Five from the combine
5:35 PM Tue, Feb 26, 2008 | Permalink
The combine's over. So here's five things from there to chew on as we transition over to free agency, which starts on Thursday night ...
1) The Media
: There are a lot of us there, that's for sure. I don't want to throw anyone under the bus, but I'm always stunned by how little some of these people know about college football. I view following college football as part of my job (doesn't hurt that I like it every bit as much as the pro game), and although I wouldn't expect anyone to watch as much as I do, I think that you should at least have a rudimentary knowledge of it.
What's really glaring to me is that a guy like Matt Ryan or Darren McFadden even needs to be identified to these people, and that they would have their names screwed up by some. Those media folks? I question whether they really like football, or just the spectacle of the NFL. Just remember this when all these people become experts in April.
2) The Players
: Cliches rule the world! It's gotten to the point now where everyone in sports appears to be programmed. How many times you figure this conversation took place in the last few weeks.
: OK, now what are you going to say if they ask you what team you want to play for?
: It'd be an honor to play for any team.
This is why Colt Brennan was refreshing to listen to. He may have hurt his own cause in the process, but at least he was honest.
3) The Coaches
: Clearly, a large part of this week for those guys is social. You see them out everywhere in Indy. Shouldn't they be working? Well, think about it. The groundwork was laid for this week long ago. The workouts and interviews are during the day. The "wink-wink" meetings with agents that may/may not have prospective free agents take place under the cover of night, and in most cases, the GMs and not the coaches run those.
And since all of this - the interviews and the workouts - is put on tape, there's no need for a whole lot of analysis that needs to be done on site. To most coaches, the important workouts are those done on campus in March and April, and the big meetings are the ones with the 30 prospects that each team is allowed to host for an on-site visit. Thus, all the coaches have plenty of time for carousing. And carouse, they do.
4) The Meaning of It All
: I honestly believe that with the way all these performances are manufactured these days, two things have become more important at this event.
One, there's a tremendous amount of pressure on all the kids. So I'd think that all the team officials here like to see how players respond to that.
Two, since most prospects exhaustively prepare for this, I think those who coaches perceive to be "most prepared" for the event, regardless of their performance, will be seen in a positive light. It boils down, in the simplest sense, to proving you'll take your job seriously.
Yes, the performances and times and weights and all that stuff means something. For a kid that's battling perception that he's slow, a 4.4 40-yard dash can be a great elixir. The bench can do the same for a slight kid. But since so many of these guys' performances are right there with the next guy's, I think that the ability to handle pressure and prepare properly are aspects as important in team's eyes.
5) Covering It
: Someone suggested - let's just call him TT - that I let you all in on how this event is covered. It's actually very open-ended. In the Indiana Convention Center, there's a hallway you could drive a semi through that players and coaches use to get from the dome to the hotels. A lot of media is parked there for most of the event, and spends a lot of time picking team officials off. There's also the hotel lobbies at Westin, Marriott and Hyatt, all of which I staked out at one time or another.
Then, there's the actual media room, where I'm sure a lot of these guys would prefer we stay. That's where they bring players in to talk with us. And where the coaches have their formal press conferences. And where you've got your laptop set up. For me, and most people there, there's a lot of running from one place to another to another, and chasing team officials all over creation.
Tomorrow, we're going to have more general leftover NFL stuff from the combine, and we'll start to preview free agency. So, as always, keep it here and we'll keep it coming.