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Cover 3: What to watch for at the Combine


The staff debates what to watch for at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine:

The NFL Scouting Combine officially begins on Tuesday, and the team will be in Indianapolis to cover it all. Today, our writers discuss what they will be looking for as 336 of the top prospects gather for the job interview of a lifetime:


I've had a chance to watch a lot of these guys on tape and in games this year. It is informative to see if the times in drills reflect what we've seen on the field, but I'm more interested in seeing them in a way you can't by watching them in helmets and pads on tape. I want to see what they look like physically in-person in terms of their frame size. When the guys hit the podiums to speak to the media, you are able to stand only a few feet away and compare their body types to some of the players who have succeeded in the NFL. I've been surprised many times by what someone looks like up close after watching them on video.

I want to see these guys talk to the media. I want to see how they present themselves. Obviously, many of the athletes here have been coached up in terms of what to say, but you can judge a lot about their nature and attitude by watching them answer questions for 10 minutes. No one would argue their on-field work isn't much more important than anything they say in front of the media, but it's a good way to learn some things about these guys that you can't by watching them play football. In that way, the combine is a unique opportunity, and I'm looking forward to it.


I have been to a handful of these combines now, but never with the Giants holding the second overall pick in the draft. That puts everyone in play, whereas in the past you knew top prospects like the Joey Bosas and Leonard Fournettes of the world would never fall to the Giants. So, naturally, I wouldn't pay attention to them as closely. Not this year, though. Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and the quartet of quarterbacks are seemingly all on the table. We'll get to see all of them run, jump, and answer a few questions while the real work goes on behind the scenes in team interviews and medical checks.

Also, don't forget head coaches and general managers speak at the combine. Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman are set for Wednesday morning, which will be the first time we have heard from them in a month. In that time, Shurmur finalized his coaching staff and Gettleman has had time to evaluate players for the start of free agency in a few weeks. So we'll get a good state of the team address there. Indianapolis is the place to be.


The combine is simply 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 Media draft analyst Mike Mayock updates his position-by-position rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft.

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