2013 NFL Scouting Combine: What Should We Take Away From It?

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The NFL scouting combine is underway. Can you feel the excitement? College players from around the country are gathered in Indianapolis so that executives can evaluate them on agility, strength, accuracy, and other measurable skills in preparation for April's draft. While being able to compare apples-to-apples is important, if the combine is any more than a method to verify what an organization thinks they already know, they are over-emphasizing drills, not watching or properly evaluating college games, and probably not drafting effectively.

Kyle Boller can throw a football from midfield through the goalpost uprights while on his knees. Darius Heyward-Bey, and Jacoby Ford can run really fast in a straight line without pads on. Jerome Simpson has a great vertical leap. What a guy can do without an opponent lined up in front of him, without having to understand and execute a playbook, and without the gear he will wear during a game doesn't mean a whole lot.

It is important for teams to know exactly how tall a player is, what he weighs, and interview prospects to get a feel for their professionalism and acumen. It is nice to know if a player is a little quicker, or not quite as strong as you thought he was. However, if a defensive linemen can shed a block, how strong he is becomes marginalized. If a quarterback has a rocket for an arm, even if he is accurate, it doesn't mean he can read a  defense.

While scouts jot down figures and edit their reports on individual players, the media and fans weigh in on the combine with virtually no credentials.  Reporting that a player runs a certain speed is fine. Hypothesizing that because he is quick makes him better or worse than another player is silly.

If you go to a movie and enjoy it you might tell friends that is was entertaining, or funny, or emotional, or comment that you liked an actor. You probably do not rave about the cinematography, or speculate on how effective the grip crews were.

Comparing a tackle from Washington against a corner from Grambling State cannot be done either at the combine or by amateurs. Going to games, watching film, and having a PHD in football is no different than your job. We can not become an accountant because we kind of like numbers, or an air traffic controller since airplanes are kind of fun. Experience, and hard work are needed to do anything well. The combine is helpful for those who understand what they are looking for, and even those people know it is only a small piece of the puzzle.