The NFL is on the final stretch of work outs and pro days as the league hits its final stretch before the draft in 24 days. One of the key sources for professional football articles and blogs in recent weeks are who is visiting whom. College players are being reported in bulk to their potential suitors; quarterbacks are running around in a United States carousel, visiting city upon city. Some teams conduct their own personal workouts, testing and prodding these young kids to what they want to see specifically from each prospect, but at whom’s expense. During the excruciating process, the college athletes have everything to lose every single time they step on the field for an interested team. Draft stock could either increase or decrease with their workout performances, and during their interviews; not to mention a possible injury may occur during the process. Which brings in the question to be discussed, with all the pro days and personal workouts, is the Scouting Combine even necessary?
The scouting combine includes specific drills for each respective position played in a football game, minus any special teams work. Every single team is represented there, and every team has the opportunity to interview each prospect that day and days to come leading up to the draft. Fans have a hard time recalling the last time they were watching a football game and found themselves wondering, “Man, I wonder how many times that wide receiver benched 225 lbs. at the combine, that must be why he’s dropping passes.” It is really hard to comprehend why and or how measuring something like the bench press, or the long jump; could affect a future NFL prospect from moving up or down in their respective positions. Even if that’s the case, the scouting combine is a huge selling aspect for the league and attracts many die hard fans to tune in.
Pro days are another opportunity for prospects to improve on certain aspects they may have faltered in at the combine. Another tool for scouts and coaches to use in their fine tuning, while also using pro days as another day to get to know them better while seeing other, “under the radar” players. After the scouting combine and the college pro days, do teams really need more private workouts and interaction? Each team has personal scouts and personnel who follow college prospects throughout their career, and maybe even as far as high school. With years of film and hours of study time potentially for each player they are eyeing; excessive is an understatement for the overkill that goes into evaluating these college players. When teams are making multi-million dollar investments into one player though, it does become somewhat understandable.
The top overall player rated in the draft created quite a bit of a stir a few days ago, Jadeveon Clowney called an end to his private workouts and meetings with teams. Citing his overall status as the top prospect in the draft, the risk of a possible injury during a team workout wasn’t plausible for Clowney. A fellow college prospect out of Clemson, Brandon Thomas, suffered an ACL injury during a private workout for a team. Which will almost certainly drop his second to third round stock, to possibly being undrafted. Agents may now possibly steer away their players from attending private workouts, and rightfully so, with their player having everything to lose when performing each workout.
The National Football League is a cutthroat sport, players bid for the top dollar; and teams show no mercy on under performing or injured players, cutting them without hesitation. As a young 20 year old man enters the big leagues, they must do what’s best for themselves to ensure they have an extended, prolific career. With all the events that take place for college athletes, nobody would be surprised to see someone take a stance for these young student athletes; cutting down the grueling regimen to an extent. The young players coming out are the leagues future, but understanding their future are held in the hands of young men who are making their first steps out of a classroom, needs to be seriously taken into consideration. The NCAA is being forced to reevaluate their system in place for their student athletes, maybe the most popular sport in North America should do the same.
This article is one in a series, published daily, providing analysis, insight and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman