There will be plenty of buzz about 40-yard dash times and hand sizes at the NFL scouting combine. But trust that next week's annual event in Indianapolis is just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to the Browns and other team's draft processes.
"We make sure that our evaluations during the fall are not influenced by whatever happens in the postseason, it's important to separate the two," director of college scouting Bobby Vega said. "It's obviously a continuous evaluation throughout the whole process, but don't forget what you saw in the fall."
Indeed, the process of adding talent to the roster is a thorough one that's more or less winding down by the time the combine starts. As such, the Browns' personnel and scouting departments have spent the past two weeks synthesizing information gleaned from evaluations made in the fall. The combine can help teams make more sense of that information.
"Here's where teams are right now: you have players graded … so now you want to see them athletically to begin to separate them," NFL Network's Charley Casserly told Good Morning Football last week. "You cannot judge athletic ability accurately off tape or television. You need to see it live, you need to see it with space, you need to see it with three-dimension."
That's important because Vega said the Browns will use certain measurables to evaluate a prospect's play speed and how that could translate into production. But because this approach is a holistic one, scouting departments across the league have a firm grasp on which players they might want to add to the club.
"The reality is this, this is what teams will tell you and I agree with it. Ninety percent — it's an arbitrary figure, I'll admit — is what you do on the tape, it's how you play the game," Casserly said. "The combine still comes down to getting a physical, which is the most important thing because it's the only way to get it done and your 40-yard dash time because when you watch a player on tape, (you want to know) how fast he is, that's important."
Also important? Sizing up who players are off the field — something the Browns honed in on last year by selecting prospects who earned high-character marks throughout the draft process. "The biggest thing for us is really getting to know who these guys are, who these guys are as people and then who they are as athletes," Vega said.
"So the athletic side of it, we're starting to complete that process and then the spring will kind of be the final moment to kind of see what they are as athletes on the field. But just, and probably more importantly, is who they are as a person."
The combine should help offer plenty of answers going forward.