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Chiefs GM John Dorsey Explains Finding the "Soul of the Player"

Dorsey spoke on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama

Whenever Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey is asked about building a roster, there's always one constant, and that's the mention of "football character."

He wants to build an entire roster of players who truly love the game of football, not just guys who are good at playing it.

But as he spoke with me on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, he explained how the task of determining a player's love for football can be tricky when put in an environment where every player is trying to put their best foot forward.

"It's always challenging," Dorsey explained. "But I think that we as a staff have been doing this long enough where I think we can kind of cut through the stage presentation, kind of get into the soul of the player."

As Dorsey and his staff search for what makes each of the 110 players competing at the Senior Bowl this week click, there's plenty of communication taking place between the personnel department and the coaches.

During the season, scouts and evaluators on the personnel side are out on the road watching college games and evaluating these players. So when they arrive in Mobile, Alabama this week, they're already very familiar with a lot of the guys competing here.


But the coaching staffs have been all in with their season, and catching them up as they go through the offseason process is all about communication.

"[Andy Reid] and I talk all the time," Dorsey said. "I'll talk to him on the phone tonight, just kind of give him a brief update on what's going on down here [at the Senior Bowl]. Once the staff has made their evaluations of the players and we begin to rank them as we move forward into the draft meetings, we'll begin to assess the college part of it.

"Then we continually meet in terms of our plan for unrestricted free agency."

Coming down to the Senior Bowl for more than 20 years now as a scout or personnel director, Dorsey enjoys what this week provides for NFL teams looking to make decisions about their future.

"I think it's your first look cumulatively of the senior class that's coming in this year's draft," Dorsey said. "It gives you a chance to get to meet these players on a one-on-one basis but also, it's an opportunity for us to see them compete amongst their peers.

"It's just where the process starts to begin."

With more than 70 underclassman declaring for the draft this year, Dorsey admits there's work to do on their end and says it's still far too early to make judgments about this draft class as a whole.

"We still have a little work to do on the juniors situation," Dorsey said. "I don't think it's fair to say the strengths or weaknesses of this draft at the present time. I'll have a much better grasp but the time I get to the combine of exactly what the strengths and weaknesses are of the draft and unrestricted free agency."

At the conclusion of the 2014 season, Dorsey praised defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and the Chiefs defensive coaches for the flexibility they showed in utilizing the different strengths of the players out on the field.

When asked whether or not that same flexibility is used when looking at the skillsets of draft prospects, Dorsey said it's about getting a basic philosophical understanding of the characteristics they're looking for in players first.

Photos from Tuesday's practices at the 2015 Senior Bowl

"It takes constant communication with the coordinators, offense, defense and special teams as well as the head coach," Dorsey said. "Once you get a basic philosophical understanding of specific positional needs, I think you have a greater understanding of what makes this offense, defense or special teams click.

"Once you have that grasp of the understanding of what it takes for success, you go get those characteristics and those qualities."

Dorsey also said they've worked through the self-scouting part of the offseason and have now started moving towards building the roster for next season based on that information.

"The self-scouting part of it is you go back and you evaluate the season," Dorsey said. "You determine the strengths and weaknesses of your club and then you begin to put together a plan so to speak of how you can fill those voids and continually be competitive within the AFC West.

"We've started that. We've signed some futures guys, we've signed some guys off the streets. We think that they'll be a good fit and as we move forward, we'll sign more guys."

As the Chiefs personnel staff continues to work through Senior Bowl week, Dorsey shared what kind of attitude a player could show this week that would impress him.

"Well I would want to compete on a daily basis against my peers," Dorsey said. "I'd want to be a good guy. I'd want to show that I'm a good football player, I am a good person and I have what it takes to win not only on the field, but off the field as well." Simply put, the soul of the player.

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