The NFL Scouting Combine is taking place in Indianapolis, as both prospective NFL players and teams meet together under one roof. For the players, it’s a job interview for landing a coveted roster spot. For coaches and general managers, it’s an opportunity to see how these players react in a quasi-NFL type environment under the watchful eyes of coaches, scouts, and front office executives. In recent years, the combine itself has grown into its own reality show/mega football media event with coverage on the NFL Network.
The tape is still the number one important part of player evaluation
At the end of the day, how fast a player can do a 40-yard sprint, L drill, jump, or a 5-10-5 shuttle in t-shirts and shorts does not matter as much as the player’s performance on the field. These athletic measurables should be taken with a grain of salt and used as part of the context for evaluating the tape for a player. For scouts and player personnel executives, you try to see if the timed speed matches the speed of the player in film.
If the player plays faster than his timed numbers, that’s usually an indicator of a player who either has great instincts or takes a lot of gambles. If a player plays slower than the timed measurables, then the question becomes if they can mentally process the game fast enough to stick at the NFL level. It’s a balancing act for teams as they try to find players with both athletic upside and football intelligence.
Interviews and contacts still matter for one reason or another
Sometimes I think we can over-analyze news of a player meeting with a team, especially without knowing the context of a visit. There are multiple reasons a team could in theory bring in a certain player for a visit: they could have simple interest in drafting the player, they want some information about a teammate or opponent of that player and try to get an evaluation from a different vantage point, or they want to do due diligence on a player they could be facing or acquiring down the road.
Any of these reasons are valid for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and crew to try to gain information to help his team win games in upcoming seasons.
Don’t discount other athletic drills
While we get hung up on 40 times, verticals, standing jumps, etc. I do believe some of the other drills have their purpose. It gives us a chance to see a player’s potential ability to change directions, move in space, pass rushing moves, or backpedal speed since those skills do translate to the field. How a player performs in those drills could determine how teams evaluate potential draftees.
- QB/TE/WR - Thursday, February 27th 4-11pm EST
- ST/OL/RB - Friday, February 28th 4-11pm EST
- DL/LB - Saturday, February 29th 4-11pm EST
- DB - Sunday, March 1st 2-7pm EST