NFL COMBINE PREVIEW

By | February 22, 2016

Even though I would be the first to admit that too much emphasis can be placed on what this year’s Draft prospects do later this week at the the NFL Combine in Indy, in their undies, I would also maintain that the info gathered during the process is a very large piece of the jigsaw puzzle that composes prospect evaluation. But lest this turn into an editorial, how about some of the basics here one more time.

COMBINE FACTS & INFO
Players are scheduled to start showing up in Indy, Monday, Feb 22. 333 players were listed the last time I pulled numbers from the NFL website. They break down as follows by position.
QB 18 PLUS 3 who are invited just to help with throwing for the workout
OB 29 includes both RB/FB
WO 43
TE 16
OL 53

DL 64 most for any position group
LB 39
DB 59
ST 12

The invitees are based on player selection by National Scouting, BLESTO scouting and NFL team representatives. All three groups have input into the player selection process. This is great part explains why even with 333 players present, and only 255 players to be drafted, there are still dozens of players every year who were not invited to the Combine, yet actually get drafted.

Four groups of players arrive every day over the next 4 days. Each group takes 4 days to complete their portion of the event. Here is what each group does on a day by day basis:
Day 1 Registration – Hospital Pre-Exam/X-rays – Orientation – Team Interviews
Day 2 Measurements – Medical Exams – Media access – Team Interviews
Day 3 NFLPA Meeting – Psychological testing – Bench Press – Team Interviews
Day 4 On-Field Workouts – Depart Indy

The players are assigned to Groups, by position, to go through the myriad of tests and workouts. Here is the current proposed group breakdown:
Group 1 P/K/ST/OL, GROUP 2 OL, Group 3 RB/FB start their process on Tuesday
Group 4 QB/WO, GROUP 5 QB/WO, Group 6 TE start their process on Wednesday
Group 7 DL, Group 8 DL, Group 9 LB start their process on Thursday
Group 10 DB, Group 11 DB start their process on Friday

Most of the TV coverage begins on Friday, when the first groups actually hit the turf for their on-field activities. NFLN will again handle detailed coverage.

Your best bet for ongoing activities and workout numbers and info is the head over to www.nfl.com/combine to keep pace with the proceedings.

Now time for some observations and opinions…

Many would argue that the most telling of the events in Indy revolve around the medical information and exams that are conducted. Some teams even get permission from the League to send some of their team doctors to the proceedings to check out specific players that they have serious medical questions about. But the League tries to keep a manageable lid on that aspect of things. Players with significant injuries that are still healing and being rehabbed, may leave Indy with a re-check date, prior to the Draft, and an appointment to return to Indy for follow-up doctor visits.

The main reason there seem to be more surprise invitees, and omissions, from the session each year has a lot to do about how some teams use the process for purposes of their own Draft process. Some teams want a small school player in Indy because they are playing catch-up on gathering pertinent information on them. This also explains why almost all declared Underclassmen get invited every year. Some teams may also want certain players at the Combine simply for medical exam purposes because of major health concerns. It becomes a balancing act between team desires and scouting assessments. Do not assume that all 333 players are in town because they are the top 333 overall prospects for the 2016 Draft. Not true at all!

Based on who’s been invited, here are my positional group breakdowns of prospect strengths and weaknesses.

QB I see no WINSTON/N\MARIOTA this year, but the group is deep with good college QB who may fill Day 3 of the Draft in April. Right now I project 3 1st Rounders, 5-6 in the Top 100 and as many as 10 overall QB draftees.

RB/FB This is a solid, deep group thanks to underclassmen. As always medicals play a big part in evaluating the RB group. I like ELLIOTT and HARVEY in Round 1. Speed numbers may define this group once the medicals are in the books.

WR 2014 was the peak WR Draft, and 2015 was deep but lacking star power. 2016 is less than exciting and does not look to provide elite, immediate help to very many teams. Again, some of the top guys like TREADWELL, COLEMAN & BOYD need to show sub-4.40 speed, which many don’t think they have.

TE A very weak group with perhaps no 1st Rounders and only about 3 guys in the Top 100. Not many TE these days come out of school ready to run well and block.

OL This group looks above average overall, with most of the top talent being at OT. TUNSIL & STANLEY might be elite. There could be a heavy number of OT looking to slide inside this year.

DL The deepest and most talented position group overall. There is something for everyone, with edge-rushers, strong inside guys and lots of them. I would not be shocked to see 7-8 DL taken in Round 1. The strongest group of a Defense oriented Draft, especially at the top.

LB This is a divergent, talent based group. But not very many elite guys and lots of serious 2015 injuries to check out on guys like SMITH & JACK, who would be Top 10 picks if medically sound. As usual a dozen or so collegiate DE will be trying to convince NFL folks that they can stand-up in 3-4 schemes and be impact players.

DB A good group with lots of guys who look like they can play at the next level, but many have pretty short resumes’. I’d project about 3-4 first rounders and then NFL teams scrambling to qualify enough to fill their needs in the top 3 Rounds.

ST There are some pretty solid Punting prospects and a few intriguing Kickers, who could get drafted on Saturday.

Overall, I see this group going into Indy workouts representing the lowest ranked draft class since 2013. Perhaps the biggest deficiency for many is a lack of pure speed. I expect 40-times and shuttle numbers to fall short of the last two Combines. Lets all hope a few guys surprise us and post some solid numbers.

Enjoy!

Pigskin Paul