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At Combine, Interviews Key In Evaluation

Redskins coaches and scouts have spent hours at the NFL Scouting Combine watching prospects run the 40-yard dash, lift weights, go through a series of drills, and get weighed and measured.

They've watched young quarterbacks throw passes, linemen run between cones and wide receivers perform standing long jumps, among other drills.

But what was most important for Redskins coaches and officials at the combine, which concluded on Tuesday, were the player interviews and the medical and psychological testing.

"Those are ways that players can come off our draft board," vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said during the combine. "The things that happen on the field at the combine--guys don't come off the draft board for that, that's just more information to go along with your evaluation.

"But if a guy flunks a physical or flunks a drug test, they come off the board. They're eliminated. That's why those things are so critical. The interview process is critical, too. We want a guy who fits in. We want a guy who works hard. We want a guy who's going to be a good Redskin and good in the locker room."

The player interviews, similar to a job interview, were typically conducted with a position coach on hand alongside director of college scouting Scott Campbell. By league rule, teams were permitted to interview up to 60 players--for no more than 15 minutes--at the Scouting Combine.

It is in these interviews that team officials get a sense of a player's intelligence, heart and character.

"We have a list of questions that we'll ask every individual kid," Cerrato said. "We also have our position coaches sit down and talk with guys so they can get position-specific."

The Redskins go into the NFL Draft without a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick due to last year's trade with the Denver Broncos. The team has a second-round pick, a third-round pick, a fifth-rounder, two sixth-rounders and a seventh-rounder.

Discussing the Redskins' player evaluation process at the combine, head coach Joe Gibbs pointed back to his squads of the 1980s and early 1990s, when undrafted free agent pickups like offensive linemen Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic helped the team win three Super Bowl championships.

"For me, you know how fast they can run and how high they can jump and you watch them athletically," Gibbs said during his media session at the combine. "Everyone out there is going to have talent. But that's not the number one thing you are looking for. You're trying to see what kind of character he has because I think that will determine success at the NFL level and what type of career they have.

"It's interesting hearing their feedback. You get some idea of whether they're on the same page as you are. The interviews are very short and sweet, but they're very useful. Sometimes you come out of the meetings saying, 'Hey, I'd like to have that guy.' You can tell by a five-minute conversation if someone is very impressive."

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