More coaches question the value of attending the Scouting Combine

NFL Combine
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It’s now a trend. How widespread it becomes remains to be seen.

Some coaching staffs have decided not to attend the Scouting Combine. For most casual observers, it’s a jarring revelation given the hype and focus devoted to the first of the league’s offseason tentpole events. If, after all, multiple coaching staffs are boycotting the festivities, maybe it’s not as big of a deal as Big Shield wants us to think it is.

Here’s the reality of the NFL’s offseason off-field reality show. Some have decided that their time is better spent working in the team facility for the week. They can spend the day doing multiple things, from making decisions about which of their own players they’ll keep to which free agents they’ll pursue to which incoming players they may want to try to add.

With the launch of the offseason program not very far away, some teams opt to focus on planning for the officially unofficial start of the next campaign in lieu of devoting an entire week to focusing on the next wave of new players.

The Combine started as a way to combine medical information, making it cheaper and more efficient to gather diagnostic information regarding players who emerge from their college football careers with lingering injuries. It has become, in many respects, a TV show for the league, a game of speed-dating when it comes to getting to know players, and a convention for the people who work in and around the game.

Making the Scouting Combine less meaningful to the coaching staffs is the fact that players train extensively and specifically for the various events of the Underwear Olympics, none of which are football. (As we say every year at this time, guys only run 40 yards in a straight line on a football field when something very good — or something very bad — is happening.) Players also have received so much advice and education on the interview process that it becomes impossible during quarter-hour chunks to pierce through the preparation and get through to the real man.

The league and the media machine around it won’t like this development. But coaches don’t keep their jobs because they play along with things that don’t contribute to the bottom line of winning games. Some coaches are deciding that skipping the Scouting Combine and staying home does.

For now, not enough teams are staying away to make it a major problem for the league. At some point, enough teams could take a pass to make the NFL ponder ways to keep the Combine as a viable slow-month moneymaker, including having 24 or more owners vote to make attendance by all coaching staffs mandatory.

57 responses to “More coaches question the value of attending the Scouting Combine

  1. They are correct in staying home and letting the real people in charge of collecting talent for the team do the legwork.coaches are meant to coach them up and make them good nfl players once the GM and execs draft them to become members of the team.good for the coaches to stay away and do more important things with their time.

  2. All this negativity about the combine and yet, I am still eagerly waiting for it to get going……I’m part of the problem.

  3. I’m still going. That they are not means less people in line to get seated at the restaurants. Cool.

  4. Move The Combine to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, this kind of talk will disappear. And damnit go all the way, let Michael Buffer kick it off.

  5. It’s one source of information among several. Take it for what it’s worth. Dropping out of gaining even the smallest amount of knowledge about prospects a team might draft is stupid.

  6. The Combine certainly can’t determine who can or can’t play at the NFL level. It’s most valuable contribution is giving all teams the same set of current, accurate measurable sto use when they are doing comparative analysis of prospects. Head coaches don’t need to be there for the measuring and timing.

  7. It`s not that the combine doesn`t have value but coaches that have nothing to do with the decision making have no reason to go. Most teams let their GM and scouting director make the decisions so those coaches aren`t doing anything valuable when their there.

  8. I used to watch the Combine fanatically, taking notes and such so when the draft came up I knew what player had a chance to do well in the system they were drafted. One day I turned on the draft and of course there was one of my favorites in Mike Mayock. Mike Mayock said something surprising as he was paid to evaluate college talent back then by the NFL Network. Mike Mayock stated that whenever you draft a player you have all the “tape” in the world to see what the player is about before you draft them. If a player is trouble off the field-he will be trouble in the pros. If a player has poor work habits in college-he will have poor work habits in the pros. Conversely if a player has good work habits and keeps his nose clean-that is the player you will get in the pros. Essentially the Combine is not needed (The last remark is mine)and therefore I have not watched the combine since that statement was made as it makes total sense.

  9. I really don’t understand the decision by the coaches. Granted, you’re not going to get some kind of comprehensive information. But it’s still a gathering of everyone in your profession. Just the networking alone can be beneficial. In my profession, I find that no matter how cynical I am about going to an event, or gathering, I usually learn something from someone. By the way, this is a money maker for the NFL so I consider the likelihood high that if enough teams do this, they will just make it mandatory and be done with it.

  10. I expect to see Mike Mayock back at the combine this week now that he no longer drafts players for an NFL team. Although he sure was fun to listen to on the tv.

  11. I figured somewhere in the article there would be a list of the staffs who question the value of the combine. From what I have read the HC of the packers isn’t going but sending other staff there, other than that I haven’t read much about other teams not finding any value in the combine. Frankly the packers are not very well run these days so I question their decisions in general.

  12. Atleast make them wear cleats, helmet, and pads. The one thing I’ll give Johnny manziel is he did his pro day in his gear

  13. It is clear that the height requirement frustrated the packers coaching staff from attending this year.

  14. The winning teams love the combine, but not for the reasons you might think. Let’s say a team like Pittsburgh needs a QB but isn’t sure they’ll be able to find an elite franchise QB at the #20 spot. This is where the combine comes in. The not so smart teams do ridiculous things like measure a QB’s hand size (Kenny Pickett), and then all the losing teams who also need QB’s, amazingly pass up Pickett, and he falls right into the Steelers lap. So, the draft is supposed to help the losing teams get better, sometimes it helps the good teams stay good. After all, losing teams are generally losing because they have trouble evaluating talent. So, the combine can have usefulness if you know what you’re doing, but it actually works in reverse if you don’t. Orlando Brown was another example. While watching tape you notice Brown is the strongest man on the field, but then he gets passed up by all the losing teams because he didn’t do well on the bench press at the combine and ends up on winning teams. The Ravens and Chiefs thought he was strong enough to play for their winning teams. I also remember Aaron Donald at the combine. Some teams wouldn’t even consider drafting him because he wasn’t big enough, even though he looked like a HOFer on tape. The bottom line is you should have your final grades in before the combine, and then it’s fine to go hang out at the bars in Indy for a week. Just don’t get drunk and start making decisions.

  15. Let’s not forget one of the main reasons HC’s and GM’s attend…it’s a place to forge thru the particulars of trades and make a deal face-to-face.

  16. Belichick never goes and he of course is the general manager too. With the draft results of the Patriots, it’s quite obvious that teams should participate and learn as much as possible from the combine

  17. Not our fault that coaches/gms/owners put too much stock in how players do in the combine.

  18. I don’t really think any network could put Mayock back out there to give his opinion about players after the decisions he made.

  19. Yea the combine is more of a ratings thing than a super valuable tool for player evaluation tape and pro days are more important BUT the idea that you don’t wanna go and poke and prod and see these guys do drills in person is absolutely absurd. I’m sure the teams that are historically the better drafting teams will still be going and watching everything.

  20. It’s interesting…the yearly routine of the combine seems to be wearing thin with coaches. Ok- So, let’s say they drop the combine. A year later you’ll hear from those same coaches that they’re not getting enough information about the prospects and will start clamoring for ‘individual workouts’. That is until someone has the grand idea to get all the draft prospects, coaches, and scouts in one place and save players and coaches time and money, instead of flying all over the country for those individual workouts. Brilliant!

  21. It should be about medical and mental/learning abilities of the players, nothing more. Pro days are better anyway.

  22. The Raiders will be going. How else will they know who to draft, if they don’t see the 40?

  23. Why do I have an image of the scout that Matthew McConaughey played in Eastbound and Down in my head?

    Combine also used to be a place where team staff and coaches could informally meet up and meet up with agents etc. Now that’s done with text messages and FaceTime if required. As for the social side, now with more league and nosy general public scrutiny, if they don’t show up for a day or roll in late one day after a night out drinking, it’s a bigger deal than showing up at all…so not worth the PR hassle.

  24. Logically,.. I think the teams scouts, coordinators and GM should be interested in being at the combine. These are the folks involved in setting up the teams big board of draft prospects. Being available to have a 15 min interview with kids you’re most interested in should be helpful too.

  25. The combine time has pass. Matlock was a disaster for the Raiders as GM put the franchise back atleast 3 years behind the 8 ball, that McDaniels have to restore.

  26. I’d wager a lot of this is coming from the analytics department. It’s not a good use of time considering the very little information a coach “might” glean from watching a guy bench 225 for reps.

    In fact, most of these drills are virtually useless in assessing football talent.

  27. charliecharger says:
    February 26, 2023 at 1:25 pm
    The winning teams love the combine, but not for the reasons you might think. Let’s say a team like Pittsburgh needs a QB but isn’t sure they’ll be able to find an elite franchise QB at the #20 spot. This is where the combine comes in. The not so smart teams do ridiculous things like measure a QB’s hand size (Kenny Pickett), and then all the losing teams who also need QB’s, amazingly pass up Pickett, and he falls right into the Steelers lap.
    And Kenny Pick off was horrible.

  28. Chris Jones moved around like a top 5 pick at the ’16 combine. He went in the 2nd round. I’d love to go to the combine.

  29. The only player related reason to go is to get face time with potential draftees. Especially if you have two players rated evenly.

  30. Many of the teams are going through major changes as ownership, general managers, head coaches, bringing in asst position coaches, new playbook systems, players, getting to know existing player/skills, positional changes, what players, are needed via draft/trades, just to name a few challenges that take time. Sending your scouts are your best plan and they can also test other teams 0trading interests.

  31. Best purpose of the Combine is seeing how seriously players work in the off-season, when its up to themselves to improve. Says a lot about a player if they have a weak combine on the stuff they can prepare for.

  32. The speed times for players not in pads, uniform and helmet are rather useless. The Wonderlic was useful, but doesn’t complete the picture.

  33. I don’t see much need for coaches to attend (or fans to watch), but that doesn’t mean the Combine is useless. The “medical and measurables” stuff has its value to those who should be there, scouts and player development personnel.

  34. Back a few years ago,.. the combine week was almost as well known for the conversations, meetings, and deals being made by GM’s and Agents.

  35. Remember when Zach Wilson made that epic combine throw, running to his left and throwing it 50 yards to the right, they said he’s the next Patrick Mahomes, good times, good times , LOL the combine

  36. It’s very simple. If the combines served a purpose, then the NFL should hit 80% on the 1st 2 rounds. Do they? No. they’re either asking the wrong questions by not gleaming the right info or they’re idiots.

    The fact that Indianapolis couldn’t decided between Manning or Ryan Leaf until the last minute …

  37. If i was an owner they’d sure find the value of learning about the players and being asked for there opinions or else your fired . Players are lazy now the coaches are even lazier do your job the GM’s
    need to lay down the law.

  38. So what benefit is a QB throwing in a Tee and shorts and no pads to a receiver with no coverage and no pass rush? Exactly NONE, it’s nothing more than a dog & pony show for the NFL to try and milk more money out of the fans! I’ve been saying that since day one and I’ve never watched the Combine or any players Pro Day, give me the game tape, that tells me everything I need to know and I only want the game tape against their best opponets not the weak ones as they don’t mean much either.

  39. Combine is overhyped no doubt. But it’s equally debatable that spending that week at the team facility is particularly productive. Why not compromise and send just part of the staff? So much of the NFL is busy work where guys put in countless hours just because.

  40. belkin says:
    February 26, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    It’s very simple. If the combines served a purpose, then the NFL should hit 80% on the 1st 2 rounds. Do they? No. they’re either asking the wrong questions by not gleaming the right info or they’re idiots.

    That would be true if this was an individual sport like tennis or golf. It isn’t. Much of a player’s career depends on the team around him, the scheme he is in, and the organization that drafted him. If Tom Brady had been picked by a different organization he might have been out of the league after seven years or had a career like Phillip Rivers.

  41. My first thought was are they nuts, but when you have guys who put off the combine or just show up to take but not perform it makes its really an insult to the coaching staffs who took the time to be there.
    1. They can watch this on tv too and tape it.
    2. They dont need to show up for special performances if they don’t have an early pick in the first.
    3. They have special access to game films.
    4. They have agents and special access to performance stats.

    PS Some of these guys are putting it off a month or so to get in better shape too. KInd of unfair to those that show up

  42. dejadoh says:
    February 26, 2023 at 8:33 pm
    The speed times for players not in pads, uniform and helmet are rather useless. The Wonderlic was useful, but doesn’t complete the picture.

    The Wonderlic was a great tool that many a GM used to evalutate if a player could be coached to not make mistakes. I know the Vikes used it as a critical determining factor. They are the least penalized team in football year in year out by picking smart guys who dont make a lot of mental mistakes. That is all gone now. Too many morons being drafted.

  43. Sure, let the coaching staff stay home to play their video games. Bill Belichick would love this initiative.

  44. You’ve made a good case for not going to the combine, especially that the potential draftees are so well prepared that you learn nothing from interviews, that I’m tempted to ask why the media, yourselves included, bother going.

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