1. The NFL Combine really has two very distinct viewing experiences, in my opinion. There is the experience of watching it knowing your team is going to get one of the top athletes at the Combine, and then there is the opposite of that. Redskins fans know the latter well. Without a first round pick the last couple years, watching the Combine has been mostly just a big tease for us. Sitting pretty at #5 overall, the Combine takes on all new meaning for us. We are actually going to get one of these guys!
2. When I am up late watching the Combine, all that is missing is the voice of Billy Mays. Doesn't it seem like a huge infomercial at times? Isn't it kind of like the NFL's version of QVC at times? I just keep waiting for a voice to direct me to ACT NOW to take advantage of this ONE-TIME offer. After all, for some of these players, their value will never be higher than it is during the Combine.
3. The fact that a guy can land in Indianapolis and improve his draft value by potentially millions of dollars does add some excitement to the proceedings, but doesn't it also underscore a problem? "Workout warriors" are not a new phenomenon and they aren't going anywhere. The extended delay between the Combine and the draft insulates teams better today than in the past against making hasty decisions. Still, when an entire fanbase sees a guy run 4.2 or put up a bench press an ungodly amount of times, pressure mounts on a front office. The best organizations don't worry about such things. Other organizations...
4. Other organizations spend more time trying like hell not to be the team that let the fastest guy in the draft fall past them, instead of taking the best player available that fills a position of need on the roster. The Combine compels people to fall in love with numbers and measurements, as opposed to what a guy looks like playing football. Again, superior front offices understand that it is one thing to perform on an indoor track, and yet another to perform in pads in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans.
5. All this makes it sound like I am down a little on the Combine. That couldn't be farther from the truth. The Combine is a huge date on my calendar. For some of these players, it is the first time we see them in the context of the league. The impressions they make during the Combine last for their entire careers, following them with free agent moves or trades. I have definitely heard people on this site bring up a guy's Combine bench press stats when the Redskins brought him in. I think we're missing something very important here.
6. If you're Marc Shea, you have envisioned every Alabama player in a Redskins jersey already, but for the average college player, the Combine is the first time when NFL fans begin to "see" them as pros. It is the first time many fans "see" them as possibly being on their team. Speed, strength, agility and technique are clearly very important to predicting if a guy can make it in the league, but it is in these first moments of being seen as professional players that these guys make their biggest impressions on fans. How do they carry themselves? How do they answer questions? What are they trying to "put out there" with regard to the kind of pro they want to be? Keep in mind, depending on where you went to school, you may have a predisposition to hate a guy that could very well end up on our team. It is by watching the Combine that you may first realize, "This guy would actually be pretty awesome in burgundy and gold." It might be because of his speed or his strength, but it also might be because he conducted himself all week in a way that makes you think he would actually be good for us. As I alluded to above, the best organizations in the league find reasons to grade players at the Combine high or low that have nothing to do with footraces and standing jumps. That is what I am trying my hardest to see through my television screen, and certainly what I am trying to glean when I listen to Mike Mayock.