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Mailbag: How Much Help Does the Combine Provide?


With the Scouting Combine kicking off today, I'm continuously amazed at how the league has built this into such a major event. And I'm not complaining, but how much do the teams really get out of it? I would think the scouting work done during the season and the available game films is far more important. And with the schools also hosting their own Pro Days, can't the same information be collected there? – Rick Willis/St. Louis, MO

Nick: I think the answer to that question varies depending on the person fielding it. Also, it probably depends on how in-depth that specific person goes at the combine. If they're a coach or scout who sits in the stands and watches from afar and could get all of the information after the fact, then you're right, it's not that helpful. But if they're someone who likes to visit with the players specifically and asks a few questions on some topics for clarity, then it becomes very helpful. And the biggest part of the combine is usually from the medical side as team doctors and trainers get the chance to see for themselves where these players are health-wise. A lot of injury information usually comes out of the combine tests. So all in all, it's probably helpful to the ones that are really going to gain information. 

Kurt: The "Underwear Olympics" has become quite the spectacle, hasn't it? Of course, what takes place in the fall is far more important, as seeing what these young players can do in actual games has to be the meat and potatoes of this whole scouting process. Nothing tops that. The Scouting Combine is an important piece of the puzzle, however, perhaps the most valuable aspects of it come off the field. Sure, there is something to be gained with not having to worry about the discrepancies that might come from the various Pro Days when measuring and timing all those workouts, but the real significance is found in the medical reports as well as in the time teams spend interviewing the players. Getting to know an incoming rookie on a little more personal level can help a club determine if he's a good fit for its organization. While this all provides one-stop shopping, so to speak, the Pro Days serve a key purpose as well. Only 319 players were invited to this year's combine, meaning attending those Pro Days allows many more potential prospects to be seen and talked to, both from the hosting university and neighboring smaller colleges. Again, another important piece of the overall scouting puzzle.

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