Some people live for it; some people despise it. Either way, the annual Scouting Combine will be held in Indianapolis this week, as numerous NFL hopefuls will showcase their skills for teams around the league.
Unless they won’t.
“We don’t know if some of these top quarterbacks are going to throw,” CBS Sports senior NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota – the top two quarterbacks in this class – they haven’t announced whether or not they will throw.”
That might be a wise choice. Then again, it might not be.
“Look at last year, for example,” Brugler said. “Blake Bortles out of Central Florida, he wasn’t as well known at this point last year. He goes to Indianapolis and says, ‘Hey, I’m going to do every drill.’ And next thing you know, he’s the top quarterback drafted last year. Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel – they declined to throw at the combine (and) waited until their pro day. Who knows if Blake Bortles would have been drafted later if he didn’t throw at the combine? We’ll never know. But the fact is, NFL teams love to see you go to to the combine and compete.”
They also love to see wide receivers and running backs post great times in the 40-yard dash and shuttle run, among other drills. Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is expected to run the fastest 40 this week. In fact, Brugler said there’s a chance Dorsett could catch, if not surpass, Chris Johnson’s 4.24 – still a combine record.
“There’s a good chance we see (Dorsett) in the 4.2s,” Brugler said. “He has that type of speed.”
And yet, the combine is about much more than drills.
“We talk about the 40-yard dash and all these testing and agility drills, but the combine is much more than that,” Brugler said. “We talk about the medical evaluation, the interview process. Take a player like Todd Gurley, for example.”
The Georgia product is hoping to become the first running back drafted in the first round since Trent Richardson in 2012. Unfortunately for Gurley, he tore his ACL last November.
“He’s not going to be doing any drills in Indianapolis this week, but it’s a big week for him because trainers will be able to look at that knee,” Brugler explained. “What’s the rehab process? How is it going? Is he still on pace to get back on the field in August? And if so, I still think there’s a great chance we see Todd Gurley come off the board somewhere in the first round.”
While Gurley has a valid excuse – he’s injured – is it necessarily a bad thing if a player chooses to not work out at the combine? Will NFL teams punish prospects for that?
“No, and it’s (a) case-by-case basis,” Brugler said. “Some of these kids are maybe not 100 percent healthy. There’s different reasons why they decide not to for some of these quarterbacks. It’s tough because they’re throwing to a whole different set of receivers. There’s chemistry (issues) there. So there’s different scenarios, different situations for each player. But there is something to be said (for guys who participate in the workouts). Teams love for the players (to) come to Indianapolis (and) say, ‘I’m going to do every single drill, and I don’t care what happens.’”
Case in point? Calvin Johnson. In 2007, he went to the combine but somehow didn’t bring his shoes. So he borrowed someone else’s – and then he ran a 4.3 in the 40.
“We know how great of a player he is in the NFL,” Brugler said.