One week before the NFL Scouting Combine begins in Indianapolis, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., talked about the importance of the pre-draft process during a conference call with the national media on Wednesday.
“The Senior Bowl leads to the Combine and leads to the Pro Days,” Kiper said. “The Combine’s optional in terms of working out. You don’t have to do all the different workouts they ask you to. You run, lift, all the different tests that go on. The medical and all the interviews are mandatory, but the other stuff is optional. Some benefit tremendously from the Combine.
“Senior Bowl week is huge for a lot of these players, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of underclassmen that are going to go in this draft in the first round. I have 18. It all works hand-in-hand. It’s all critical; it’s all important.”
Kiper talked about the rise in interest and importance in the Combine, which came at a time when all-star games “diminished a little bit.”
“With the all-star games, there were a lot of them, and they were very, very popular for a while. Then, it just didn’t happen, Kiper said. “Players were so concerned with injuries, the evolution of the junior coming out early, the underclassmen coming out early in high, high numbers prevented them from going to the these all-star games. That’s what hurt the all-star games.
“Then, it became about these workouts. You don’t have computer numbers on these kids for a lot of them until you have that type of venue, particularly the underclassmen. That’s the first time you get accurate computer numbers on them.”
During the Combine, players undergo medical tests and 15-minute interviews with NFL front-office staff members and coaches. On their last day in Indianapolis, players go through the on-field drills.
In most years, quarterbacks elect to throw only at their Pro Day workouts later on in the process. Although several quarterbacks have decided to throw at this year’s Scouting Combine, Kiper sees an advantage to waiting for the Pro Day.
“Combines are rough on quarterbacks because you’re in with new guys,” Kiper said. “It’s a pressure-packed environment. The whole Combine is pressure-packed. You have to be here, you have the interviews, you have the medical. It’s a lot of poking and prodding. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s not an optimum venue. To me, for quarterbacks, the Pro Day is the critical part of it.”