By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) With the NFL Combine ending Monday, what do clubs do for the next five or six weeks with all the information they received?
As I’ve pointed out before, all of the 335 combine participants are expected to do well in the various drills and tests. Why? Because they have been doing nothing but training for this event for the last four to six weeks at various performance training sites around the country. This is a job interview they had a long time to prepare for.
Clubs went into this combine with a preconceived idea of how each athlete would perform. Some prospects performed just as expected, other did better and others did worse. When a player does better or worse than expected, it means that a club may have to go back and recheck the grade they had on the player and watch more tape. Teams will want to know if the scouts who graded the player missed on his overall athletic talent. If they did miss, then watching more tape will help a club come up with the correct grade for that player.
The combine drills will also show the club if the player is an athletic fit for its offensive and defensive schemes. Some players (especially underclassmen) haven’t previously been measured, timed or tested. So those combine measurables will give clubs a better idea on if some of these players match the profiles the teams desire for each position. I can assure you that there are players who were thought to be fits based on estimates but instead turn out not to match the profile of what’s wanted.
Over the next couple of days, clubs will determine which pro days across campuses they need to attend in order to get more important information on the prospects they’re interested in drafting. Teams will also determine what players they need to have a private workout with. Any time you draft a player, you have to have as much information as possible.
The various college pro days will begin later this week and continue through the first week of April. Because there are often several pro days on any given day, clubs have to determine which of those they most need to attend.
Interviews at the combine are only 15 minutes in length. A team can only scratch the surface of what they need to know in that short period. There will be players whom they need to spend more time with, and they’ll be brought in to the facility for a more comprehensive interview.
Clubs will also begin restructuring their draft boards. Some players will get higher grades, some lower, all depending on the information received at the combine and the various pro days.
Another note around this time of year: This is now lying season. Over the next several weeks, scouts and club executives will lie more than at any other time during the year. They will purposely make public comments or have off-the-record conversations with reporters, all with the intention to throw off other teams as to what their real thinking is.
The other aspect that comes into play as clubs prepare for the draft is the medicals. Without a doubt, there will be some players whom a club had a high talent grade on who ended up with a poor medical exam. In some cases, the results of the medical will be so bad that the team can no longer think about drafting that player. Because of that, draft boards will have to be readjusted, and plans of selecting a player from a certain position will also be rethought. The medical results can also alter how a club plans to attack free agency, which starts in about a week.
For coaches, scouts and fans, the fun has just begun.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.