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With draft looming, player visits kick into high gear

With the NFL draft weeks away, team personnel are burning the midnight oil scrutinizing film, rearranging draft boards and boiling down the short list. All of this leads to handing out millions of dollars to a few young men being counted on to either sustain or bring success to an NFL franchise. It's a human process. Part of that includes meeting with players to gain a feel for their character and football intelligence. Does a guy light up the room -- or the diva radar?

Every NFL team can arrange for 30 out-of-town visits and an unlimited number from the local area. NFL Network's Charley Casserly explains it this way: "At the combine, you only have 15 minutes to meet with a player privately. At the pro-day visit in March, it is impossible for all of the members of your staff to be there. So now, the whole organization has the ability to assess the player. You cannot work out the player unless he lives locally. One of our strategies was to have a young member of our scouting staff pick up the player at the airport. Many times, the player would be more candid with a young scout closer to his age. I always wanted to know what each prospect said to our scout."

Here are a few (but not nearly all) of the high-profile player visits in recent days:

Baltimore Ravens: Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill visited with Ravens coaches this week, according to the Carroll County Times. Hill is a speed merchant and turned heads with his 4.36 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Baltimore has talent at wideout (Anquan Boldin and young Torrey Smith), but the Pittsburgh Steelers have taught us this: Keep hitting at this position, and you have the chance to redefine your offense.

Cleveland Browns: LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne visited Cleveland on Wednesday night, The News Herald reported. The Browns are expected to go offense with the pivotal No. 4 pick, but there's been chatter of teaming Claiborne up with Joe Haden. That's a luxury for the Browns, who have shown little ability to run or pass the football in actual games. This team needs weapons today. Enter Alabama running back Trent Richardson, who visited with the team Sunday for a group dinner that included Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Baylor receiver Kendall Wright and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David also met with Browns personnel, per the Akron Beacon Journal. Other visits included USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil and Virginia Tech running back David Wilson, who appears to play with just a tad of passion.

Denver Broncos: John Elway and friends flew to Arizona State University to meet with quarterback Brock Osweiler, per The Denver Post. NFL.com draft guru Gil Brandt believes the 6-foot-8 signal-caller could sneak into Round One. That remains to be seen, but NFL.com's Chad Reuter calls him the fourth-best QB in the draft -- behind Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill.

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Philadelphia Eagles: Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe -- all 346 pounds of him -- took in a visit with the Eagles this week, strolling the hallways of the NovaCare Complex with defensive line coach Jim Washburn, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team also hosted LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, suggesting the Eagles might draft linemen early. Philly's D-line is one of the better groups in football, anchored by Jason Babin (and his 18 sacks in 2011), along with Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Trent Cole. Scary thought for the NFC East.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If the Browns don't select Richardson at No. 4, coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs will give him major consideration at No. 5. Schiano is nonplussed with LeGarrette Blount's fumbling issues and heaped praise on Trent. "I've studied a lot of tape on (Richardson). He's a very talented guy," Schiano said last month. "I met him briefly. I look forward to spending more quality time with him here before the draft." That happened this week down in Tampa, per a tweet from the Alabama back.

Washington Redskins: As NFL Network's Albert Breer reported Friday, the Redskins plan multiple visits with electric RG3, with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan scheduled to meet with the Baylor QB "a couple times a week" leading up to the draft. RG3 is allowed to visit the team complex once, but there's no limit to the amount of times a team can visit a player on his home turf. Redskins GM Bruce Allen told Breer there's nothing unusual about it. Meaning Shanny the Younger is looking at a steep bill from the Waco Motel 6.

There's plenty more where this came from, so check back soon.

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