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Combine still holds value to Rams coaches and personnel staff

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – If you're watching NFL Combine drills on your TV or mobile device, you're probably taking in the event the same way most members of the Rams' coaching staff and personnel departments are, too.

With another offseason of turnover on the coaching staff, another combine week will be spent in Los Angeles rather than Indianapolis for several Rams decision-makers.

But that doesn't mean they don't value the combine, or have a presence there.

"Because we've had so much turnover, so much of this last handful of weeks have been spent making sure that you're not rushing the process of getting the right coaches on board," Rams head coach Sean McVay said last week. "And then you say, okay, part of it is location, traveling to Indy and back. We have such trust in our scouting staff with the vetting and the background they've done.

"There's value in it, so I don't want it to be misunderstood that there's not, but if you said we're able to stay back, stay at home, really dive into the film and the tape, which ends up being the best indicator for how we evaluate these players – we just felt like it was more efficiently utilized in terms of our time, staying back. A lot of this stuff is filmed, and so you can get that, and shoot, NFL Network does such a good job covering it, you flip it on and you feel like you might as well be on the field with some of these drills."

General manager Les Snead said Wednesday they have a "less traditional footprint" in Indianapolis, but do still value the combine. There are some people on the ground with "specific missions." The day after a subset of a position group works out, Snead can come in the next day and read an evaluation in our systems based on what Rams scouts thought the player did in the workout portion. Director of Data and Analytics Jake Temme and Scouting Strategist Nicole Blake then "blend up the analytics" on where a player scored in terms of their 40-yard dash time, vertical jump and other drills.

Expanding further on that philosophy during an appearance on the NFL Report with NFL Network's Steve Wyche and James Palmer, Snead also shed some light on the strategic advantages that come with their approach.

By Friday, Snead and his staff will have all the film from all of the non-football drills. The analytics department will then synthesize the data collected from there – as he mentioned talking about Temme and Blake.

Snead also pointed to the benefit of interviewing prospects outside of the structure of the combine, and how that allows them to thoroughly digest the vetting they've done on a prospect.

"We may miss out on it (the in-person interviews with prospects) this week," Snead told Wyche and Palmer. "But it is, in terms of – 18 minutes, we've done a lot of research, again, our paradigm's different. We feel like, okay, maybe instead of being there just to get 18 minutes with 48 players, it's better served to be here doing some other things. ... We value it well, we just think it's better for us then to sit down with that player somewhere else, somewhere where we have more than just 18 minutes, and somewhere also where the player – let's just say this, a player could have 10 interviews in one night. That's pretty exhausting. So we're able now to maybe go visit that player on his setting, sit down with him for definitely more than 18 minutes, usually it's up to somewhere between 3 and 4 hours, and get to know that person there."

Beyond that, Snead also told Wyche and Palmer that approach helps the Rams keep an under-the-radar profile to avoid the prospects they've met with becoming public knowledge to the rest of the league's 31 teams.

And to McVay's earlier point about onboarding coaches the right way, that includes getting aligned on plans for the draft – and those meetings got underway this week.

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