The San Diego Chargers are hard at work evaluating over 300 prospects at the annual Scouting Combine.
A great deal of information steadily emanates out of Indianapolis each day, but perhaps the biggest news occurred earlier this week in America's Finest City.
The Chargers announced on Tuesday they are focusing their efforts downtown to build a multi-use stadium/convention center facility that would create an unparalleled entertainment and sports district in San Diego.
While President of Football Operations John Spanos is excited about the prospects in this year's draft class, it pales in comparison to his enthusiasm over the prospects for a downtown stadium.
"I think it is an incredible opportunity for not just the Chargers, but for the city of San Diego," he said. "Personally, I was really fired up when I heard that downtown was the location we are going to focus our efforts because I think there are amazing possibilities, opportunities and potential down there. So it's really exciting. Now, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. It won't be easy, but I think it can be done. I'm really looking forward to seeing it unfold."
The stadium announcement made waves throughout the NFL as Spanos explained many of his contemporaries are intrigued and encouraged by the team's efforts.
"You run into a lot of colleagues from around the league at the Combine, and a lot of people want updates on what's going on with the stadium. A lot of them say the same thing we've been saying, which is, 'Gosh, it would be great if the Chargers are able to get something done there. We really hope it works out for you.'"
While the stadium announcement was an important piece of news, it doesn't take away from how crucial this year's Combine is for the Chargers. They not only hold the third overall pick in the draft, but also possess a high selection in each round. Despite a rare top-five pick, Spanos says it is business as usual for the Bolts.
"Overall, it's been a very productive week so far. We've accomplished a lot, but still have more work to do. We have a few days left, but we're off to a great start. Even though we have a high pick, we still scout every player at every position because you never know what's going to happen. On draft day there may be certain trade opportunities, or a player may last longer than you thought they would. So our process hasn't really changed a whole lot."
Spanos and the scouts spend virtually every waking hour evaluating talent, from the on field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium to formal one-on-one interviews with the players at night. Teams are only allowed a set number of interviews, which often mark the first and only time coaches and scouts meet with a prospect prior to the draft.
"Those interviews are very important," Spanos said. "There are a lot of factors that go into who we decide to meet with. Going into the draft, we scout every position thoroughly. We're going to look at every player at every position, but you can only meet with so many of them. So if there is some information we want on a player's background or something we want to clarify, that might be a reason for him to be on the interview list. Sometimes it might be an underclassman that we simply don't have as much information on because he wasn't at an all-star game. There are a variety of reasons, and the benefit is we get to have a firsthand, up close look at the player. We get to know their personality, and learn personal details about him."
In addition to scouting each and every prospect, the Chargers are also busy meeting with their own pending free agents. General Manager Tom Telesco said the team would begin meeting with their agents this week, and Spanos is encouraged by those discussions.
"Those meetings have all gone well. As you know, we have a few of our own players set to become free agents. (Executive Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance) Ed McGuire is here, and he handles our salary cap. So we've met with a lot of our player's agents. We've had positive discussions, and that has been productive as well."