A few things I learned from the 2012 Scouting Combine:
– The price of obtaining Robert Griffin III rose dramatically
After several outlets speculated that Griffin would perform well in the combine, he came out and exceeded what everyone envisioned. He measured in taller than what was projected, while interviewed exceptionally. He seems genuinely interested in being a terrific professional athlete while attempting to prove any “experts” wrong along the way. He had received praise from several former teammates, which only helps his case as well. Having his blazing 40 time of 4.41 did not hurt his chances either; there have been reports of teams willing to trade up several top draft picks for Griffin.
– The Browns are exhausting all possible options on offense
Thankfully, it has come to light that Cleveland interviewed as many combine athletes as possible. This includes several offensive lineman (i.e. Mike Adams and Cordy Glenn) and wide receivers (i.e. Kendall Wright and Michael Floyd) earlier in the week – two of the areas in dire need of upgrading. Interviewing Griffin III is a given, as not only does the team have interest, but they must not tip their hand should they choose another route for their quarterback of the future.
Outside of the defensive ends’ performances, not much was reported to fans
The defensive lines (ends) were and should be given a deep look by the Browns front office. The team is one final piece from being pretty good in the trenches on that side of the ball. Being one of the slower franchises in the league, the team must improve their overall speed. Fortunately several defensive linemen (i.e. Melvin Ingram, Whitney Mercilus, and Nick Perry) ran extremely fast at the combine. Coupling this with game film should give the Browns some pretty good options for a defensive end opposite of Jabbal Sheard.
– Tom Heckert’s absence was completely overblown
The illness (which was later confirmed to be heart surgery after much prodding by the media) that struck the Browns’ general manager was written and spoken about (it seems like) nonstop last week by many different outlets. It was extremely unfortunate Heckert was not able to be there, however some people are implying this will lead to a disastrous offseason for the team which is a huge overreaction. I have all the faith in the world that Holmgren, Shurmur, and other Browns personnel (and coaching staff) took the necessary notes and observations during the week.
In his post-season interview in January, Heckert stated his draft board was pretty much set for the April draft and only a few tweaks would occur in the coming months. Therefore, the combine would not shake up his thought process to a point where his philosophy would alter and different draft selections would occur. Also, it has been noted that Skype was used during interviews so the general manager would still have a chance to meet the prospects during the week.
– The combine is meant for lower round picks
This point should come to no surprise to rabid NFL fans; it has come very apparent when looking at the top players (according to the experts). Athletes like Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III, and Andrew Luck did not fully participate in the combine and will be on display at their pro days next month. Therefore, scouts should take as much from these displays (like size and personality) but they must also spend a majority of their time with athletes who project from late first round to possible undrafted picks.
This will come in handy in April for two reasons – breaking ties between multiple options and finding the correct value of players. General managers will remember the impression one young man made (in February) over the other when making the tough selections during the draft. Front offices typically peg players for a section of the draft they should be selected (i.e. fourth round). Using the combine, a team can come away with a different value then a majority of the teams, which can be a positive or negative. Perhaps other teams see this fourth rounder as a fifth or sixth, where the original team is able to select him – and is hopefully rewarded. Likewise, a team could see something disturbing that would cause a player’s value to be lower in their eyes than most. This would help avoid wasting selections on athletes who may not be the best man for the job. As fans, we can only hope the front office and coaching staff spend time with the “right” guys who will improve the team over a long period.
– Bernie Kosar’s role with the team is a good thing
I’m very excited with the notion that the former quarterback in the 1980s and 1990s will be a scout for the NFL franchise he spent most of his professional career. The cerebral play caller is extremely knowledgeable about football and knows what it takes to compete in the league. Also, he should have a good grasp of what to look for in a quarterback, as Bernie was a very good player who had the mental capacity, physical abilities, and love of the game to sustain a long, productive career. Also, another brain in the organization is definitely something this franchise could use.