The NFL lockout is bad. We can all agree on that. Down time does not have to become lost time, however, and that is why teams are adjusting their approaches to the offseason.
St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney, appearing recently on Sirius NFL Radio, offered a glimpse into how his team is using the time. The Rams are getting a jump on scouting 2012 draft prospects from smaller schools, something they wouldn't have time to do at this stage under normal circumstances. Devaney:
"Once the scouting process starts and our scouts are on the road, every day is critical and the worst thing is for a scout to arrive at a school, spend all this time and energy to get there, and within a half hour of watching tape, you say, 'You gotta be kidding me, this guy can’t play.'
"So, what you try to do now is look at tape in the office on these bubble schools and always err on the side of going (to visit). If there is no question this guy is draftable, you go. If he is not, maybe we'll do some late tape work to see if he gets better during the season and go and visit, but right now it is not worthy of a visit."
Devaney also said the Rams are spending more time making sure their scouts have a good feel for what the coaches want in players. Other teams are taking similar measures. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said the down time has allowed his staff to more thoroughly think through how they'll teach schemes to players. The Arizona Cardinals, among others, have taken an earlier look at their 2011 opponents.
The Seattle Seahawks, like the Rams, also plan to get scouts and coaches together to more clearly synchronize their approaches.
"We have done a lot of tape work with our scouts to update them on the tweaks Josh McDaniels is bringing to the offense," Devaney told Sirius.