Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Commanders’ Ron Rivera in his element at NFL scouting combine

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It’s part of the sport — moments such because the temporary interplay he had with Joe Burrow and Chase Young at the 2020 combine, or the quick conversations he has had over time that give him perception into how a prospect thinks — that Rivera values greater than most.

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At an occasion that’s deliberate and rehearsed by each actor concerned, Rivera craves improvisation: pure reactions, offhand conversations, mild ribbing with gamers in the hallways.

So far, Rivera’s journey has been greater than fruitful. The Commanders’ evenings have been full of interviews. The formal ones can final so long as 18 minutes.

“There’s been some really good ones,” Rivera beamed. “There really have.”

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The Commanders usually present a set of performs from the prospect’s faculty profession on a giant display screen. Some are good. Others are ones the participant most likely wish to overlook.

The intent is to illicit a response and create questions: Why did you do this right here? What occurred on this play? What was presupposed to occur right here?

“What’s really cool is you can watch some of them light up on a play, and sometimes the guy will react because it was a bad play and he knows it,” Rivera mentioned. “ ‘You picked that one? Out of all the plays, you picked that one?’ You’re listening for whether the guy is willing to take responsibility, or does he throw somebody under the bus?”

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His Burrow and Young second this yr got here in an opportunity assembly with linebackers Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker, who had been teammates at Georgia. Walker jokingly claimed that he doesn’t play as stiff as Thomas Davis, a Georgia alum who performed for Rivera with Carolina and Washington. Rivera laughed and shared the story with Davis when he noticed him later in the day.

“It was that moment away from everybody where they don’t have to put on the airs,” Rivera mentioned. “They can let their hair down a little bit and be themselves. And it was kind of neat, you know, like with Joe Burrow. I saw an air of confidence — not conceit, but confidence. Same thing with Chase. These guys want to be the best.”

Rivera has mentioned he seeks gamers who love the sport as a result of solely they are going to be actually dedicated. He believes he can gauge a participant’s ardour for the sport even in temporary interviews — corresponding to one the Commanders had with Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.

“Malik wanted to stand up when we put on the tape and look and point,” Rivera mentioned. “You could see how animated he got: ‘Watch me use my eyes, watch me use my eyes!’

“Even though he’s raw, you know he understands the concepts. And when I saw that, it reminded me of Cam Newton because that’s one thing — Cam understood the concepts. And that’s what you want. I could say the same thing about [Pittsburgh’s] Kenny Pickett and [Cincinnati’s Desmond] Ridder and all the quarterbacks, really.”

At the combine, the main target tends to gravitate to the quarterbacks. For Rivera, that has been the case for greater than 4 years, relationship from the top of his tenure with Carolina.

The turnover and perpetual seek for continuity at the place have created some frustration, Rivera admitted. But the drive to search out “The Guy” hasn’t waned.

“We don’t have that piece,” he mentioned. “So we’re trying to find it. We’re working hard to find it.”

The Commanders plan to be aggressive. General Manager Martin Mayhew and senior vice chairman of soccer administration Rob Rogers have spent ample time with brokers of Washington gamers who quickly will probably be free brokers. Executive vice chairman Marty Hurney and senior director of participant personnel Eric Stokes have led the analysis of the incoming rookies. The workforce additionally has employed outdoors consulting corporations for neutral evaluations of gamers.

But no roster addition can have extra of an affect than a quarterback. Rivera mentioned he would like a veteran — “If you can get one, absolutely,” he mentioned — and in keeping with one individual with direct data of the workforce’s plans, the Commanders have made at least one aggressive supply to attempt to purchase one.

“We’ve looked at the potential for trades,” he mentioned. “We’ve also looked at the potential for free agency, and there are some guys to like — there really are.”

Yet Rivera was fast to notice that he’s “not afraid to play a rookie.”

“I’ve played a rookie before,” he mentioned. “We’ve just got to make sure he’s ready, and we just got to make sure we’re ready.”

Rivera has cited Washington’s improved offensive line and dynamic working backs as integral constructing blocks, and his hope is to get the protection enjoying at the extent it did in 2020 and in the closing stretch of 2021. He additionally wants his prime playmakers, together with tight finish Logan Thomas and extensive receiver Curtis Samuel, to get wholesome.

“When I first went to Carolina, I said, ‘I want to be able to protect the quarterback and put playmakers around him,’ ” Rivera mentioned Thursday. “That’s what I believe we’ve done, so you feel good about those things.”

Then Rivera regarded as much as discover former linebacker Luke Kuechly extending his hand. The coach obtained to his toes, gave his former participant a agency hug, then slowly moved again by the lodge towards Lucas Oil Stadium. The quarterback prospects can be throwing quickly.

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