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At Senior Bowl, Redskins Get First Look at Top Prospects

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For months, Redskins scouts could only watch college prospects from afar.

They attended bowl games and spent countless hours watching film. They visited college campuses all over the country to gather more information.

Finally, this week at the Senior Bowl, they get a chance to actually meet the players.

Once again, the Redskins have sent a contingent of personnel officials and coaches to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and director of pro personnel Scott Campbell are expected to be among Redskins staff in attendance.

The game, pitting teams from the North and South, is this Saturday, Jan. 24, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.

The North team is coached by Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff, while the South team is led by Jack Del Rio and the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff.

Campbell, like most personnel officials, puts an emphasis on the practices.

"What we like about it is that it's coached by NFL staffs," Campbell said. "With the way practices are set up and the drills that they're doing, it's similar to what we do. These are the premiere guys in the draft and they're in full pads."

It's a busy day for Campbell, who must evaluate 100 of the country's best senior college football players in a short period of time.

"We're trying to watch them all as the practice progresses," Campbell said. "They start out with warm-ups. Then you watch the defensive backs and the wide receivers go through their individual drills. Then you move on to the one-on-one drills, which are the most fun to watch. And then you move on to the team drills."

What makes the one-on-one drills so fun?

"Well, it can be hard to watch five linemen at one time run an inside drill, so you have to focus on one or two [players at a time]," Campbell said. "When it's one-on-one, you can focus on just those two, out on an island. You get to see the best man win the drill."

In the evening, Campbell and personnel officials will chat with players at the team hotel.

Really, the Senior Bowl is another "piece of the puzzle" as Redskins officials continue to add to their files on prospects, Campbell said.

They will get another chance to evaluate prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine next month, as well as during Pro Days and player visits to team facilities.

"The school visit is the first step, and then the film evaluation, and then practice," Campbell said. "You can see how competitive the kids are and the systems they can pick up. It's something that just builds into the file and resume of the player.

"Typically, the rule in scouting is that a player [at the Senior Bowl] can really help himself and move up the board more than hurt themselves if they don't do well. A lot of these kids haven't done anything since their season ended. Secondly, they are in a different system, so you can't discredit a kid if he plays poorly.

"But if a kid comes in and he does really well, then you have to take it as just a piece of the puzzle. It's not like the defining thing that makes or breaks a kid."

How important is the Senior Bowl?

In 2008, the Senior Bowl produced 11 first-round draft picks and 82 of the100 participants from last year's game were drafted into the NFL.

So there's a good chance that the Redskins' top pick, at No. 13 overall, will be playing in Saturday's game in Alabama.

The Redskins got a close-up look at tight end Fred Davis, offensive lineman Chad Rinehart, quarterback Colt Brennan and punter Durant Brooks at last year's Senior Bowl.

Davis was a second-round pick by the Redskins, Rinehart was a third-round pick and Brennan and Brooks were sixth-round picks.

In 2005, all six of the Redskins' draft picks--including first-rounders Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell, both starters--were Senior Bowl participants. So was 2004 third-round pick Chris Cooley.

Senior Bowl practices continue through the week and culminate in the game, broadcast by the NFL Network starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Most NFL talent evaluators skip the game, though, because they get most of their information from practices.

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