Q&A With: Joe Mendes

The Redskins vice president of football operations is part of Washington's contingent at the Senior Bowl this week. With the 13th overall pick, the Redskins have a chance to pick an impact player and Mendes will have a role in making that selection.

Q: How important is attending the Senior Bowl this week?

A: It's another major part of the puzzle. You get to see them in person. Any time you can watch a player practice and see how he learns, see how he moves around, see how he responds to the pressure of the week with so many eyes focused on him. You're also given the opportunity to visit with him and it may be the first time you've visited with any of the players.

Q: What do you learn about the players that's unique to this week?

A: At the combine, you don't see them respond to coaching, especially pro coaching. The combine is running and jumping through hoops. This is just football, it's a chance to see players at the lower levels and how they respond to the bright lights and practicing with players from USC and Auburn and Miami. It's invaluable.

Q: What's the best example you have of a no-name player who made a big name for himself at the Senior Bowl?

A: I can just remember one: Christian Okoye. He was very impressive in the all star games.

Q: Do you look more at guys from the smaller schools because players from larger schools might be more tested?

A: You want to watchthem all and see how they respond. There's no boiler plate recipe for what success is. The more opportunities you have to see and evaluate these players, the better chance you have for success. It's very important to see how they interact with their teammates and coaches that they've never met before. You can tell how seriously they take this game.

Q: Anyone written themselves off because of off-the-field activities?

A: Only one and I can't say who it was. But one day into practices I saw a couple questionable looking people standing outside [where the players were staying]. This player came down and said, 'I'm going out with my new buddies.' There were some other questionable things with him, too. You make a note of that. [This player] actually had a decent career before he got hurt.'' off field, written off: only one.

Q: What are the team's biggest needs?

A: We honestly have not sat down as a staff and gone over that. It's premature, with so many decisions that have to be made internally on certain players as to who fits into the long-range plans.

Q: Will you be big players in free agency?

A: It totally depends. You can't go to chapter 11 in a book without reading the first chapter. That's the biggest problem people have. They want to jump in without going through the natural progression. The first evaluation has to be the players on your own team.

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