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Transcript: Allen and Campbell pre-draft press conference

May 6, 2014, 5:43 PM EST

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Transcript via Redskins PR:

Executive Vice President/General Manager Bruce Allen

and Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell

Opening statement:

ALLEN: “Good morning, everyone. Part of today’s press briefing, we want you to know we have several hundred of our Redskin fans who are listening from home or at work to this press conference. We think it’s a new idea of a way to keep our fans involved and it’s my understanding that they’re going to be able to ask some questions… I’m not great on the technology, but they’re listening to us. Today we’re going to try to inform you on where we’re at today. We’re going to do our best job not to lie to anybody today [laughter]… If we mislead 31 other teams than it’s successful. With that, our draft process has been over the last few weeks somewhat intense, but I think with this extra time it sort of feels a little awkward because Scott and his group have been ready to go for some time. It’s allowed us to maybe do some double and tripling and quadruple checking of the talent, but I feel comfortable that Scott and his group have done a great job and have been able to inform all the coaches and other people on any questions we might have. Obviously the coaches have been involved in all the scouting meetings and we’re ready to go. With that, let’s try some questions.”

On Campbell having a more visible role through this process than in the past:

CAMPBELL: “I’m not real comfortable with that. It’s really not my style. I’m really a behind the scenes [guy]… and really a lot of people have asked me how things have changed through my time here, the 13 years I’ve served as a college director, a personnel director, and now overseeing the whole department. In preparations for the draft, my role has really been the same it’s been in terms of preparation. A lot of people don’t realize we start three weeks after the draft, my preparation begins for the next draft when I attend the BLESTO meetings and then on through the summer and the fall. It’s a long year for us, and I prepare the same way I have since I’ve been here.”

On having a minicamp prior to the draft:

ALLEN: “I think it was great for us with the new coaching staff for them to be able to see the players that are coming back from the previous years. From the personnel standpoint, it was wonderful to see the new players performing in the burgundy and gold. As far as the draft, it really doesn’t do anything to the draft. Scott didn’t change any of his grades on the players who are in this upcoming draft based on what happened in our minicamp. They’ll have the same grades. It was very effective. I think it’s a great rule in the NFL that a new head coach gets that bonus minicamp, and for us, with the draft moving back as they did for a couple weeks, it allowed us to fit it in easier before the draft.”

On the most important position to address:

ALLEN: “The draft is going to be a great way to add to the team. We’ve been active in free agency, so we feel there’s no gaping holes on the roster, but as we look at our team, we really look at where our roster is in 2015 and 2016 as well. It allows us the flexibility to make sure that we follow the draft board that’s been set up with everyone’s communication, so we’re not looking at a particular position as we address the draft.”

On how the players in this draft stack up to previous drafts:

CAMPBELL: “Well, I think a lot’s been documented and written in terms of this draft and it’s quite true when you start studying and talking about the depth of the draft. People have asked me which positions – obviously the receiver position jumps out in terms of  the depth and the quality not only at the top, there’s some premier guys at the very top, but I think on down through the whole draft, you’ve got quality players and not just at one specific position. I think it’s pretty good quality throughout. You certainly will feel good about the players you’re taking and the prospects there that will be there in the middle rounds.”

On if the team would like to acquire more picks:

ALLEN: “In theory, the answer is easily yes. Where we’re picking, and you can look at all the mock drafts that you want, I think the most mock drafts have probably the top 15 players that is all similar. When you get down to our neck of the woods, there’s great variation. If we have a player that has a first-round grade that falls to us, it will make us less likely to trade out of there. We have several players who have about the same grade on them and if that’s the case, and we get the opportunity, we would move.”

On the possibility of moving up:

ALLEN: “During the draft, and once again to follow up on the process, in the draft room, [Director of Pro Personnel] Morocco Brown and [Vice President of Football Administration] Eric Schaffer are involved in checking the temperature of other teams to see what trade possibilities are available. We’ll listen. I can’t imagine that there aren’t going to be other teams that have more picks that are going to be trying to get into the bottom of that first round than we have. So I think it’s unlikely, but we’ll listen to other people’s offers.”

On redefining characteristics Allen looks for in players and what he’s looking for in general:

ALLEN: “Where we were at at the end of year was well-documented, disappointing. What we’re looking for is people who love football and want to play football and want to win with the Washington Redskins. Whether it was in free agency or this draft, we’ve done a very good job, we feel, of digging into the heart and soul of the prospects. In free agency we feel good about it, and we’re hoping to add to this team through the draft with some other very hungry football players.”

On taking a less talented player over a more talented player if he has a “fire in his belly”:

ALLEN: “I think the ‘fire in the belly’ was for the head coach, mostly… We hope not. Scott can probably address it better, but the grade that a player has on him, his final grade, takes into consideration all of his physical talents and the desire that we feel that he has to play.”

On how Campbell builds his calendar and decides which prospects to visit during the season:

CAMPBELL: “Mainly, as I mentioned before, three weeks after the draft I’ll start getting ready for the next draft. That’s what the BLESTO service that we’re a part of, that’s where I’ll get scouting reports from our BLESTO service. From there, I pass it on to our area scouts that spend the summer with the names. I don’t give them the reports with the grades, but they will formulate our own grades from that list. My goal is to try to see the top 150 players in the country every year. That’s coast to coast, so I’m traveling over the top of these guys based off of our scouts combined with the BLESTO reports. Then, in terms of how I do the scheduling, it’s really a lot based off of school restrictions only letting you in certain times of the year. I’ll try to match those restrictions up with certain games that I want to see. I’m basically a ghost here at Redskins Park from the middle of August to after Thanksgiving.”

On if the team will bring back previously suspended safety Tanard Jackson now that he is expected to be reinstated by the league:

ALLEN: “He’s been conditionally reinstated by the NFL. Later today, he’ll be taking his physical exam. If he meets all of those conditions that the NFL has laid out for him, and after meeting with him, we might give him a chance, yes.”

On how Jackson’s reinstatement will affect how the team looks at safeties in this year’s draft:

ALLEN: “No, it won’t affect the draft at all. When he was suspended, we understood he had to comply with a lot of rules and regulations that the league and the [NFL] Players Association have agreed to. I think it’s a compliment to him – I have not talked to him yet because he’s really not reinstated until later today – it’s a compliment that he still has a desire to play, so I look forward to talking to him and having the coaches talk to him.”

On assessing the team’s record of developing players and how they tell which players can be developed:

ALLEN: “I don’t think you can say we’ve done well because of our record. I don’t really believe in grading drafts because we have a record. The Washington Redskins have got a lot of hardware and flags up there not through the draft but through other means of player acquisition. We’re looking forward to changing that and developing our players. We still have some young players on our roster who haven’t really played yet and I think that’s a good task for the coaches who got to see them at this first minicamp and start to develop opinions on them.”

CAMPBELL: “In terms of trying to find players that are good developmental-type prospects, it’s something Bruce had mentioned before, what he was looking for in a football player – trying to find people that football is very important to them. You get that information through research, when you go through the campuses talking to the coaches, the trainers, the strength coaches. You find out what a guy’s work ethic is and how important football is to him. I think if you’ve got those two qualities, you’ve got an excellent chance to be developed. As opposed to a guy that doesn’t love the weight room, is late, doesn’t work, is overweight, never in shape when the season starts – those are flags to you on how important football is to that player.”

On what the team can do in this year’s draft to add to special teams:

ALLEN: In free agency, [Head Coach] Jay [Gruden], we looked at all of the free agents with that type of eye. I think some of the linebackers we signed was [because of] their special teams performance in the NFL. [Special Teams Coordinator] Ben [Kotwica] has been involved in all of the draft meetings and been able to evaluate all the special team-type players, meaning the receivers, running backs, defensive backs, linebackers who can make an impact on special teams. Once again, that information – their special team grade – goes into the final grade that Scott put on the players.”

On how much weight off-field issues carry in a prospect’s overall score:

CAMPBELL: “In terms of the scouting part of it, we really rely on the research we’ve done throughout the year with the scouts. The scouts are actually the frontline. They’re the guys with the boots on the ground doing the research. I’ve kind of designed a system where they just stay in their area. Some teams cross-check areas, go to different scout’s schools. Mainly, I just have my guys stay in their main area so they can go multiple times to a school because you can’t just swing through there in one day and pick up all the information you need. Obviously, when you’re researching through the staff, talking to everybody that you can, you find out a common thread about what makes up a player. Obviously, when you pick up a [paper], the way the media is today, you can find out when a guy gets arrested an hour after he gets arrested practically. We have that type of information that we can use to go back to the schools to find out [what happened]. Then, there’s also an opportunity in terms of the draft, we start the interview process at the all-star games and then at the Combine, and then we can also bring guys in as part of our 30 players we can bring in before the draft. By that time, you have a pretty good handle on the character of the prospect.”

On if the team feels it is coming off a 3-13 season or feels like it is in a better situation:

ALLEN: “Well, that’s a fact, what you said, so that’s where we’re at. I believe we’ve added to this football team. The fact that we don’t have a first-round draft choice is because we have a quarterback. As you can read or see around this league, the search for quarterbacks is always the premier position. We feel good about where we’re at with Robert [Griffin III], especially getting an offseason in this year and working with our new coaches. We feel comfortable that all three of our quarterbacks [Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy] can win a game for us.”

On how big of a role the Senior Bowl, the Combine and pro days play in the overall evaluation of players:

CAMPBELL: “All these things that are going on – the pro days, the Combine – they’re all parts of puzzle. They’re pieces of information that you add to confirm or maybe change your mind on certain players. I’ve always explained that the scouts do it differently than the coaches do because we go through the fall and scout these guys in person at practice and games, do the tape before they’ve done the pro days and the Combines. So, we’ve already formed some opinions on some players and then we start to gather the information – confirming this guy is fast, he’s not fast, he’s strong, he’s not strong as you get more information. But you don’t just go into the Combine and discover players there. I think you just you add it and cultivate it, and the pro days is the same thing.”

On if the team has received trade inquiries for quarterback Kirk Cousins:

ALLEN: “No, no conversations. As I said, we have three quarterbacks who can win for us and we’re happy to have Kirk on the team.”

On Allen saying previously he expected to have 20-25 new players on the roster this season and if that is reason for trepidation:

ALLEN: “No, I feel comfortable with that. When you change staffs in the NFL, that adds to the turnover. There’s new thoughts and new ideas and it’s a cleaner slate. Where we were at last year was based on a number of reasons. The talent that we brought in is talent that the personnel department wanted and the coaches wanted. I think if we can do well in this draft that having 25 new players is probably going to be a realistic accomplishment.”

On if the team pursued wide receiver DeSean Jackson because they would not have to pay the No. 2 overall pick:

ALLEN: “That didn’t factor in. Acquiring DeSean was just we saw a player we thought had rare talents and, unfortunately, we got to see those rare talents performed against us several times. He was just a good addition for our football team that we think can help us win games.”

On if Allen could pick one position where he could draft someone to help the team:

ALLEN: “Great angle to come from, but any time you do that and say that you have one position – and we’ve had this dialogue in our draft rooms, conversations – you’re an injury away from having a need. It’s very comfortable to say that we have three quarterbacks, but you’re one injury away from needing a quarterback and it applies to every position. So we feel we’re going to be able to follow the draft board and go with the highest ranked player that we have. Obviously there’s going to be some ties and then you’ll lean toward a position that you might not have depth on for 2015 or ’16.”

On if the team will take the best player available:

ALLEN: “We’re going to pick the player who has the best grade understanding, as Scott said, if you select a receiver in the second round, there might be another receiver in the third round, in the fourth round, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an NFL team draft seven rounds of the same position.”

On integrating a new coaching staff into the scouting process:

CAMPBELL: “I think the biggest thing [is] you start to get a feel for what a new staff – particularly the head coach, the coordinators – what they like, what their systems are, what players fit their systems, what they’re looking for, and you gather that informally just talking to them in their offices. But you really find out, I found, through the draft meeting process and the free agency meeting process. When you’re actually together in the room as a group and you’re expressing your feelings about the players and they’re expressing their feelings, over and over and over, through time [those] relationships develop and you start to understand what’s important to Jay, to Sean [McVay] and Jim [Haslett]. It takes a little bit of time, but I think through the meeting process, you really get to zero in on what’s important to them.”

On the recovery timetable for defensive end Stephen Bowen:

ALLEN: “The timetable hasn’t changed. We’re going to have a better feel probably later in June, but he is progressing well. He’s done everything that the doctors wanted him to do at this point in time and he’s here every day working his butt off.”

On how Campbell evaluates defensive ends transitioning to outside linebacker:

CAMPBELL: “You factor some of that stuff in, but the most important part of converting a defensive end to outside backer or the outside backers that are already in a 3-4, the No. 1 priority [is] can they rush the passer? How athletic are they? From there, how strong are they against the run? And then probably third is how they are in coverage. You’ve been watching us, you’ve been watching the games – it’s limited in what the outside backers’ responsibilities are compared to the inside backers. That’s kind of how I rank the importance of each part of evaluating that position.”

On how clear cut the “best player available” approach is on draft day:

ALLEN: “Well, the arguments have really taken place already, although we were in a good debate with Jay, Scott, myself, yesterday, and trying to stack people. You can have several players and I’ll just say with a ‘B’ grade and they all have a ‘B’ grade but now you have to stack the ‘B’ players. All of the position coaches are great agents for their position and they’ll come around and – [Defensive Backs Coach] Raheem Morris is famous for campaigning and he might put a bumper sticker on my car in the morning and things like that. But really the debates have already taken place. It’ll be somebody once Scott has already stacked them on top of it of what player at that time fits us.”

On if Campbell’s voice in the draft process has changed with the new coaching staff:

CAMPBELL: “I think it inspires the scouts and that’s exactly what you want – to be involved in the process. It’s not just about me. It’s about all the scouts getting together, us building a consensus Redskins grade at the very end along with when Jay gets involved and the coaches that we all feel good in the room that’s all come together and we’ve got that final Redskin grade and a player that we can be happy with.”

On how the change in coaching staff affected Campbell’s approach with players he scouted last season:

CAMPBELL: “To be honest with you, not very much. Having spent 27 years in the NFL and having a father that traveled around the country from stop to stop, one thing I’ve learned is you’ve got to evaluate the player and get all the information so that if something changes in your scheme for instance, if you go from a 4-3 to a 3-4, I have no control over that. You don’t want to say ‘Oh my gosh, I wasn’t even looking at 4-3 players.’ You evaluate all the players. You have all the information on them in terms of their pluses, their minuses, where they potentially could fit so that the adjustment would not be very hard at the end.”

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