NFL Draft Combine: What to Watch For

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The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the biggest offseason events of the NFL calendar. It is a large event where a large number of NFL Draft-eligible prospects (more than 300 players) are invited to partake in drills and interviews under the supervision of media, NFL general managers, coaches and scouts.

This year, the NFL Combine is from February 23rd to February 28th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here are some of the biggest storylines to look out for during Combine Week, some from Indianapolis, others from around the entire NFL landscape.

    • Will Robert Nkemdiche’s story be straightened out?
      • Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is one of the most talented players in the 2016 NFL Draft class. However, he has had several issues with conduct off of the field, including being sit down for the 2015 Sugar Bowl after an incident involving falling out of a hotel window and a charge for possession of marijuana. NFL teams know of any player’s issues, and grill those prospects relentlessly. Nkemdiche would be wise to be up front with NFL executives in order to retain his status as a top 10 talent in this draft.
    • Will Denver have a decision on their quarterback situation?
      • The Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos, have an issue at quarterback.

 

    • Who is going to become the latest “Combine Star” to shoot up draft boards?
        • It happens every year. Some players are going to look downright amazing in many combine drills and look like athletic freaks. However, some of those players with the amazing combine numbers will get drafted higher and burn teams for picking them too soon. For as amazing as the combine can be, it is not the best evaluation tool for NFL teams.
        • In contrast, there will be some players who will have bad combine days and see their stock fall. For some, it becomes a bit of a downward trend. For others, it means some team will get a great football player who is not a terrific athlete, and get a huge value for the drop in that player’s stock.

 

    • Will the top quarterback please stand up?
        • All 18 quarterbacks who have been invited to the NFL Combine have declared that they will throw during the combine. Every year, teams will see a couple of quarterbacks, generally those who are near the top of draft boards, decide to skip out on throwing. This year, there are 3 quarterbacks -Jared Goff of California, Paxton Lynch of Memphis and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State- who are trying to separate themselves and pull away from the others. To see all 3 of them, as well as the rest of the QBs, decide to throw to players is important and worth watching.

       

      • Here is why it’s important to acknowledge: these QBs will be throwing to wide receivers that they are not familiar with. Chemistry is important in the passing game, and trust builds between a QB and his WRs. So the passers need to be more on target with their wideouts at the combine. If they are, NFL teams are more likely to trust their accuracy. If they fail, it’s not a huge indictment of arm talent, but it does not help when other QBs succeed where they failed.

 

    • Please ignore the speed demons!
      • Don’t buy into top notch 40-yard dash times as an absolutely good thing. Of the top 5 40-yard dash times, only one players had more than a minor role for his respective NFL team: running back Chris Johnson (2008). Johnson was a star running back who has the fastest 40-yard dash time of 4.24 seconds. After that the rest of the top 5 are: RB Dri Archer (spot gadget player and return man for Pittsburgh), WR Marquise Goodwin (injury-prone and rarely used in Buffalo), WR J.J. Nelson (buried in Arizona’s depth chart) and WR Jacoby Ford (currently playing in Canada).

 

    • Cap Casualties!
      • Many teams need to, or just simply want to, make some early cuts. For example, the New York Jets just cut ties with CB Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie has been more than serviceable, but not at the cap hit he commands. More teams will look to follow suit. Keep your eyes on Cleveland (center Alex Mack can opt out), Buffalo (DE Mario Williams, CBs Corey Graham and Leodis McKelvin), Miami (Cameron Wake) and Minnesota (WR Mike Wallace) in particular.

 

  • OK, What Drills SHOULD You Watch?
    • The 3-Cone Drill and the 20 -Yard and 60-Yard Shuttles (agility), the Broad Jump (explosiveness) and a multitude of the individual position drills (offensive line, linebacker, wide receiver, quarterbacks throwing in drills and defensive backs tracking the football down).

Anything that you think I’ve overlooked as the NFL Combine hits full stride? Let us know in the comments below! And keep coming back to Better Live Than Dead Sports for more on the NFL Draft and all of your sports needs!

Written by Derek Kramer

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