The NFL Scouting Combine begins this week, and the entire NFL world will converge on Indianapolis to watch players perform the 40-yard dash and the three-cone drill and the bench press and a bunch of other things other than actually playing football.
Some teams will make significant changes to their draft boards based on watching players do things other than play football, but the Philadelphia Eagles vow they will not be one of them.
“We’ll try to stick to where our board is now,” Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman told Philly.com.
Roseman said the Eagles’ scouting staff was hard at work throughout the college football season, and a few days of workouts in Indianapolis won’t radically change the grades the scouts have already put on the players.
“What we really try to do is, as much as we can, keep it based on the play from August to December,” Roseman said. “This is the time of year where it could play mind games on you, because you get into the all-star games, and you get into the combine and you meet with these guys, and you have to be in a position where you have to stick to your beliefs on how they play, the background they come from, as opposed to guys who flash.”
A 1995 Eagles draft pick is the player most often cited for an example of a team foolishly changing its draft board because of the combine: Philadelphia chose Mike Mamula seventh overall after he put on a great performance at the Combine, and Mamula’s name has become NFL shorthand for a workout warrior who never produced on the field in college or in the pros.
The reality is more complicated than that: Mamula was already a highly regarded prospect even before the 1995 Scouting Combine based on his performance on the field at Boston College. (Here’s a 1994 New York Times article that mentions NFL scouts being impressed after Mamula had two sacks and five tackles for loss against Syracuse.) And Mamula wasn’t as bad in the NFL as he’s sometimes made out to be; he was a starter for the Eagles for five years and recorded 31.5 career sacks.
But while the Mamula case isn’t all it’s been portrayed as, there are NFL teams who become so enamored with a player’s athleticism at the Combine that they overlook that player’s shortcomings on the field. Roseman vows the Eagles will not be one of those teams.