Count Dan Campbell out as a head coach who grades players off their 40-yard dash times and vertical jumps. The Detroit Lions head coach has a different method of player evaluation, and it doesn't involve non-contact drills.
"I guess there is somewhat of a spectacle," Campbell said at the NFL combine this week. "To me it's more, at this point, just to be able to sit with these guys. They get the medical during the week, but for us to be able to do these interviews is to me the biggest part of all this.
"It's not even the working out portion. To me, you grade them off the tape, you don't grade off somebody out here in pajamas, running the 40 with no defender around."
Campbell not sticking around for the on-field workouts is a good bet, even though he finds the meetings with the players meaningful. That's the portion of player evaluation Campbell is seeking as he looks for franchise players in Detroit. It's how he and the Lions brass uncovered Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the 2021 draft two years ago.
"I don't know how many guys we've met with at this point," Campbell said. "Over these two to three days, let's call it 30 guys, 35 guys -- and I've check-marked four guys. To me, they got the 'it' factor.
"Just when you sit in there and you hear them talk about football, there's a fire burning in them and they can't sit in their seat. They got to get up to talk. They got to tell you what's going on.
"You can't fake that. When you have that, you love ball. You'll eat and breathe it, do anything for it and do anything for your teammates. You're uber-competitive."
The Lions embrace players who believe in competition, which is what Campbell gathers from the in-person meetings. He's not going to discover that from how players perform in the 40-yard dash or the 20-yard shuttle run.