General Manager Tom Telesco has been a busy man down at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. In addition to evaluating top talent, Telesco is sitting down with each member of his scouting staff, getting to know them and using their insights to add to his vision for this team’s success. We caught up with him for an all-encompassing interview with topics ranging from the Senior Bowl to working with Head Coach Mike McCoy to what’s next on his agenda.
Here is what he had to say.
Chargers.com: So now that you’re a GM, how has this year’s Senior Bowl differed for you from previous seasons?
Telesco: The big thing is we’re still putting our assistant coaching staff together. Usually that’s something that’s already in place, so part of the work down here has been talking to coaches and going through the process of putting a staff together. So that’s been the first part of it. The second part is getting to know our scouting staff better in terms of how they grade, how they describe players, which types of players they like and even the areas they had this past fall. It’s all stuff I didn’t know because I was with the Colts. So this year it’s not only been about looking at the Senior Bowl talent and evaluating them, but it’s been a lot of getting to know our staff and also putting our coaching staff together. So it’s been a three pronged process down here, but we’ve gotten a lot of good work done.
Chargers.com: Speaking with John Spanos yesterday, he also emphasized how it was the first chance you’ve really had to meet with the scouts. Can you take us through the process of getting to know them and how you feel it went?
Telesco: It went great! We sat down, talked and went through the process of how it will be between now and April. I went through what my thoughts are, but really it was mostly about getting to know the guys. Where they’ve been? Who have they learned from? Who did they come up scouting wise from? Really it was getting to know them as people. That was probably the biggest thing. Then I just kind of explained to them my philosophies, things I’ve learned in the past and what we will keep doing moving forward. We will implement a lot more going into next year, but there are still some things we can do right now. There will be some changes here and there, but overall they were really good meetings. They were really productive.
Chargers.com: You mentioned the coaching staff earlier. What are your thoughts on how the staff is rounding out?
Telesco: We’re really excited about it. To get Ken Whisenhunt into the fold, he has a long, long career on the offensive side of the ball. He’s been very successful. He’s an experienced coach and is a great fit personality wise. Then adding people like Frank Reich who is really a natural quarterbacks coach, that’s exciting. He has an innate feel for the position. We had him in Indianapolis for a number of years and he coached some really good players. And he knew Ken well from Arizona. So the staff is coming together really well. We have some good continuity on the defensive side with John Pagano and Joe Barry and Don Johnson. That’s going to help too because we have some good young core guys on defense that will help us moving forward. So the fact that we’re not making major changes to the defensive coaching staff will help some of those young players moving forward.
Chargers.com: Coach has been busy forming his staff. A lot of people have been asking if you will make any changes to your scouting staff.
Telesco: Right now I don’t anticipate that. We’re moving forward with the people we have. There are some really talented people already here, so that’s our plan moving forward. Then we’ll see where we are after the draft. These guys are working really hard and are doing a good job. I went through this transition period last year from the other side, and I kind of explained what I went through with a new general manager coming in. Everyone has been on board, all in and wants to get to work. They’re adapting to a change here or there, but it’s been great so far.
Chargers.com: This has been your first chance to work with Coach McCoy. What has that been like?
Telesco: It’s been really, really good. First of all, it looks like he has an eye for talent and that is really great. It’s great to have a coach that can really identify talent and can explain really clearly what he is looking for in a player. The clearer the coach can be in letting us know what they look for at each position makes it easier for us to go find it for them. He knows what he wants and now it’s up to us to go out and find it. That’s what we’re doing right now. But the communication has been great the last week or so that we’ve been working together, and it will only get better from here.
Chargers.com: Talking about players, what has impressed you about the quality of the players down at the Senior Bowl this year?
Telesco: This is my first chance to see a lot of these guys, but I think both sides, the North and the South, have really good players. I’ve seen a lot of players that I’m really interested in. Some of these guys I saw in the fall, but there are some guys here that are really interesting players. Another good thing about being down here is that when these guys practice against each other, they are practicing against players that are going to be in the league. It’s a great evaluation tool. We’re seeing corners cover receivers that are legit NFL players. When you look at college tape, you never know. A corner could be covering a receiver that has no chance to play in the NFL. But in this game, the competition is so much better that it’s a great evaluation tool for all of them. So I’ve been very impressed. They also have incorporated some changes to the scouting process this year which has helped as well.
Chargers.com: When you get to sit down with the prospects one-on-one, what kind of information are you trying to get out of them?
Telesco: It’s twofold. One, you’re trying to get to know a little bit more about them off the field. You try to get a feel for them a little bit. The second part of it is their football intelligence. You talk a lot about the X’s and O’s of it and get a feel for what they know and don’t know football-wise. So those are the two big things. Now there are 32 teams down here doing the same thing, so you don’t get an extensive amount of time with the player, but you do get a good feel for him. So you try to make some evaluations off that.
Chargers.com: Finally, what is the next step for you? What will you be doing once you get back to the office after the Senior Bowl ends?
Telesco: When we get back it’s continuing to evaluate the team and see where we are. Now that we have a coaching staff, we’ll have a better feel for what we’ll be doing in all three phases. We’ll still be evaluating our players. We have free agency coming up so we’re going to work on that. We have some current free agents we’ve got to talk about. And obviously there are free agents from other teams whose contracts are expiring the second week in March. So we’ll be starting the process of pro scouting. And we’ll of course continue with our draft evaluations and watch a lot of tape. We just got the list of juniors who have declared for the draft, so that’s another big list of players we will have to work through. So those are the big things on the near agenda moving forward.