Should You Care About The NFL Combine?

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Aside from the XFL, the period between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is a football desert. The lone highlight for draft-heads is the NFL Scouting Combine, which is a week where the best 300 college football prospects are invited to show off their skills in Indianapolis, Indiana. Who attends the Combine to see these studs? NFL executives, coaches, personnel and scouting department members as well as medical staffers from all 32 NFL teams. You may recognize the Combine by the spike in mundane tweets from NFL reporters talking about their favorite restaurant in Indy or maybe you’re more familiar with the size of a quarterback’s hands being a hot topic (Joe Burrow momentarily retired, and Jared Goff, well he may never live that down…).

The Combine is famous for a few drills, namely the 40-yard dash and the bench press, but also includes a shuttle run, 3 cone drill, broad jump, and a vertical jump. Each position has different expectations because obviously your offensive lineman shouldn’t be setting 40-yard dash records, but hey, linemen are athletic these days, right? If you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of minimum expectations for each position:

The internet has become home to the “way too early” NFL mock drafts, and because of the plethora of information available at our fingertips, the average fan his more knowledgeable than ever about the talent in the college game, so much so that fans have literally been clamoring for their favorite player for months now! The Combine is a showcase of random skills, but I equate it to the GRE for graduate school- you want to do well, but in no way do those results have any bearing on how you will perform in your program. The same sentiment applies to the Combine, if you’ve watched a player all year, you know who they are as a player at this point. In fact, it’s possible the Combine may hurt a player’s chances in some cases more than help, and for that reason, some top prospects will elect to skip the workout portion of the Combine and opt for interviews, medical checks, and other ancillary aspects of the circus atmosphere instead. Even NFL teams have even begun to put less emphasis on the Combine, with the Denver Broncos and LA Rams opting to leave many of their assistant coaches at home where they also watch the events on TV. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will also miss the Combine while recovering from knee surgery, again reinforcing the lack of urgency of being at the event. We used to hear tons of reports about which teams were having interviews with certain players, but even that has been scaled back with interviews moved to the morning to accommodate on-field drills airing on TV at night. With all that being said, should we, as fans, care about the NFL Scouting Combine? Not especially. If you are a college football fanatic or a fan of a certain player maybe this is another great event for you, but for the average fan, it leaves something to be desired. Only the fasted 40 time, biggest bench press, and smallest hands are truly noteworthy. Even then, I will let Desean Jackson speak to the legitimacy of the 40-yard dash:

And on that note, how many days until the NFL Draft?


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