Rise and Fall in Indy

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To track the activities at the NFL Scouting Combine (scheduled for Feb. 23 – Feb. 26) visit our Scouting Combine Page found in the Main Menu above.

Every April, the NFL conducts an amateur draft of elligible college players.  Teams spend hundreds upon hundreds of man-hours preparing for a two-day event that can make or break their franchise.  In fact, each player selected during the seven-round event, has been scouted tirelessly, even for years, as NFL scouts have been to campus to watch them play throughout their collegiate careers.

Film of each player isn’t just studied.  It’s watched dozens of times, picked apart, analyzed, broken down.  Teams look for every player’s strengths and weaknesses.  They want to know how they stack up against the competition.

However, no player entering an NFL draft has ever faced the kind of competition on the field that they face two months prior the the draft at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.  (This year’s Combine begins this coming Saturday February 23rd.)

It’s nothing like anyone has ever seen before.  On the NFL’s official website, they refer to it as “the annual job fair for prospective new NFL players.”  That’s being kind.  In fact, it’s the company line.  Forget what they say.  This event is a meat market deluxe.  Players are poked, prodded, checked for injuries, timed in running drills, given position-specific drills, tested (and we do mean on paper) and measured.

That sounds nothing like any job fair I’ve ever attended and, I’ll wager, probably nothing like any job fair you have ever attended.  It’s cold, calculated and precise (at least as precise as these things can be).

Each player has already been evaluated on film.  In fact, anything the player says or does that makes the mainstream media can become a part of that player’s file.  No team, afterall, wants to draft someone who doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a “character player.”  In this age of information, there can be a lot written by the media about a player, true or even untrue.  But it can all impact the player’s status.

It’s obvious that one of these youngsters can benefit from having a good day at the Scouting Combine.  A better than expected time in the 40 and that player’s stock can rise greatly.  Conversely, a lot of money can also be lost if he had a bad day at these workouts.

Also, standing to make a lot of money – agents.  By now, sports agents have already managed to sign these players to fancy pieces of paper written in legalese that will entitle the agent to a healthy cut of any salary the player receives.  One minute, an agent can be eating caviar and the next, he’s eating from the dollar menu.  It can all hinge on what a player does on the field in Indianapolis on a single day in February.

Then consider the Wonderlic Test adminstered to every jock who strolls into the RCA Dome.  It amounts to an IQ test.  Pretty simple stuff really – the test contains 50 questions and only 12 minutes are provided to answer them.  The grade received on the test is based on the number of questions answered in the time provided.  The highest score is 50 and the lowest score is…well…zero.  (If you’re interested in taking a sample test click here.  Then see how you stack up against some of the biggest names in NFL history here.)

It’s surprising really.  The NFL doesn’t necessarily try to avoid language that makes this sound like a meat market.  “Meet [the] NFL’s new crop of talent” reads one link on their Scouting Combine main page.  I’m not sure just how often similar phrases will be uttered during the many hours of televised coverage of this event.  But unless you’re a complete draftnik, this probably isn’t must-see TV.  Then again, maybe it could be interesting to watch a guy try to improve his draft status.

The problem is that there will be a number of players who harm their draft status.  It’s all about the rise and fall of their draft stock.  And during this four-day meat market, draft stock will be rising and falling all over the place.

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