The NFL Scouting Combine took place this past weekend, starting on Thursday and running through Sunday, and like the football junkie that I am, I sat down and watched damn near the whole thing. I absolutely love the combine but probably not for the reasons that you think.
Yes, I love watching the three-cone drill, the bench press and the broad jump but what I love most of all is watching the collection of pre-Civil War area aged coaches stare at the sundials in their hands because they trust their own eyes more than modern science.
What I am referring to, of course, is General Managers and scouts using their own personal stopwatches because they don’t trust thousands of dollars worth of equipment that has the sole purpose of telling you how fast someone ran in exactly 40 yards. It’s beautiful, almost brings a tear to my eye, because they are real football guys. I don’t want to live in world that doesn’t have some collection of men somewhere in their glasses with frames two times larger than needed a la Buddy Ryan that trusts their naked eye more than science. Those are the guys that also preach my football sayings like, “low man wins,” or “if you have two quarterbacks you don’t have one,” or my personal favorite “talk with your pads.”
OK, back to my original thought. The combine is awesome for many reasons but chief among them is it allows individuals from all across the country to measure their athleticism against other players who play the same positions as them.
There were six events that the NFL players competed in this week and each one serves its purpose. The three-cone drill tests an athlete’s ability to change direction which is paramount in most football positions, especially on defense. The shuttle run tests their lateral movement and the rest are fairly self-explanatory in the broad jump (how far), verticle jump (how high), 40-yard dash (how fast) and bench press (how strong).
The point of the combine is that it gives executives, scouts, owners, coaches, media and even the fans a numerical way to break down what they are seeing to help them make evaluations. However, at the combine, NFL teams are also able to sit down with certain players that interest them and get to know them. Find out what makes them tick, what drives them, how well they understand coverages. Sometimes they will bust out the film and go over previous and for some reason, someone always asks a question that is very inappropriate.
The reason I bring all of this up is that it is a good idea. That’s why they do it. Outside of just having concrete numbers on what each athlete is capable of doing, it makes it easy for every team to meet a large number of players without making 20 trips all over the country.
My point is, we need a North County combine, or even better, a combine for all of San Luis Obispo County. I spoke with a few football coaches in the area and they agreed it would be a good thing to have and could also help the players. I know in years past the Greyhounds hosted a combine, open to whomever, but it died out due to lack of participation.
One of the number things I have heard through years of living and working in the sports industry around here is that it is always difficult to get scouts and recruiters to the area. Many scouts from schools (especially out of state) send their recruiters to either the top or the bottom of California and they make their way through from the bottom up or vice versa. Imagine there was a Central Coast combine over the summer that all the school’s football teams competed in. It could be sold to colleges as a one-stop-shop for Central Coast talent.
Will many kids get signed from the combine? No, probably none, but it will get kids on radars which can lead to future discussion and potential signings. It will allow coaches and recruiters to talk to kids they never planned on speaking to because they saw something they liked and like they always say, it only takes one person to believe in you and to give you a shot. Not only that but all the players in the county will now have official, bona-fide times and measurements which can only help them going forward in the recruiting process.
Would the kids like it? Hell yes. Every athlete wants a chance to stack himself up against the best around. Who can bench 225 the most times in the county? Who has the fastest 40 time? I think, with the proper promotion and dedication it could turn into a big event that would help a large number of kids.
Think about it, every year at the combine there is one or two players that just absolutely dominate and all of sudden they go from a day three pick to a day one selection, that could happen in our own backyard and some kid could earn a scholarship.
Logistically, it could be difficult with all the passing league and weight lifting tournaments but you can’t tell me it wouldn’t be fun. Not only that it would give all the media in the area a chance to meet the kids they will be covering all year face-to-face, which, believe it or not, goes a long way in producing quality stories. Will it happen? I don’t know, I certainly don’t have the pull to start it but it’s something I think we, as a community, should consider. Throw in a couple of sponsors and the event could essentially pay for itself and in a few years maybe even generate revenue for the schools.