Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew addressed the media at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine earlier today. Here are some of the top takeaways from his press conference.
-- Mayhew opened things up by discussing the changes the Combine has made over the years to help the prospects perform at their best. For example, the 40-yard dashes and the bench presses will be held on separate days this year, which will hopefully encourage prospects to participate in both drills.
"Those kinds of things allow the players to perform at their absolute best, which is what we want and what the players and their agents want as well."
-- Like head coach Ron Rivera, Mayhew was asked about Sam Howell and his thoughts on how the quarterback has grown in a year. The team has already proclaimed that Howell will enter the offseason workout program as the starting quarterback but will still have to earn the job for the regular season by competing with a veteran. Mayhew echoed those sentiments and added that he was "very impressed" with the way Howell practiced throughout the season. His first start was a small sample size, but it was enough for Mayhew and the team to feel comfortable about seeing what else Howell can accomplish.
"Sam will have every opportunity to win that starting job," Mayhew said. "He has the skills that it takes to be a starter in this league, in my opinion."
-- On that note, Mayhew also said that Howell benefitted from sitting being Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke to work on his skill set, adding that rushing young quarterbacks out onto the field is "one of the things as a league where we really have failed."
"And the reason for that, I believe, is because the bad teams get to pick first. They pick a very talented quarterback. Sometimes their team is not that talented then they have that immediate pressure to put that player on the field and so many guys have failed for that reason."
-- It has been over 30 years since Mayhew participated in the Combine as a player, but he believes things have changed for the better. The interview process is the biggest example of that. Teams go through more effort to get to know prospects, and the phycological testing that players go through is "a lot more sophisticated."
"It hasn't changed dramatically in terms of the goals, but the method to get to those answers has changed a lot and it's a lot more efficient."
-- Mayhew's press conference was the first time that the general manager had the opportunity to publicly address the hiring of Eric Bieniemy, and he said he "couldn't be happier to have him." Mayhew, Bieniemy and Rivera are still going to through their evaluations of the offense and learning what Bieniemy wants at each position.
"We lean on those guys a lot. Eric will be very involved in the process. We definitely lean on him and [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] as coordinators to know what they want as far as skillset set and what they look for in certain players. So, Eric will be very involved in that."
-- Mayhew does not normally go into detail about the team's evaluation of draft prospects, and that was the case this year as well. He did, however, say that this year's tight end class is "really good." He is not the only person to say that, either, as many analysts believe this is the best group of players the position has had in recent memory.
Perhaps Washington will take a player from that pool in April, but Mayhew praised the tight ends they currently have on the roster.
"I think Logan Thomas has been a very good player for us in the past. As you know, Cole Turner had one of the best offseasons that I've seen a young tight end have and then he got injured in training camp and suffered some soft tissue injuries during the season. We didn't see fully what Cole is capable of doing. And then Armani Rogers, also as an undrafted free agent, a guy who moved to tight end last year really showed some very intriguing flashes. Obviously, John Bates is a very complete guy as a blocker and as a receiver. Then we've got Curtis Hodges who was on the Injured Reserve last year. We didn't activate him, but he is very, very talented. We've got a nice group of young pups out there that look pretty good."