A group headed by director of player personnel Nick Caserio, director of college scout Jon Robinson and quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien helped the Eagles staff run the show, which was far less of a “show” than it has been the last few years with no one approximating Matt Ryan or Mathias Kiwanuka or B.J. Raji going through the paces. But for personnel people, it’s worth the trip for a variety reasons, big names being there or not.
“You know what you’re looking for, and a lot of the drills, we’ve done them multiple times,” Caserio told me as things wrapped up. “So whether you go somewhere else or it’s these players, you do them to see how they perform and how they take the instruction. It’s good for us, because when we’re doing the drill, we can see how they’re doing the drill, relative to the rest of the competition.”
The truth is that as much is made of combine numbers these days, this is simply the final piece of the process for the college kids. And so with their files full of game tape and, by now, a compilation of post-college work, the goal here is to complete the evaluation.
“I’d say 80, 90 percent of it is done,” Caserio said. “You’ve had the fall evaluation. Some have gone to an all-star game, so you’ve had the opportunity there. Some have gone to the combine, some haven’t, so this is kind of the last piece of their puzzle, and from there, you’re kind of processing all the information. And hopefully you have a snapshot – ‘OK, here’s what the player is, based on all the information with his track record’.”
After Pro Day, the college kids aren’t quite done yet.
There are private workouts (we touched on those today) and, for the higher level prospect, in-house visits with teams left. But those often are more about figuring out the person, rather than the player.
“You get him in a more isolated setting and it’s more 1-on-1 and it’s you and the kid for two or three hour,” Caserio said.” You spend time with them, you’re around them, you watch tape with them, and you do some on-field work. After that experience, you have a pretty good grasp of whether or not he’ll fit into your club, and whether he’ll be able to handle the things that we do. I think there’s benefit to us and other teams that do it, I’m sure they feel the same way.”
And while the tape can show you a lot, there’s something to seeing a kid with your own eyes that’s irreplaceable as well — “There’s always benefit when you see a guy,” Caserio said. “You might see him on tape and say, ‘OK, I think he’s this tall.’ And then you see it up close. When you’re on the field – and you can see the level of quickness on tape – but when you see it live, it either verifies or refutes what you saw on tape. So any time you can get hands on like this, and be right in front of them, it helps.”
As Caserio was saying this, he’d returned from Rutgers Pro Day on Wednesday, and was headed out again for another tomorrow.
It’s taxing, sure. But worth it in the end.
“This is a fun time of year,” Caserio said. “You go different places, and there’s travel involved, but that’s part of the process. I enjoy it, I know a lot of people enjoy it, and you get a lot out of it. You get as much out of it as you want to. You just try to make sure you don’t miss any flights and get home, get a few winks and you’re on to the next day.”