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The Most Important Quality Whiz Looks for in a Prospect

Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is entering his 31st year in the NFL.

He's seen enough over the years to know what it takes to be a successful pro, which is why his knowledge and experience is so valuable for the Chargers at the Combine.

Everyone knows there is no foolproof plan or magic bullet when it comes to evaluating prospects. 

Every year there are picks teams nail and players they miss out on.

After all, how else can you explain Keenan Allen falling to the 76th pick in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, or players like Jahleel Addae and Tyrell Williams going completely undrafted?

Still, when you've been around the game as long as Whiz has, certain trends emerge as to which qualities directly correlate to successful careers.

As Whisenhunt stood in the scouting suite at Lucas Oil Field, watching quarterback and wide receiver prospects compete, he shared the most important traits he's looking for in a potential Charger.

"The first thing is that you want tough-minded guys on your team" he said.  "You want ones that always compete.  Now, it's hard to tell that just from a meeting, so I think the biggest thing you look for when you get around these guys is what is their love of football? How important is the game to them?  There are so many distractions when you get to this level that it basically boils down to how much you love the game and how much you want to put into it.  So that's a big part of it to me."

The Combine is as hectic a week as there is in the NFL, but it can be especially dizzying for coaching staffs. 

After all, they are really just getting to know hundreds of prospects while the scouts have spent thousands of hours over pouring every last detail. 

That's only natural since scouts spend an entire calendar year gearing up for the draft while coaches only start their evaluations once their season comes to an end.

So, what is the process like getting up to speed on all these potential draftees?

"The scouts have a list of guys that they've scouted and done a lot of work on," Whiz said.  "They give us the list of guys they think will fit us.  Those are the guys they want us to look at, so it all starts that way."

The Combine is also the first time the coaches get to see the prospects compete in person.  Unlike the college scouts, who travel the country throughout the fall evaluating talent, the coaches only have the film to go by.

Thus, Whiz explains why the on-field drills are a big piece of the puzzle in his evaluations.

"The meetings we have with them is important because it's really a good chance for us to get some exposure to these young men," he said.  "But it's also good to get a chance to see how they react on a football field.  The consistency of the drills, and how you can compare them to what we've seen in the past, it's all part of the process of getting to know them."

At his fourth Combine as the Bolts' offensive coordinator, Whisenhunt couldn't help but flash back to one young playmaker who caught his eye a few years back.

He's someone who has gone from highly touted prospect to one of the game's top tight ends – Hunter Henry.

"I remember thinking Hunter was a guy who was serious about football, and wanted to get better," he recalled. "He came from a program where he did a lot of things, which made us think he had a chance to be a good pro.  Just spending the little bit of time we had with him here reinforced that."

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