If you have been around Big Blue View for a while, you've heard this speech before. The 2011 NFL Scouting Combine begins today, which means here comes Ed's 'I really hate the NFL Scouting Combine' speech.
Which I have to make. Sorry, gang. I hate this week-long NFL meat market. Players will be poked, prodded, weighed, tested, drilled, analyzed and interviewed by scouts, general managers and coaches looking for every last morsel of information. Unfortunately, this is my problem with the Combine. No football gets played there and most of the testing, poking, prodding and interviewing tells teams nothing about the thing that is most important to the decisions they make on draft day -- what kind of football player a young man is.
Players will rise and fall down fictitious draft boards based on their 40 times, how many reps they bench press, their vertical jumps, their Wunderlich scores and how likable they are during the myriad interviews they will undergo throughout the next several days.
I say fictitious because right now the only people with 'draft boards' are media members, scouting services and wannabe-general managers who spend too much time constructing completely unrealistic seven-round mock drafts. NFL teams don't have draft boards yet.
For me, the Combine is where scouts and general managers make their biggest mistakes. They fall in love with the numbers they see on their stopwatches and clipboards, they get enamored with how well a guy moves or throws in shorts and a tee-shirt.
Yes, you can 'translate' some of the drills you watch to what they mean on the football field. But, you can't measure what kind of player a guy is from a battery of tests and drills at the Combine. You can't measure a player's instincts. His heart. You can only do that by watching a guy play, and by studying the film to see what he does when he is actually on the field.
I understand that the Combine is a necessary part of the process, and is important in the sense that it gives NFL people a real first chance to spend some extended time around these prospects. Soon enough, though, you will start to hear that GMs and scouts love this guy or that guy "because of what he did at the Combine."
More often than not, those are the guys who go too high in the draft and cost coaches and general managers their jobs.
NFL Combine: Thursday, Feb. 24-March 1
TV: NFL Network, 2:30 p.m. ET (Press Conferences)