Is throwing at the Scouting Combine “competition”?


As NFL Network launched its coverage of the Scouting Combine’s Saturday workouts, the broadcasting operation that depends on incoming rookies choosing to fully participate in the workouts offered up, via its primary draft analyst, an editorial on the decision of former USC quarterback Sam Darnold to not throw.

Mike Mayock criticized the decision as a reluctance to compete.

“They want competitors,” Mayock said, referring to NFL coaches and executives. “That kid ought to want to get up before or after [Josh] Rosen, Lamar Jackson, all those guys, and show I’m as good if not better. . . . You ought to want to burr up and compete. And it just bothers me a little bit that he ought to override his trainer or override his agent or override his parents — whoever’s telling him not to throw — he should say ‘I’m a competitor, and I want to throw.’”

Mayock also acknowledged that the decision won’t affect Darnold’s draft grade. So if that’s the case, and if the Scouting Combine is truly a competition, there’s nothing for anyone to actually win.

Of course, there’s plenty to lose. Every workout as part of this extended job interview/audition presents another opportunity for a player to get injured, which definitely would affect his draft grade. So if a guy chooses not to participate in the Scouting Combine, he shouldn’t be criticized at all, not even with any of the caveats or wiggle room Mayock added to his assessment.

Ultimately, it bugs those who fully embrace the mostly meaningless pre-draft workouts because it provides them less of what they want, especially when it comes to filling up the allotted TV time. The fact that we never hear anyone from the Draft Industrial Media Complex criticize the decision of players to refuse to participate in the much more valuable private workouts proves this dynamic. No one from the media complains about the lack of private workouts because, unlike the Scouting Combine and Pro Day workouts, the media doesn’t get to see the private workouts.

No, the Scouting Combine isn’t a competition. It’s a job qualification system for an inherently unsafe job with an audition process that entails a degree of physical risk. It’s like telling a prospective coal miner to go 3,000 feet underground with a pick and a shovel for a week or two, for free, so that the boss can decide how well the potential miner can mine coal.

If anyone chooses not to participate in any, some, or all of the pre-draft activities and if a given team chooses not to draft pick because of it, that team can then worry about that player ending up playing football with a competitor.

11 responses to “Is throwing at the Scouting Combine “competition”?

  1. “It’s like telling a prospective coal miner to go 3,000 feet underground with a pick and a shovel for a week or two, for free, so that the boss can decide how well the potential miner can mine coal.”

    And at the end, even if this coal minor is the worst coal minor of all the coal minors in the coal minor union, he will end up with a contract that pays him upwards of $400,000.00 when he is the least talented. If he shows the most potential to mine coal for the boss man, he can get himself in a few short years, before the coal minor is even 30 years old, a contract upwards of $100,000,000.00.

    Not too much to ask now that you look at it. Someone give me a pick.

  2. Throwing at the combine doesn’t prove anything. There’s no defense and all the receivers run the same route down the field. I don’t see how that’s shows anything about how a quarterback will handle real game situations. Personally, I think, other than the interviews, most of the combine is a waste of time. My Bengals took John Ross last year because he ran fast in a straight line and look how well that turned out.

  3. I don’t see the value in throwing at the combine. The pro day is more conducive to success. You’re not going to jump into an NFL game with guys you’ve never thrown to before. You’ve developed timing in practice and training camp etc.
    But they want to measure guys throwing to other guys they’ve never thrown to before. The timing is simply not there and it’s somewhat unfair to expect these guys to throw with precision.
    Not sure what the solution is. Maybe targets like at the skills challenge during Pro Bowl week? I don’t know.

  4. Mayock..Get off the fence…you know real evaluators put very little credence on the Underwear Olympics….Tommy John should be the official sponsor….

  5. You make it seem like you can’t improve your draft position by participating in drills. Yet every year a bunch of players vault up the draft board due to their showing at the combine.

  6. Florio is right. It’s the TV people who benefit from more events. The NFL talent evaluators will be in the unemployment line real soon if they take any of this combine stuff too seriously. I heard Lamar Jackson’s mother is going to be his manager. Well it seems she’s figured out this stuff pretty quickly. There’s plenty of tape on Lamar Jackson. That’s what’s going to decide where he gets drafted. Guys like Ryan Leaf, Jamarcus Russell, and Jeff George, blew everyone away at these “competitions”. Guys like Joe Montana were very unimpressive. I’ll leave it at that.

  7. If the TV people really want to help ratings by putting on “competitions”, I have a better idea. I think fans would like it too. The serious fans, the ones who watch the combine stuff, have already seen what these guys can do on the football field. Why not have 5 on 5 basketball games between WR’s and DB’s? Have putting competition between QB’s. Go out to the driving range and have long drive competitions for the linemen. Maybe have Go-Cart races for the RB’s. Maybe have an open division 3 point contest.

  8. I STRONGLY disagree with any poster who says the combine is NOT important, for reasons other than what most posters here have mentioned.

    It’s true scouts don’t care that much about the end results, i,.e. a QB completing a high percentage of his combine throws.

    What they do care about are the other things, the intangibles. How does the player do in team interviews? How does he conduct himself in downtime between interviews/drills? If a player wasn’t good at a particular aspect (such as a RB catching the ball), they want to see that the player has worked on that skill which shows professionalism.

    But they also care about on-field performance, too.

    While scouts may not care if Lamar Jackson completes a high percentage of passes to WRs he’s never thrown to, they DO care about how his footwork looks as he does his pseudo-drops (he never took snaps under center in college). They care about how the QBs mechanics look when he throws it, how the ball looks coming off his hand, how the guys on the field respond to him/his leadership skills, etc.

    College tape is great and very important to scouting, but it’s not the be-all, end-all for scouting. There’s a wide discrepency in talent between teams in the vast majority of college games.The combine is scouts’ first real chance to see how NFL prospects stack-up against other NFL prospects, as opposed to see how they performed against inferior college players.

  9. Yeah. The combine is just a useless evaluation for NFL Network. That’s why all the coaches show up and take notes. Who needs to know how these guys react out of their comfort zone to go through their pro day as a security blanket. I’ll just as easily say why should a QB decide not to throw if it doesn’t matter in the long run…

  10. Who says there has to be a prize for there to be competition? If there needs to be a prize to make competition worth wild then the video gaming industry wouldnt exist. The majority of what people compete at doesnt have a prize at the end.

    Winning is the reward, and true competitors would take any opportunity they can get to add another win to their record.

    Darnold is worst of the big 6 QBs in this draft.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!