The pre-draft process seems long and continuous for many but when you are watching prospects it tends to fly by. The first stop for some is the all-star games such as the Senior Bowl or the NFLPA game. The next big stop, however, is the NFL Scouting Combine. Here, participants get to compete in position-specific drills and athletic events to test each players ability to the fullest.
To some, it may just seem like a bunch of guys running around in tights, but it can be very valuable to both the players and to teams. It gives you a true understanding of a prospect, both as a football player and how they interact and act off the field.
Assessing How the NFL Scouting Combine Affects the Pre-Draft Process
How It’s Supposed to Be
Athletic testing is huge for many prospects. The biggest question asked should be, “Does this player’s athletic testing match what was seen on tape?” If so, check the box and move on. If not, you may have missed something.
If they test better than expected, it could lead to more upside or opportunities for them as players. Bad testing, however, could shoot you down draft boards. A prospect testing worse than the tape suggests that you’re either your missing something or the college did a good job of covering up said ability with scheme, role, etc.
How Testing Is Really Perceived
In reality, many look at athletic testing as more than just confirming what you see on tape. With great athletic testing, players could shoot up draft boards and suddenly be a big prospect with tremendous upside, regardless of what the tape says. Testing bad can lead to a sudden drop in your stock as you suddenly become more limited than before.
In reality, you should take all athletic testing and results seen from the Combine with a grain of salt. It by no means should be the determining factor of a player on how good they are. The testing is designed to separate players closely together on your board and confirm what was seen on tape. Of course, the more athletic the better, but with average testing scores, your draft stock shouldn’t drop more than its real value.
Risers and Fallers This Year
Who is it going to be this year? Who will test insanely good and boost their stock more than before? Who will test poorly and become a ‘forgotten’ man in this year class?
Rashan Gary, Michigan, IDL- Potential Riser
Gary has been touted as this raw athletic freak since coming out of high school. The problem? He still falls under that category. There is no denying Gary’s athletic ability as it is one of the best in the class, but he has failed to put it together on the field over the years.
Despite how raw and unrefined of a player Gary is, the combine will only confirm what everyone knows, Gary is a freak, therefore solidifying him as a top 10 pick. There is no denying just how high Gary’s ceiling is but that is contingent on his overall development as a pass rusher and refinement with hand usage/counters for him to reach that level. Because of this, it makes Gary a high-risk pick with extremely high upside.
DeAndre Baker, Georgia, Cornerback- How Will He Test?
Testing is going to be huge for him. On tape, it’s hard to miss Baker’s physicality. He plays with a chip on his shoulder constantly. But there are concerns surrounding his speed and change of direction skills.
This is where the Combine could make or break him. With good testing, his stock will only go up. But with bad athletic numbers, he could see his stock slowly drop as it confirms what’s been seen on tape. No, it is not the end of the world for Baker, but it may limit him to certain schemes only making some teams out of the running for his skill set.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, Quarterback- Questions Still Surround Him
There is no denying Murray’s athleticism. It is very clear he looks to be an elite athlete, especially for the position. The big question everyone is dying to have answered is his size. What exactly does he come in at? How tall is he? And more importantly what does he weight?
There’s no denying he will be a true outlier for the position. Murray still has yet to decide on if he will throw at the Combine, which could certainly help his stock, but the real value comes in the official weigh-ins and team interviews. Nailing those will only secure a high draft selection come April.