NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Conversations at the Senior Bowl. Check.
Interviews at the NFL Combine. Check.
Background sessions with players at pro days, private workouts and all-star games. Check, check, check.
And, of course, extended time with draft-eligible players during pre-draft visits, which are taking place for the Titans this week at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Check.
During the long process leading up to the NFL Draft, teams exhaust every option possible to get to know players, whether they're possible first-round picks or potential undrafted free agents. The Titans and the NFL's other 31 teams are diving deep into the background of this year's NFL prospects. The information gathering process started a while ago, when scouts began visiting campuses and watching games last year.
This year, there's another tool teams can use to gather information: video conferencing.
"I think it is just another way to talk to the player, and get to know the player in somewhat of a job interview," Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. "It will be different for us, not having done that before. But we have all FaceTimed our family, and spoke with our families and kids, via that app. So if that is something that makes sense for us, we'll take advantage of it.'"
For the first time in the pre-draft process, it is permissible for teams to have video conferences (e.g., Skype, FaceTime, etc.) with a draft-eligible player, without the conversation counting against the team's 30 non-local visits. Previously, the league's position was that such communication through FaceTime, Skype and other mechanisms would count as an official visit.
The NFL has rules that must be followed, however, out of concern some teams might overuse it during a time when players are logging a lot of miles leading up to the draft. The video conference must be reported to the Player Personnel department upon completion of the call, along with the call participants, date and time of call, and total length of time of the call.
Clubs are reminded the video conferences must be conducted at a time that doesn't interfere with the player's school schedule. And while there is no limit to the number of video conferences that a club may have with a player, clubs have been asked to be mindful of the player's schedule and keep multiple calls to a minimum.
Video conferences could begin taking place from the day after the combine to Wednesday, April 26. The draft is scheduled to begin on April 27 in Philadelphia.
The option of having additional exposure to players is a plus, Robinson said. The Titans are hosting draft prospects at Saint Thomas Sports Park over the next two weeks, but those are limited to 30.
"You just run out of spots,'' Robinson said. "If you want to spend more time with guys you have to Skype them or FaceTime or webinar or whatever it is and get to know them better since the league only allows us to talk to 30 guys (on visits).
"And the more you can talk to players and get to know players, the better."