View Full Version : Combine Overrated?

02-23-2010, 10:33 PM
Didn't see this after a quick perusal of the forums. Sorry if it's a repost.

Peter King is a guy whose analysis in most things is pretty lacking. However, he has excellent NFL sources and gets great info. I really agree with his and his contact's perspective here. Judge the football player, not the athlete.


The Scouting Combine is coming ... but I wish you wouldn't get very excited about it.

In my calls around the league in the last few days, I spoke to one club architect who shall remain nameless at his request. He told me his team had changed its way of doing business in the scouting realm this year, and his team's draft board is "90 percent set.''

Quoth this architect: "You know why it's 90 percent set now? Because guys go to the Scouting Combine and they change their grade on a player based on things that have nothing to do with playing football. I'm convinced if you took the stopwatches away from a lot of these guys, most of 'em would not be able to tell you whether they liked a player or not.

"These guys go out and watch players all fall, then we all watch the tape of all these guys, and we see what kind of football players they are. That's scouting. Who plays good football in pads? That's scouting. Now we need the combine for the medical evaluations and the personal baggage stuff. But don't come in after the combine and tell me you want to change some guy and move him way up because he ran faster than you thought he would. That's where you get in trouble, and that's why our draft board is pretty well set.''

If I told you who this speaker was, you'd all say, "Whoa, we have to listen to this guy. We respect him.'' Just take my word for it. He's legit.

I enjoy the combine. It gives me the chance to meet a lot of players I'll be covering in the future and to see people in the NFL and get team-by-team updates. It's valuable. But it's way overrated in terms of deciding who should get picked where in the draft, and it always will be.


02-23-2010, 10:35 PM
Not one bit. It's pretty much teams sort out the noise, and the interviews are way more important than the show of workouts.

02-23-2010, 10:36 PM
I agree it's mostly about the interviews I think. The stuff in the weight room and track usually is already sorted out on the feild.

02-23-2010, 11:25 PM
Don't forget the medical examinations.

I'd also like to add that nobody ever talks about the guys who boost their stock at the combine and do pan out in the NFL because everybody is too busy pretending that they were mega-stoked over Pat Willis before before he ran a 4.4 at his pro day (or whatever he ran).

Scott Wright
02-24-2010, 01:10 AM
It can be by some but the Scouting Combine definitely has its place in the evaluation process.

It's a piece of the puzzle. It shouldn't be a major slice but it's ignorant to dismiss it completely.

02-24-2010, 01:14 AM
I for one enjoy the combine. I see where he is coming from, because cones can't tell you how good/ bad an NFL prospect is going to be. But I like watching it. It gives me insight.

02-24-2010, 01:46 AM
I think the Combine is valuable in differentiating between individual prospects. Say Prospect RB A and Prospect RB B both come from SEC schools, both played at a high level, have a similar style of play, etc. You have them ranked evenly, so they come into the Combine and Prospect RB A runs a 4.45 while Prospect RB B runs a 4.6. You now have a number that can be used to better place the two RBs on the big board.

02-24-2010, 02:08 AM
The combine gets the attention it does because it's easily the largest blip on the map prior to the draft. There's no question that it should play a rather small role in talent evaluation, but a lot of teams will meet their prospective draftees for the first time, which is sort of a big deal.

02-24-2010, 02:19 AM
Definitely. The only things needed from the combine are height, weight, and injury evaluations.

02-24-2010, 02:32 AM
I don't think it's overrated. Like someone said previously, it's a piece of the puzzle.

That said, I'd love it if the Chiefs stayed away from "workout warriors" completely. That's where I think teams get themselves into trouble.. falling for a guy with limited production but off the charts numbers. I know there have been a few drafted the last few years who fit into that category.

02-24-2010, 03:43 PM
I enjoy watching it and everything but I do think it is overrated to an extent in the sense that it seems to be SOOO closely scrutinized by the media, fans, etc. I don't think real scouts put nearly as much stock into it as we do.

A recent example of this would be Andre Smith. After his 'showing'(or lack thereof) at the combine everyone was all up in arms and then when he ran at his pro day without a shirt on it seemed as though his draft stock had plummeted, yet he was still chosen 6th by my Bengals and ended up doing very well when he finally cracked the lineup after a holdout and subsequent foot injury.

I think everyone who watched him once he became acclimated came away impressed and there's very little reason to believe he's not going to be a successful player in this league.

Offensive Line coach Paul Alexander was quoted as such, "Andre is going to be a good player. He had a high percentage of ‘Wow blocks.’ He had some of the best pancakes I’ve ever seen."

02-25-2010, 12:02 AM
I should have clarified, but I do think the combine is important for the interviews and medical evals. The other testing is interesting, and somewhat relevant.

I just tend to agree with what King's source said about setting their board based on what they see on tape. They weight the results of the combine with about a 10%. That's important in differentiating like players as someone mentioned earlier in the thread.

What jumps to mind is that Crabtree killed his top 5 status by acting like a prima dona last year.

02-25-2010, 08:11 AM
What jumps to mind is that Crabtree killed his top 5 status by acting like a prima dona last year.

The 49ers say thank you ;)

02-25-2010, 08:21 AM
I think the combine gets hyped by the media and "draftniks" as it is the only singularly "draft" thing that happens between the end of the regular season and the actual draft. Its no televised, its draft talk 24 hours a day while it is going on and people get excited.

That being said - the combine serves a purpose. The major purpose would be interviews, injury examinations and then finally a few position drills. The actual "numbers" (40, Vertical, Cone drill ect.) are definitely the smallest factor of the event.

Something that really cant be quantified, but does stick out to scouts (IMO) is seeing who takes the process seriously. Who shows up in the best shape of their lives, who looks like they have been working, who is willing to participate and compete with the other guys. I think this small tidbit could be a determining factor between equally rated players.

The combine matters - it just doesnt matter as much as the media would like it to. That being said, the "amount" that it matters certainly changes from team to team with different draft philosophies.

02-26-2010, 08:39 AM
It can be by some but the Scouting Combine definitely has its place in the evaluation process.

It's a piece of the puzzle. It shouldn't be a major slice but it's ignorant to dismiss it completely.

King is full of sh-t. There isn't a GM or HC who doesn't want to see the prospects workout against each other before reaching a final decision. King had a close relationship with Matt Millen and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Millen put this idea into King's head. Certainly, somebody was pulling King's strings to make him look ridiculous and King fell for it.
If there is a GM who actually believes in this idea, I feel sorry for that team's fans but in every sport I guess there are some GM's who are idiots(see Matt Millen).
I've seen King make ridiculous statements before but this takes the cake and is beyond comprehension.

02-26-2010, 08:41 PM
If playing college football in pads made up 90% of the grade, Jason White would be playing in the league.

The combine is the best place to have talent evaluation and to examine whether players fit with an NFL system or team, like Brad Smith. Sometimes Matt Jones fever flares, it's true. The testing is about as neutral as possible, player X on USC against player Y on LSU leads to more variation.

It's a good time to confirm evaluations of players or adjust if more questions are raised. I'm glad that the Vikings had their questions answered and took Peterson (a bit better than Quinn, Ginn, et al).

02-28-2010, 10:49 AM
The combine is good for NFL personels to get to know a players real measurables (height, weight, and speed) and to access their personality and character. As for judging how well they will perform on the football field, not so much.

02-28-2010, 11:54 AM
I think teams, except possibly the Raiders, tend to have the right level of emphasis on the Combine. I think it's fans of football, fans of the draft, and "draftniks" (no offense Scott) that elevate it to something more important than it really is.

I think the key difference is that teams don't necessarily have to have a completed draft board at this point in time. They don't have to have any draft board at this time. Sure, they've watched a lot of tape, seen some of these guys play in person, and probably have copious notes on players, but if you're drafting in the late first round, there's no point in having the top 10 defensive tackles ranked in late February. You'll have vague, fuzzy, categories like "Suh and McCoy are really good, Williams and Cody are a tier or more below them". There's plenty of time in March to get your board straightened out. The combine is ultimately most important for the interviews and the physicals, but it also is useful to teams to just provide a number for things they've already noticed by watching tape (e.g. You can tell a guy has great burst by watching him play, but if you're comparing two similar prospects, it might be good to know who is burstier). A lot of the things that you see at the combine have also showed up on the field at some point (with some notable exceptions, of course.)

On the other hand, for "draftniks" and other fans of the draft have a compelling reason to have a complete board in, say, October. Simply because they're in the business of providing entertainment, not building a football team. If you have nothing to say about the draft, since you're still acquiring information, nobody is going to want to read your site, blog, article, mock draft or whatever. Anyway, your audience is awfully forgiving and has a short memory. Scott and his contemporaries know that nobody would ever hold it against him for having Brian Brohm(#3), Calais Campbell (#6), and Dan Connor (#9) in his August 23, 2007 mock for the 2008 draft. Anybody who makes early projections about the draft knows that these sorts of errors are unavoidable and just go with the territory. The penalties for these sorts of errors are significantly higher in NFL personnel offices, so they're almost certainly more careful to avoid them.

02-28-2010, 01:01 PM
I definitely agree with King Peter and his source that the combine is way overrated.

It never ceases to amaze me how a guy in shorts and no pads, just doing some little skills tests, can change up to 48 games worth of actual COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON-FIELD results.

The speed for an OL in the 40 is worthless. Name the last play where the ball was snapped and the OL's job was to just launch straight ahead and run as fast as he cold for 40-yards in a straight line?

AJ Hawk and Justin Harrell were back to back first round picks who tested all-world at the combine.
Has anyone seen them make any all-world plays for the Packers?

Hawk lost most of his playing time to Brandon Chillar last year, and Harrell has never been seen on the field for us in 3 seasons, never introduced himself to the opposing offense's QB or backfield. But he looked great at the combine.

02-28-2010, 01:13 PM
It'd be much more appealing to the masses if it were shown on ESPN rather than NFL Network.