go back and check on the information that you got in the fall. So if the guy runs really fast and I didn't think he ran fast on tape, then I'll put more tape on and watch more tape on the guy. Same way with the interview process. If the interview does not go very well, then I'll check back with my contacts at the school. Everybody has a bad day or has a bad 15 minutes, so it's really just a checks and balances for the entire process. But I've always leaned on the information I've gathered in the fall, both the background and the ability.
How much do analytics factor into the Redskins' scouting philosophies and evaluations?
Gribble: They factor in, but again, it's a checks and balances. Some people call them analytics, some people call them statistics. They're just different buzz words, and that stuff has been used forever. Some of the trends, we'll look at it, and if something doesn't add up, then we'll go back and look at the tape again. We've found some correlations with some of the positions where some of the analytics seem to add up, and if someone either falls in those parameters or does not fall in those parameters, we'll go back and look at them again. It's just a tool that helps us make a good decision.
How much does free agency impact the draft board?
Gribble: We're always trying to get the best player available. We're always going to be aggressive and take a player that's going to help our team. So if we make a big free agent signing but we have a chance to grab a good college player, we're always going to go ahead and be aggressive and get two good players instead of just one.
Now that the combine is over, what are the scouting department's main responsibilities leading up to the NFL Draft?
Gribble: The Pro Days are our last chance to basically quadruple check what we have. We want to check back in with the people who we talked to at the school to make sure we have everything that we need on the player that we're interested in. So not only the actual workout at the Pro Day, but it's also another opportunity to gather more information about the person we're looking at. We want to leave no doubt in anyone's mind that the guy that we draft is going to be our type of guy. So, this is the last opportunity to make sure we have that right, not only as a player but as a person.
How many Pro Days do you go to as a staff?
Gribble: We're pretty much at a Pro Day Monday through Friday for the entire month of March and into April now. I'm looking at my calendar now, and on [March 11] there's a dozen Pro Days. Everyone will be out that day. The whole department will be out.
Finally, what do you think is the biggest determinant of future success for prospects?
Gribble: How they're wired. Smarts, toughness and their desire to be great.