The single biggest scouting event in the NFL begins tomorrow in Indianapolis. Every year all thirty two teams send representatives to poke, prod and test the cream of the incoming crop in preparation for April's draft. Some players have something to prove while others are simply there out of expectation. The entire process is covered like a feeding frenzy, and it has me wandering. How much does the NFL Combine really matter?
To answer that question, I think it's important to do the due process of analyzing various perspectives and takes, so I'd like to start with a perspective that really matters, that of an NFL GM.
Howie Roseman is the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles and is tasked with the job of rebuilding, or re-tooling depending on your perspective, the Eagles franchise. When asked in an interview on the team website how much the Combine will effect his draft board, he responded, “It really shouldn’t change drastically. I think some of the problems you get into is you get into the Senior Bowl, you get into the Combine and all of a sudden your board changes drastically. It’s got to be back on the tape.”
While Roseman is dead on when talking about drastic shifts in a draft board, it's also important to realize that many players are looking to impress at least one team enough to shoot up someone's draft board. These are the players that stun us with their athletic prowess, but it's never clear whether or not that athleticism translates to an NFL playing field.
It's for that reason that NFL GM's will likely take anything and everything they come across in the coming week with a grain of salt. Yes, their will be young players that run stunning 40 times or blow scouts away with agility, but game film has and always will be teams' go to material for evaluation.