Monday, August 31, 2015

What pre-draft visits mean in the NFL Draft scouting process

A popular exercise this time of year is to try to find out which draft prospect visited which team, and connect those dots on draft day. Each NFL team gets to host 30 non-local players, so clearly, there is merit in those visits. Add in private workouts on campuses, and it’s easy to use a visit/workout to indicate interest.

What pre-draft visits mean in the NFL Draft scouting process

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Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. (Michael Perez/AP)
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. (Michael Perez/AP)

A popular exercise this time of year is to try to find out which draft prospect visited which team, and connect those dots on draft day. Each NFL team gets to host 30 non-local players, so clearly, there is merit in those visits. Add in private workouts on campuses, and it’s easy to use a visit/workout to indicate interest.

However, it’s not often an indicator of a draft pick. In fact, one thing you’re bound to hear this weekend is surprise from a player about being picked by a team that he has not heard from since February’s combine or at the Senior Bowl, other than the cursory call to confirm a draft weekend phone number.

“Some of those guys we met at Indy. And some of those guys we sat down at the Senior Bowl and we just went, ‘Good kid. No problem. No injury concerns. We’re good’,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “We know what they are. Maybe we went to the school in the fall. We know all about them. Let’s spend time with another guy.”

In fact, a pre-draft visit or workout can mean there’s a concern about a prospect. If there’s a red flag for character or medical or fit, the team wants more information. Pre-draft visits, then, could indicate a reason for a lack of interest as much as it could signal interest.

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“Sometimes we bring in a guy here because we’re going: ‘We think he really doesn’t fit with us, but let’s make sure. Let’s just make sure two years from now we’re not saying we were too hard on the guy’,” Roseman said. “Sometimes we bring a guy in here because the medical’s an issue with the way we practice and play so we want our doctors to get their hands on them and just really feel confident about it.”

Plus, the Eagles know pre-draft visits tend to leak out to reporters. They know there’s an appetite for information. And misdirection can be a good thing when trying to prepare for the draft.

“Sometimes,” Roseman said, “we just like to mess with you.”

 zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

Inquirer Staff Writer
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