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Adam Peters takes important first steps in draft process at Senior Bowl

01162024 Adam Peters Press Conference KC49583

Adam Peters smiled as he watched the final practice of the Senior Bowl from the sideline of Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Peters, who was hired as the Washington Commanders' general manager last month, has gone through several "firsts" over the last few weeks as he gets adjusted to his new role. Most of the work he's done since his introductory press conference, notably adding input in finding a new head coach, has been unfamiliar territory for him.

Evaluating prospects and figuring out how they could improve the roster is nothing new to him, though.

"I got to relax a little bit, watch this last practice and see the guys run around," Peters said. "I got to meet Chris Paul, one of our players. He was watching his younger brother [Patrick Paul], which is a neat deal. It was fun today."

Scores of players packed the stadium at the University of South Alabama last week for the 2024 Senior Bowl, providing scouts, coaches and executives with an in-person look at what they can offer to a team at the professional level. No team is going to draft a player solely on what they showed during the three days of practice and the game (for those wondering, the National team won, 16-7), but the all-star game is an important piece to help Peters and the Commanders figure out how they should use their nine draft picks.

"Just really seeing how guys compete, seeing how they move in person," Peters said. "It really helps you a lot when you can see a guy in person after you see them on film. It helps you complete the picture, makes you convicted on certain guys, one way or the other."

The Senior Bowl has grown rapidly in popularity since Jim Nagy, the Executive Director of the all-star game and a former NFL scout, began heading up the event. With practices open to the public, NFL coaches leading both American and National teams and the opportunity for prospects to interview with executives, it's become one of the tentpole events leading up to the NFL Draft in April.

Although every team has a presence at the Senior Bowl, not every general manager or head of football operations attends the event in person. Teams have access to all the practice film, so there's technically not a need for them to spend much time in Mobile, Alabama. 

Peters could not attend the first part of the week, mostly because he had to wrap up bringing in Dan Quinn to be the Commanders' 31st head coach, but he was there to see the last practice and interview prospects that evening. As someone who spent the first 11 years of his career as a scout, Peters knows the benefits that can come with physically seeing prospects, rather than watching them on film.

"I like...feeling them out and seeing them, seeing how big they are, seeing how they move, seeing how they hit," Peters said. "You get one last piece of the evaluation there."

Figuring out how the Commanders should use their draft capital -- the have five picks in the top 100 -- is one of, if not the most important part of Peters' job. Most of the outside attention is on the No. 2 overall pick, which Peters called "a great opportunity." Many speculate that Washington could take a quarterback at that spot, and there are several players available at the position if that's the direction Peters and Quinn choose to go. 

None of the players projected to go in the top 10 picks attended the Senior Bowl, though, which serves as a reminder that as important as it is to get the right player with the second pick, there's a good chance that much of Washington's future will be shaped by the rest of the draft capital.

As Peters told Logan Paulsen and Bryan Colbert Jr. on a recent episode of "Command Center," all the draft picks are "very valuable."

"In order to be successful in the draft, it's about that process," Peters said. "It's about...having coaches and scouts and analytics, everything on the same page. Everybody's on the same page, communicating with each other."

Peters and the Commanders are still months away from making finals decisions on their draft picks. The scouting combine will present more opportunities in three weeks to see players in person, and the staff will have several discussions on how each prospect fits within their new vision for the roster. The Senior Bowl was one of the first steps towards making those choices.

"You're just getting started," Peters said. "You're getting to see these guys, a lot of them for the first time in person. Tonight, we get to interview them, so there's a lot of little different data points that we can start piecing together. We'll have some meetings, talk about these guys and then make a great decision in April."

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