Why the Commanders took draft prospects to Topgolf

After nearly three months of intense speculation, as the pre-draft delirium crescendoed with brouhaha around an emoji, Washington Commanders general manager Adam Peters made a small, concrete admission about the plans for the draft. team next week.

“We feel good staying at No. 2,” he said Thursday afternoon at team headquarters. “I don’t see many scenarios where we would trade down.”

Otherwise, Peters, who didn’t always seem entirely comfortable at news conferences, was calm, confident and shy. He acknowledged that the stakes in the draft were high with Washington holding so much capital — nine picks, including six in the top 100 — and said the team was “very close” to choosing the player it will take when the draft will begin next Thursday. night. When asked if the team would combine other picks to acquire another first-round selection, he added that “everything is in consideration.”

Peters even made a few jokes, including: “I know you all have heard of Topgolf. » On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Commanders hosted more than 20 visiting prospects in Ashburn, and group activities included a visit to the high-tech driving range.

The unconventional approach, which Peters learned during his time with the San Francisco 49ers, became a topic of national debate. Notably, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk criticized the team because, he said, a group visit diluted the team’s ability to evaluate each player individually.

NFL agent Ron Butler, who represents LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels — a commonly projected pick for the Commanders at No. 2 — liked an article on criticizing the approach and responding to a Florio video making the point with thinking face emoji. It’s unclear exactly what Butler meant, but it nonetheless fueled speculation among a portion of Commanders fans.

Peters, who was not asked about Butler’s social media activity, said he appreciated the group approach and praised player personnel assistant Ashley Cohrs for creating a schedule grid to ensure that each player’s visit was productive and efficient.

“It was very beneficial to see everyone in a more relaxed environment,” Peters said. “They all spent a lot of individual time with their coaches, with us, where they were also coming in staggered, so it wasn’t like they were sitting in a room together. They all had individual time with everyone . So it worked very well.

“This is the first time I’ve been involved in this with a large group of players together at the same time,” added assistant general manager Lance Newmark. “I thought it was a really cool dynamic to see…how guys came together, how magnetic certain individuals were compared to others. Just that kind of laid back feeling from one night to the next, where it was more individualized the next day.

Managing partner Josh Harris, who participated in the team’s quarterback interviews at the NFL combine, was also present at the Commanders’ internal meetings with Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s JJ McCarthy and Michael Penix Jr. of the University of Washington.

“(Harris) was extremely supportive, and if we needed anything, he was there to provide for us,” Peters said, adding, “He was curious. (He) wanted to know how we let’s do things just because it’s his first draft.

Over the next few days, commanders will have a few more procedural steps to complete, Peters said, including a debriefing of potential visits and a meeting on the task force’s medical assessments. The team will decide on his selection early next week, he said.

Peters opened his news conference by thanking almost everyone in the organization for their contributions to the preliminary process, including the interns, and shouted out his wife, Jen, their two daughters and his mother-in-law for having moved the family across the country. country while he was working.

“I haven’t opened a single box and it hurts me,” he said.

In a little over a week, when the draft is over and Peters has laid the groundwork for rebuilding — or “recalibrating,” as he calls it — he may have a little more time to help them .

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