It has been a few years now that I have followed the NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL Draft devoutly and I have to scratch my head and wonder about some things. I will start off with the Combine. Some of the opinions I express may have been brought up elsewhere, however it is part of the overall package to re-express some of that. After the discussing the combine I will move on to the Draft.
The first thing that comes to mind is that the combine is always in Indianapolis. Why is this? Would it not be more fair to have it at a neutral site, somewhere that has a variety of conditions for players to deal with. Why would the NFL not be able to build a combine facility that they could lease out when they are not using it. Now you may ask what type of facility I am talking about. For one thing it would not need to be so big as a football stadium. Lets face it they only use about half the field at the combine and they certainly don't need all of those seats. What kind of equipment might this place have. Well for one thing they could have a real weight room and see what other types of strength a player has besides bench reps. Squats or leg presses would be a start. How about a better 40 yard dash system? Maybe one that is more consistent. In fact how come they don't do 10 and 20 yard dashes? Would that not be much more important for a lineman then 40 yard times? Why don't they do drills where players have to make reads instead of some set drill where they player does not have to anticipate or react. Why not have DB's go up against WR's mano y mano. In fact how come the opposing positions are not doing that across the board? OL vs DL, QB's throwing to WR's and TE's while DB's and S defend. Its not like you have to go full contact. Lineman may have to bang a bit but I doubt if any real lineman would mind that. Why not have LB's making reads and trying to "tag" RB's. Even a flag football type of system or no contact rules would give us better evaluations of on the field talent. And for the love of football, why are these guys not in full pads? We could even take it further and have half of the field natural grass and the other half field turf. Why not use the air conditioning to make them throw in the cold? Heck why not even have a rain simulator and a wind machine? My point is this. The combine is a joke, it is a bunch of football guys trying to evaluate players at a track meet. Lets make it real already. While we are at it, why don't we schedule two combines. One early for the guys ready to go, and one later for the injured guys or guys that want to redo a drill. On the topic of who is going to the combine, who is inviting these guys anyways? Why not have the NFL teams submit a list of names of players that they want to see. 32 teams, each team submits 10 names, 320 players. Naturally you would have to come up with a system of how to do this since many teams would select the same players. I guess a good system would be for them to submit the 10 names and then say after all that is tallied you only have 160 players, great everyone submits 5 more names, and just keep going that way until you get to 320. Let the guys that are submitted with the final ballots to attend too, so you might end up with 400 players or so.
Now on to the draft. This year we are extending it to a 3 day event. Day one round one, day two round two and three, and day three is rounds four through seven. Why not change the format a bit to make it more interesting for the fans? The truth is, for a real NFL fan we sit here during the off season going crazy waiting for some action. Is it really necessary to wait until April 22nd? I would think sitting here at March 23rd most teams know what they want and where they are going to go in round one. Why not host the round one day on March 22nd. Heck teams only have to scout a handful of players for round one. I know people are going to talk about pro days, but that is silly. The combine, free agency, and pro days all seem like they can happen faster to me. Maybe it is just because I am a fan and not a general manager or coach trying to evaluate all of these players. Here is my logic in compacting this stuff. After round one day one take a one week break! Yes let the teams reevaluate and come back for rounds two and three one week later. Then take another week break and finish the draft! from a fans perspective this would be pretty sweet. It would generate a lot more excitement and give us things to experience that mattered to us much sooner in the off season. Maybe I am just trying to squeeze too much into too little of a time window. I am just throwing out ideas that I feel would improve the quality of the off season for both the NFL and the fans.