The NFL Combine will unfold at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this week, with all 32 teams meeting and scouting 300+ prospects who will take part in drills and activities.
But just how useful, really, is this annual exercise? How important is it in terms of making or breaking a prospect’s NFL future?
As it turns out, very.
“It’s nothing but a huge, huge positive,” former NFL general manager Steve Ortmayer said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “In my time as a GM, I considered the most important day in your football annual life the day you play the Super Bowl. I think the second-most important day in your life is draft day, and the third-most important day in your life is Combine day. I came from personnel. Obviously the organization I was with most of my time, the Raiders, is a personnel organization – or was with Al (Davis). When you’re at the Combine, it gives you an opportunity to go to the field. You don’t have to sit in the stands if you don’t want to. You can go to the field and get a feel for what’s happening with a player on the field. You can be standing right there beside the drill. Because the most important aspect in all of personnel judgment, I believe, is the fact that you need to be able to feel a player’s explosion. You need to be able to feel his separation, and if you’re standing right there with him, it gives you so much better perspective than you get on film. Film is no substitute for being able to experience a player doing something.”
Ortmayer, who won a Super Bowl with the Raiders in 1984, believes the Combine also reveals a prospect’s personality and mental makeup.
“If you’ve prepared yourself well with the questions that you ask a player, you can get very good insight into exactly who he is and who he would be as a team member – whether or not he’s a me-guy or whether or not he’s a team-guy,” Ortmayer said. “If you phrase things right and go after these guys in the right way – and you have every opportunity – (it can be beneficial). The Combine is unbelievably invaluable to a personnel evaluator. If you ask the right questions, you’re going to get the right answers or you’re going to get a good feel for it.”