Skip to main content

2020 NFL Draft

5 things the Browns will be watching for at the NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL Combine officially began Tuesday, but you'll be seeing so much more coverage here and elsewhere starting today.

The first round of media interviews begin inside Lucas Oil Stadium with offensive linemen, running backs and specialists taking their turn with hundreds of reporters. A slew of coaches and general managers, including Cleveland's Hue Jackson, will also hold media sessions.

Here's what the Browns will be looking for on the field and in the meeting rooms during their week in Indianapolis.

1. Fit

This term can apply in a variety of ways, but you'll hear it mentioned non-stop leading up to the draft. Does the player fit the culture Jackson and the Browns reorganized front office are trying to create? If he's a defensive player, does he fit a role within the 3-4 scheme defensive coordinator Ray Horton plans to implement? If he's an offensive player, does he project to fit what Jackson and Pep Hamilton are looking for? As Jackson said earlier this week, "everybody can't be a Cleveland Brown." The Combine isn't just about evaluating who are the best football players. It's about evaluating who would be the best football players for the Cleveland Browns.

2. Medical exams

Ask around, and some will say this is the most important part of the four-day process a player experiences in Indianapolis. Players will be examined from head to toe by NFL team doctors in what is likely the most thorough evaluation of their life. Every year, a handful of players learn the nagging injury they've dealt with is a little more serious than initially believed. It also allows teams to see how a player has healed and recovered from a surgery he may have had during his college career. Injury information isn't as transparent at the collegiate level as it is in the NFL, so this is a vital part of the process that only the Combine can provide.

3. The interviews

In speed-dating fashion, the Browns will meet with a slew of top prospects for the first time in a formal setting. First impressions are important in every line of work, and the NFL is no different. How a player is questioned can depend on the team, and it can truly throw a player for a loop. Last year, Browns defensive lineman Xavier Cooper sat through a session with the Lions in which they showed him a cut-up of his worst college plays. You can learn a lot in these relatively brief sessions, and they can serve as a baseline for future interviews or a check-up after meeting with a number of these players at the Senior Bowl.

4. The numbers that matter

Browns defensive lineman Danny Shelton took some heat for his 40-yard dash time at last year's Combine, but it was one of the least significant measurables for the position he played. Certain drills matter more for certain positions. The 34 repetitions Shelton posted on the bench press provided a much better reflection of the strength he displays in the middle of the defensive line than running in a straight line for 40 yards. The opposite holds true for positions such as wide receiver and defensive back, where a bad 40 time can raise some red flags and increase the importance of the prospect's upcoming Pro Day. For the majority of players, the goal is to simply not stand out in a bad way and let your actual football performance speak for itself.

5. The quarterbacks

Holding the second and 32nd picks in the draft, Cleveland is in an enviable position. Tack on the fact the Browns are selecting behind Tennessee, which has its quarterback in place, and it's become clear Cleveland has a great opportunity to land the top signal-caller on its board if it opts to go in that direction at No. 2. The previous four factors take on even greater importance when it applies to the quarterback position. Whether or not a quarterback decides to throw for scouts at the Combine can affect perception, but it's not a dealbreaker. For a position this important and with so many variables in play, the Combine is an important part of the evaluation process, but only the tip of the iceberg.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content