Cover 3: Previewing the NFL Combine

In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, we discuss what to look for this week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

JOHN SCHMEELK: What I really want to see at the combine is the stuff I can’t see. The best source of additional information in the evaluation process are the physical exams and personal interviews, and those are the things that fans and the media can’t access in Indianapolis. Game tape is the greatest factor in evaluating prospects. The combine interviews and medicals allow teams to complete their profile of the player with important off the field information.

In terms of what the media gets to see at the combine, I’m looking forward to standing up close to these players as they do their media availabilities to get a feel for their body types. It’s one thing seeing these players on tape, but it is another seeing their build, so it’s easy to compare their physical stature to other players I’ve seen succeed at their position at the NFL level. The events I find myself gravitating to more and more are the three-cone and short-shuttle. The 40-yard dash is absolutely important and is an indicator of athleticism, but the NFL is a change of direction league. The ability of players to start, stop, change direction and then burst is what gives wide receivers separation, running backs the ability to make people miss, and cornerbacks the skillset to blanket opposing receivers.

DAN SALOMONE: Don’t forget Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur will give a State of the Giants address on Wednesday morning. General managers and coaches from all 32 teams typically speak in Indianapolis and while “loose lips sink ships” is the prevailing approach this time of the year, you do occasionally get some real news. Whether it is specifically about the Giants or something around the league, we will see. Neither Gettleman nor Shurmur will outright say which prospects the team has an eye on, but you do get some insight into their thinking. And then you can connect some dots.

For example, Gettleman spoke last year about the “gold jacket” test when you’re picking so high in the draft and how he finds the whole myth of devaluing running backs comical. He also spoke about the importance of the interior on both the offensive and defensive lines. And what did the Giants do in the first three rounds? They drafted running back Saquon Barkley, guard Will Hernandez, and defensive tackle B.J. Hill. Funny how that works.

You also have to remember that free agency is right around the corner. It opens with the official start to the league year on March 13. The deadline for clubs to apply franchise or transition tags is March 5, the day after the league wraps up in Indianapolis. What you see on NFL Network this week is only the tip of the iceberg of what really goes on at the NFL Combine.

LANCE MEDOW: The combine is a complementary piece to the player’s resume, which was composed during the season. A few days of workouts shouldn’t trump a much bigger sample size of work from games, especially since players don’t wear any pads during the combine. I look for players who showcase versatility in the workouts. It’s not about just wowing everyone in the marquee event (40-yard dash) but also whether they’re successful during various drills. You want to find well-rounded players, not an individual who just flashes in one area. It’s also important to see that their production during drills, without pads or helmets, complements or even surpasses what they have accomplished on the field. For example, if a player showcases great speed in games, you expect to see that reflected in the 40-yard dash, or if a player appears to have impressive ups, then that should also show up in the vertical jump.

To me, the most important facet of the combine is what you actually don’t see on television. That’s what takes place in the face-to-face meetings with team executives. More often than not, you learn a lot about a player off the field more so than what happens between the lines. The mental side of football is just as key as the physical aspects. How a player reacts to schemes and understands the X’s and O’s of football is the biggest takeaway from the combine, not necessarily the stats he posts during a few workouts.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks unveiled his first position rankings for the 2019 NFL Draft.

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