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In Evaluating Prospects, Intangibles Matter

Posted Jan 25, 2012

Chances are, some NFL hopefuls at the Senior Bowl this week have already removed themselves from the Redskins' draft board simply by not doing the little things the right way.


Dozens of NFL Draft prospects are in Mobile, Ala., this week for the Senior Bowl, hoping to showcase their athleticism on the field.

Chances are, some of them have already been eliminated from the Redskins’ draft board – at least in head coach Mike Shanahan’s eyes.

Why?

Could be he’s not accountable. Perhaps he doesn’t pay close attention in meetings. Or maybe he just doesn’t have passion for the game.

Shanahan and his assistants, coaches for the South squad this week, are keeping a close eye on intangibles, the little things that reveal the potential for greatness in a player.

After 27 years coaching in the NFL, Shanahan knows the type of player he wants on his team.

“He loves football, he’s on time, he’s positive, he enjoys practicing, and he enjoys doing the little things the right way,” Shanahan said. “[In the NFL], those types of players separate the good teams from the bad teams.”

When Shanahan first met with his squad earlier this week, he asked each of them to be “accountable” to the team and to each other.

Just an all-star game? Think again.

Said Shanahan: “I tell them, ‘If you have a meeting, be on time. People have evaluated your play during your college career, and they want to talk to you to see what you are like. They want to find out about your personality and see how responsible and passionate you are. They want to see how you prepare for games.

“As coaches, we get a chance to see them a little bit more [than the other 31 teams]. We have the chance to see how they prepare, so we have a little advantage there. For the most part, you just want to get to know the player.”

The Redskins already have a preliminary on-field grade for each player. They have watched prospects in person during the college football season and on film.

The Senior Bowl is the first chance that coaches and scouts can talk with players and get to know them on an individual basis.

“You get a chance to see them compete for a week, and you get a chance to see him in drills, 7-on-7, 11-on-11,” Shanahan said. “Some of these guys will be drafted very high so to see them compete at the same level is a big advantage.”

Shanahan noted that most of the South roster has shown great hustle in practice this week. It’s one of the “little things” that he looks for in evaluating a player.

“You have guys who understand they have an opportunity to improve themselves and impress everybody,” he said.