2015 NFL Combine Musings

If you watch the NFL Combine this year you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Players have been preparing for this week since their last college game. It’s also the official unofficial kickoff of free agency. There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. Here are few highlights of the events of the 2015 NFL Combine Evaluators: Agents and NFL brass have a love-hate relationship with the likes of Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Daniel Jeremiah, and all the draft pundits (side note: if you are a parent of a 2015 draftee, please quit reading the internet about your sons draft grade). These evaluators have never met your son, been to his campus to watch him work, interviewed him, read his medical records, talked to his position coach, nor watched hours of tape on him, and/or know what makes him tick). Now, these guys do put in some work on the top 100 rated players. However, there is a huge drop off in work after the top 100-120 draftees. Last year many of these guys gave my client LB Anthony Hitchens of the Cowboys a late round to even a free agent grade. When the Cowboys took him in the 4th round some even mentioned it was a “reach”. Anthony ended up starting 11 games for the Cowboys and played like he was a 2rd round pick or better. I do think Mayock and Jeremiah are more in tune to the process than the others but they are limited to getting the same type of intel Ted Thompson gets or the grinding area/regional scouts. Now on the flip side, we want these evaluators talking up our clients. A little media hype never hurts. What do players really think about the Combine? I’ve been representing players since 1986 and have had well over 100 clients attend Combine. I make a practice of asking players what they thought about their experience there. The answers are pretty consistent: Here are the typical replies I got, including from some players who attended in 2013 and 14'. “What a bunch of hype for a total of 30 minutes of work.” “The meetings are a joke, it’s basically a few handshakes, and a few questions that could be answered by going to my college bio.” “I’ll never want to do anything like that again. So stressful for what it was actually for. Those conditions will rarely show the best an athlete has to give.” “I wish I spent more of that time preparing on football position stuff like studying film, formations, schemes, and NFL rules. The hype doesn’t match the actual performance of what we are asked to do. I felt I spent more time running around, waiting around, and standing around than being evaluated” The Combine is in desperate need of tweaking. Now that it has become a moneymaker for ESPN (analysis/results) and the NFL Network (aired on NFL Network) the tail is wagging the dog. Meaning that it’s now another method exploiting free labor for profit. If any changes are made to the Combine they will be for the consideration of the TV/Media Networks first and their needs. Never the players. Maybe the NFLPA should ask the NFL to pay players to perform. I know, this sounds like greedy agent talk, right? Well not everyone of these players make it, the NFL and its partners are making money from the event so why not trickle it down from the billionaires to the guys we are turning on the TV to watch. Front office traits: Attending the combine can give one an idea of how front offices are run, the standards that the owner, the president and/or the head coach and GM command from their employees. For example, some staffs will rarely ever be seen out about the town after 9:00pm getting a drink with the boys. Some front offices out work many others by getting as many interviews as possible, tracking down agents, meeting several times discussing personnel, free agency and draft grades. Others attend Indy rudderless without a plan and let their scouts, coaches and front office people act independently. Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

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