INDIANAPOLIS — The 2017 Combine has arrived, with coaches, general managers, scouts, media, and league personnel all descending on the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium for one of the NFL's marquee offseason events.
While Sean McVay has been to his share of Combines, this year marks his first as a head coach. Speaking to the media Thursday morning, McVay said his obligations in 2017 aren't too different from what they've been in the past as Washington's offensive coordinator.
"You know, really, this is the only thing that's different, in terms of the coordinator approach," McVay said, referring to speaking with the media. "And then I'll be here the entire week with the defense."
The Combine is, of course, one of the crucial checkpoints for incoming rookies because it gives teams a chance to get to know them not only through their on-field drills, but also through medical evaluations and in-person interviews. With McVay working to assemble his staff and get acquainted with Los Angeles' current roster, the head coach said he's relied on Snead to help get him up to speed on this year's talent crop.
"That's why it's been beneficial to have Les be able to kind of give me a jump start on, what are our needs? And then is this something we feel we might be able to address in the draft or in free agency?" McVay said. "Because just like in both, there are certain positions where there's a little more depth in free agency, certain positions where there's a little more depth in the draft. And being able to use those two ways of acquiring players to improve is going to be really important for us."
Player acquisition is an area in which a strong working relationship between head coach and GM is key. While it's only been a few weeks, McVay and Snead have begun to develop good chemistry. It's something that even goes back to the interview process, where both men have said they discovered comfort in merging their individual plans for developing a winning franchise.
"Les and I's relationship has been very good so far," McVay said. "We've been in communication every single day, constantly talking about situations, scenarios, how we evaluate our players, what we're trying to do to find players that fit our offensive and defensive schemes. And [I] really feel fortunate to work with him and looking forward for this partnership for a long time."
"I think philosophically we think very, very similarly," Snead said Thursday. "But like anything, when you have a partner in fantasy football and you're trying to decide who to insert in fantasy football, you may have a different running back or receiver than you're buddy. But I think all of those things work together."
As with any new partnership, Snead and McVay are stressing the need for open communication.
"It's evolving, but we're making it a priority to go, 'These are the type of decisions we're going to have to make.' Not just personnel, but how you lead, the vision of each part," Snead said. "All of those things — we're sitting down right now and merging our philosophies. And through that, we're finding that we think alike. You found that out during the interview process, as well."
As the offseason progresses, it becomes even more important for Snead and McVay to remain in lockstep, as there are important decisions to be made across the board when it comes to personnel. That starts with free agency next week, but goes into the draft and beyond, as teams pick up undrafted free agents or even veterans who had yet to latch on with a team through the early goings of the offseason program.
"These four weeks are really special in terms of, you go in and you're digging through your roster, free agency, and now the draft," Snead said. "So you're really working together — not only with Sean, but his staff trying to figure out what they're trying to do in there schemes, what they're type player fits that scheme, how do our players fit? Who's available in free agency? Who's available in the draft to help? And those moments start early and go late, and that where you really get that synergy."
"The thing you feel great about with Les being where it's a new staff coming in, he's got a jump on kind of what the draft has available, where there's depth at certain positions that we need to address," McVay said. "And that's going to dictate what we do in free agency, maybe we're able to address a certain need in the draft because there is a little more depth at a certain spot. So we expect to acquire some good players both through free agency and the draft and it's something we're looking forward to."