There is no such thing as an off-season in the National Football League.
As soon as Pat Shurmur was hired as the 13th full-time head coach of the Cleveland Browns on January 13, he began formulating his staff for the 2011 season. In doing so, Shurmur added a wealth of NFL experience to the staff, including defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes, among others. Several members of the Browns coaching staff have also coached in the Super Bowl.
“We feel as though we’re putting a bunch of guys together that are great teachers, great motivators and so, that takes a little time to find the right fit and mix of guys,” said Shurmur. “We’re excited about the guys we’ve hired. Also, I’m spending time getting to know the organization and the people that are here. I think that’s part of it because I do think this is about the people.
“I’ve spent some of my time getting around the building and meeting the people we’ll be working together with and obviously, getting to know some of the current players,” he continued. “I’ve reached out to a few on the phone and some of the players that are here, I’ve had a chance to spend time with. Then, I’ve had time, in my off-time so-to-speak, to watch tape and get familiar with the players that we have so that we can proceed forward in free agency and the Draft.”
Though he was compiling a coaching staff, Shurmur always had an eye on the end of February when NFL teams head to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 2011 Scouting Combine. The seven-day Combine runs from February 23-March 1.
At the Combine, Shurmur and his fellow coaches will evaluate players eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, which will be held from April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. From medical and psychological tests to one-on-one interviews with teams and the much-analyzed time in 40-yard dash, prospects are evaluated on many levels.
“The evaluation of a draftable player is so important,” Shurmur said. “All of the information is there; it’s just important that you get it and you evaluate if he’s the right guy for you. That’s a long process. I find it to be somewhat enjoyable getting to know the players that you’re going to draft and have become part of the Browns organization. It needs to be organized and done in a way where the coaches are involved as well as the personnel people who know the most about the players.
“You want to No. 1, find out about the players, see who they are and then, you evaluate them based on how they played,” he concluded. “The interaction we have with them, you’d like to see him react to certain situations and be able to evaluate that as accurately as possible.”