I got the chance to interview a handful of players throughout the week, with most of them coming on Senior Bowl Monday during “Media Night”. With a scouting-focused approach in mind (as opposed to a recording/media driven interview, which are also great resources too), I tried to glean as much as I could from these players as it relates to what they may become mentally and off-the-field in the NFL.
I got the chance to speak with David Fales, Logan Thomas, Jimmy Garoppolo, Charles Sims, Telvin Smith, and Pierre Desir most critically, and a handful of other players throughout the all-star process. Some of my notes are below.
-I came into the week with rumors about teams having concerns about David Fales competitive nature. Questioning a player's competitive drive is never an easy subject to broach, and keep in mind that it's sometimes a variable trait that can change based on circumstances. That being said, I did my best to pry out his true reasons for being at four schools in five years during his college career.
After signing on with Nevada out of high school, Fales said that Nevada was simply "not a good fit". He then went to junior college for a year at XXX. Then, he was offered a walk-on scholarship with Wyoming, which he refused (understandable). When a senior left the Wyoming program and a scholarship opened up, Fales took the offer. However, after just a week with the Wyoming program, Fales said he wasn't "in the best position to compete". His competition: true freshman Brett Smith. Leaving after simply a week with the program and feeling he "couldn't compete" with a true freshman did nothing to quell my concerns.
After that, I wanted to glean his leadership experience at San Jose State. While he said that his role was to help get guys to buy into the new head coach this year, he seemed to deflect leadership responsibilities and adversity early in the year, which further supports the rumors I had heard coming into the interview. I will say that my access to information is far more limited than NFL teams, so team’s may have different opinions than I. But I got the chance to interview Fales not for media purposes, ask some harder questions, and I came away unimpressed. I am just one evaluator, please keep that in mind, and it's not meant as a direct shot at Fales as a person.
-Logan Thomas was an unsurprisingly impressive individual to speak with. I’ve heard from people close to the Virginia Tech program that, if he didn’t want to play football, Thomas would highly sought after in the business world, already having a handful of standing offers. A well-spoken, conservative person, Thomas clearly is decisive in his words and is a quieter individual, which comes off as a leadership characteristic that “leads by example”.
He’s working with George Whitfield on his lead foot placement and control, which he and Whitfield believe is the root of all of his placement issues. While I think his concern is lacking velocity control as a throw, I’ll trust Whitfield knows what he’s talking about. He also said that he has zero interest in ever playing tight end in the NFL. He also said he’s expecting to run a 4.6 forty time.
-I spoke with Jimmy Garoppolo back in October when the hype-train started on him, and he impressed me back then with his confidence, football IQ, and focus. I caught up with him at the Senior Bowl to ask about the process now. I caught him at the offensive line table at dinner, which is a small yet noticeable trait of Garoppolo: he’s well-liked by all of his teammates. I asked him about the back to back weeks of new systems, he said “the reads are the sames, but the drops and the terminology is all different and a bit new to me.” That’s the biggest takeaway from Garoppolo on film: outside of smallish hands, his concerns are all coachable.
-Our own Alex Brown spoke with Charles Sims. Sims said that he wanted to transfer from Houston because he “didn’t want to play the Rice’s and Tulane’s” of the C-USA anymore. Transferring to West Virginia allowed him to play much better competition. Alex raved about his high football IQ throughout his discussions, and said, when asked about who he looks at in the NFL, that he compares himself to Matt Forte, a comparison many, including Optimum Scouting, have linked him to in the past.
-I only got the chance to talk to Telvin Smith of Florida State briefly, but got the chance to listen in on his recorded and non-recorded interviews as well. He started the week with his unusual weigh-in entrance. He walked up and got measured like everyone else before him, then strutted right on past the weigh-in station, seemingly oblivious to what he was supposed to do. After weighing-in (at a less than ideal 218 pounds), he raised his arms like a boxer after winning a fight, and moved off the stage. It seemed awfully strange entirely. In speaking with him, he told me that “I’ll get to 220 or so pounds just to look like I’m supposed to look.”I don’t think he has a great idea of what he needs to do in the NFL, as his lack of ideal weight and struggles in engaging blocks will push him down boards. Hopefully some of his mental and questionable occurrences that were raised throughout the week get answered during the Combine.
-Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir has been a great interview the past two weeks, at both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. A humble, reserved person, he comes from a background in raising his own family that has promoted a sense of focus and maturity that many don’t enter the league with. With his physical talents and coach-ability that he’s shown in these two weeks, he’s proven to be not a “raw” prospect, but a very “moldable” talent. Teams don’t need to worry about him being underdeveloped at this point, because he hasn’t received ideal coaching, and he’s developing the fundamentals now that he has legitimate pro coaching. If he can work through the draft process and run the 40 yard dash in the low 4.5s, he could earn a Day Two grade from many teams in the NFL.