Wednesday, September 3: Talking Cuts With Scott Campbell

I’ve spoken to Scott Campbell, director of player personnel, before. His position means that he’s essentially responsible for preparing the team for all aspects of player acquisition, from the pro and college level, and I had found him to be candid and straightforward in the face of some difficult inquiries. so when I had some questions about the recent roster cuts — several of them raised by commenters and emailers — he seemed like a good person to talk to.

Scott Campbell, director of player personnel.

Scott Campbell, director of player personnel.


All right, talk me through the process of the cuts.

We started meeting the day after the Jacksonville game, the entire coaching staff, [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Vinny [Cerrato], myself, [Director of Pro Personnel] Morocco [Brown], [Vice President of Football Administration] Eric Shaffer was in there as well. And basically just as a staff, we worked through each position and decided how many to keep, and the cons and pros of each guy, and why we should go maybe more one position than the other.

How does it work in the room? Do different people champion different guys or positions, or is it all just consensus building?

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Your Questions for Scott Campbell, Part 2

Your questions, continued. This is where you all got a little feistier. And be sure to read Part 1 as well.

Can you bring someone in to compete with Shuan Suisham? Have you considered AJ Haglund for the San Jose Sabercats of the AFL?

The tough thing with a kicker is that there’s only so much space. Bringing in competition takes up a roster spot that you could use for depth in practice to save your veterans. It’s a coaching decision, and we feel good about the kicking situation right now and didn’t feel there was a need. But that’s really more the coaching staff.

As far as the second part, in our pro department, we’ve got scouts assigned to the AFL and to the Canadian league. We’ve gotten some players from the CFL, like Chris Wilson, and we brought Mike Sellers back. It’s part of pro personnel to scout all the other pro leagues.

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I’m going to read the first part of this one pretty much as written: “Why are the Skins so disastrously stupid when it comes to evaluating pro personnel? How do you get promoted when you evaluated guys like” Brandon Lloyd, TJ Duckett, or Adam Archuleta?

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Your Questions for Scott Campbell, Part 1

Over the course of this week, I’ve had the chance to watch practice with Scott Campbell, Director of Player Personnel, and I’ve talked to him about some of the team’s rookie players. I had put out a call for your questions, and you guys came through with enough that I’m splitting the results into two separate posts. All of the initial questions here are yours, although in some cases I’ve added my own follow-ups.

What at the time unknown player have you scouted and seen become a star?

Brett Favre. I was an area scout with the Falcons —

The team that drafted him.

Right, took him in the second round. We had Chris Miller as our starter and we were looking for a young QB to groom to be the next guy. Chris was a good QB — went to the Pro Bowl, in fact. So we were looking at young guys, and in the second round we were between Brett and Browning Nagle from Louisville. We ended up going with Brett.

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Watching Practice With Scott Campbell

The morning session starts with special teams practice, large groups of guys working on covering punts. It’s exactly the kind of thing that can be overwhelming if you try to take it all in, so I ask Scott what he watches during special teams practice.

Danny Smith observes special teams practice.

Danny Smith observes special teams practice.

“Right now, I focus on the punter that we drafted. I’m really focused in when they’re doing the punting drill, to see how he’s hitting the ball, and how Frost is hitting the ball. So I’m following that closely.”

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Scott Campbell on Matteral and Moneyball

Continuing our talk about the rookies and their performance Sunday night, what did you think of undrafted free agent CB Matteral Richardson?

He’s showed a lot of promise and good size. He made that interception at the end of the game, which caught some eyes.

Matteral Richardson

Matteral Richardson

Did you spot anything watching him that we might have missed?

His biggest learning curve, and I thought he did a pretty good job of managing it, is that he comes from a program that plays a lot of press technique, man-to-man coverage, and not a whole lot of off, or zone, coverage. When he’s playing off the receiver, not just jamming them on the line, he’s got to learn his technique, because he didn’t really do it a lot in Arkansas.

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Evaluating Rookies: Scott Campbell on Horton and Tryon

Lot of notes from talking to Scott, so I’ll put things up in shorter chunks. I asked for his evaluation of the rookies’ performances in the game against the Colts Sunday night. Here are some of his thoughts.

What did you think of the rookies as a whole on Sunday?

I was pleased. I think they all contributed. It’s tough to expect too much in the very beginning. You want to see the things you saw from them in college, you hope that they’re showing that, and for the most part most of those guys did.

Justin Tryon at practice today.

Justin Tryon at practice today.

How about Justin Tryon? He made some tackles and seemed to be around the ball, but also had that very conspicuous miscue with the penalty.

I think he showed his athletic ability, his quickness, his competitiveness, and his technique. That’s all part of the learning curve these guys go through. He’s had a very solid training camp up to this point, so I think that was just part of the learning process, and in the end, I think he’ll be a guy that can contribute for us.

What about Chris Horton? He had the two sacks, the onside kick recovery, that seems pretty strong.

The thing with a safety, when you blitz a guy, he’s not blocked and makes a tackle, that’s not super impressive. It’s a key play in the game, but in terms of evaluating talent … he’s supposed to make that. If he blitzes and MISSES a tackle, then you’re saying “Hmmm.”

Interesting.

But he was around the football, which is what you want safeties to be. Making plays, around the ball, tough, active, fearless hitter … and he showed all those things in his play.

To be fair, Jared Lorenzen outweighs him by more than 70 pounds, so it wasn’t a total gimme on that first sack.

No, it wasn’t. And you can see when he came in, he grabbed him and the QB didn’t go down like he was expecting him to. But he stayed and kept his grip on the guy, which was good. It looked like trying to tackle a fire hydrant, when it happened. It was pretty amusing.

Any Questions for Scott Campbell, Director of Player Personnel?

So far, as I meet people at Redskins park, I’ve focused on the guys who equip the players and the guys who film the players. Today, I was able to spend some time with one of the guys who helps to get the players here in the first place. I spent much of this morning’s practice with Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell, trying to see the guys — especially the rookies — through his eyes. I’ll have details on that up a little later.

I’ll start now with two things. First, a call for questions. If you have anything you’d like me to ask Scott while I’ve got some time with, drop me an email sometime today. I’ll put through as many as I can. And second, I asked Scott a couple of questions about his background and his job responsibilities, just to get things started.

Scott Campbell in his office.

Scott Campbell in his office.

Director of Player Personnel is one of those titles that a lot of people have heard, but I know that I, at least, have never been completely sure what the job entails.

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