As I've said several times this week, the practices leading up to Sunday's 2011 East-West Shine Game are just as important as the game itself, if not more important. During the practices team scouts and personnel executives can observe an individual's technique and form. Additionally, teams have the opportunity to meet up with players and talk about whatever it is they talk about during these sessions.
The folks from Big Cat Country (our Jaguars blog) have a few sets of eyes and ears on the ground in Orlando and they'll be providing updates over the rest of the week. Additionally, they were able to figure out which scouts were meeting with which players. Yesterday the 49ers reportedly met with Indiana wide receiver Terrance Turner. I've often wondered how these meetings are arranged and what exactly is said during many of them. Is there a time during the day when players just sort of stand around like on Super Bowl Media Day? Or is there a chaperone for the players who connects players with teams? Or is it the agents of the players setting things up? And if a scout has been particularly excited about a player, how does he not come off as kind of creepy ("I've been watching you for moooonths")?
NFL teams meet with a whole host of players every year and generally don't draft many of them. After having scouted players for months if not years, the face-to-face meeting gives teams a bit of a chance to learn more about the player. Job interviews in general can often simply be about how the person deals with authority or how they interact with others. The resume shows what they can do. The interview is to take things a step further. Scouts know what Terrance Turner can and can't do, and they'll learn plenty more during workout and/or combine drills in the next month. However, the interview gives them a chance to maybe see what's going on upstairs for a player.
I did a quick search on Terrance Turner and his practices thus far haven't gone too well.
Wed: Lacks any quickness or speed. Can't get off the line and shows no burst. To his credit, he continues to work hard.
Indiana's Terrance Turner has struggled in drills, whether getting his hands up, turning his head around, or simply snatching the ball with his hands.
Turner dropped several balls in individual drills because he was slow to turn his head off his break and get his hands up. In one-on-one drills, he struggled against man coverage because he wasn't physical enough at the point of attack. He seemed to get frustrated easily and was unable to refocus after mistakes.
I think you all get the point. Turner is ranked 71st among wide receivers by Scouts Inc. Here are his career numbers:
Turner hasn't impressed at the Shrine Game, but there is some reason the 49ers have elected to interview him. I don't see why a team would just randomly pick a player to interview. There is some reason for it, but obviously I don't know that reason. One possibility is the team will put together a list of players they'll be looking to sign as undrafted free agents. There is a race to sign UDFAs after the draft (although I'm not sure how the CBA issues affect those signings), so having as much information at hand is essential. Maybe the team figures he might be worth a flyer at that point.
Even though the 49ers will not draft many of the players they interview, we'll still do our best to keep track of as many of these interviews as possible. If the NFL Draft is a big puzzle, these interviews are one small piece of that puzzle.