Answer Bob – The Combine

The questions were good; I hope the answers are the same. Here’s what I had to say about questions that came in post-NFL Combine. I hope they are educational and illuminating, and at the lease coherent.

Here we go.

Mad Chief says: “Which player(s) struck you the most as having the “total package” (i.e. skills, intelligence, demeanor, etc.) And thanks again for your coverage, Bob. It was outstanding!

Bob Says: Thanks for your kind words. It’s tough to answer your questions because we don’t really et a chance to see but the surface on these guys. But I will say that the likes of Eric Berry, Myron Rolle, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Gerald McCoy, Joe Haden, C.J. Spiller, Brian Price, Sean Weatherspoon and Tim Tebow were very impressive in how they handled themselves with the media. All are physically gifted and had great college careers and would have to fall in the category of the “total package.”

David says: Would you post your Chiefs picks for the forthcoming draft, post combine? Thanks.

Bob says: David, I think it’s really too early to make any kind of intelligent guess on the Chiefs and where they may go with the first-round pick or the second-round choices that they own right now. But, put a post to my head and make me guess and I would say: Eric Berry in the first round, and in the second round DT Brian Price of UCLA and WR Damian Williams of Southern Cal. Let me assure you that if asked the question tomorrow, I might have three other selections.

KC_Guy says: How do teams value a healthy player being present, but not working out? Combine value overall declining or more focused on mid- to late-round prospects? Lots of potential 1st/2nd-rounders not working out (esp. QB) One player question: Taylor Mays: S or LB?

Bob says: Teams have varying attitude about healthy players who won’t workout, or won’t run, or won’t lift. Scott Pioli admitted that in his mind he downgrades healthy players who don’t participate on the field. Most teams moan and groan about it, but when it comes to making a pick on draft day, I don’t think it really matters to most decision makers. I think the Combine helps the mid-round talents; generally there are about 20 to 25 obvious first round picks on the draft boards of most teams. From there, things start bunching up and the differences between a guy with a third-round grade and a guy with a fifth-round grade are splitting the hairs on the back of a flea. I think anything the players in that group can do to attract attention is important. As for Mays, I’d move him to linebacker with his size and speed. He’s far more of a hitter than a coverage guy at safety. He would probably be better suited on the second level than the back line.

Blake says: What did you think of Rolando McClain? What do you think the chances are of the Chiefs taking a LT in round one? What do they think of Albert, he looked good at the end of the year but are they going to keep him at LT?

Bob says: I realize that I didn’t mention much about McClain from Indy. Very impressive young man when you watch him handle the media. He speaks clearly and with conviction, was not bothered at all in dealing with the process. He’s coming out of the Nick Saban defense and that’s always going to get teams like the Chiefs excited. If Pioli can make a deal and move out of No. 5 to say … No. 10, McClain would be perfect for a ticket to Kansas City. Selecting him at No. 5 would be a reach, but Pioli showed last year that he’s willing to do that when he grabbed DE Tyson Jackson.

Jake says: Any bruiser RBs that looked like they could be a good partner for Jamaal Charles? Also, what single position above all others do you think the Chiefs need to address this draft/off-season?

Bob says: As far as big backs there is only a handful considered draftable. Let’s start with Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon (6-1,245 pounds), Toby Gerhart of Stanford (6-1, 235), LSU’s Charles Scott (6-0, 239) and Oregon’s LaGarrette Blount (6-1, 245).

As to the single position I think the Chiefs need to address, that would be inside linebacker. The Chiefs must improve their defense, especially their run defense and if they can’t find a big bouncer in the middle who can shut down the A gaps and flow to the B and C gaps then there’s going to be constant problems in handing the opponent’s run game.

El cid says: Of all the players at the combine, were there any surprises, at what position, and would the Chiefs have an interest? Did you see any sparks of interest by the Chiefs at any given positions (no names in case someone else is reading this)? Did you notice what the Chiefs were doing during any give exercise that may indicate special interest?

Bob says: Unfortunately, they do not allow the media to get close enough to anything there, especially the workouts and the club employees to really tell anything. All I can tell you is Todd Haley thinks there are a lot of good players in this draft; whether more than normal I’m not sure.

PnS says: Great job as always. Would you list positions that need filling starting with now, to ones we can wait while they take time to develop. Do you feel that 1st yr players should at least show signs (wow factor) while learning their position? Still waiting on the wow from some players drafted lately. I read your report of what some scouts said of Jackson, did they have a player that we should have drafted at 3?

Bob says: I think there are too many spots the Chiefs must fill, not only now but for the future, that it’s impossible to break them down as to instant fix and development fix. On offense they need a wide receiver (possibly two), a pass catching tight end, a right tackle, a right guard, a center, a fullback and another halfback. On defense they need a nose tackle, two inside linebackers, one outside linebacker, another cornerback and two safeties. On special teams they need a returner. That’s 15 spots. Not all of those will be filled to satisfaction in 2010. But if it was up to me I would get a wide receiver, a guard, another halfback, a tight end, two inside linebackers and a safety this year.

I think any first year player who gets playing time should somewhere in that rookie season show the skills that earned them a spot on the roster. That’s easier at some positions than others, but there needs to be something that shows ability. You are right – there hasn’t been a lot of wow factor in recent Chiefs draft choices in their rookie year.

Most people around the league thought the Chiefs should have selected LB Aaron Curry, Virginia OT Eugene Monroe or DT B.J. Raji out of Boston College. In the hindsight provided by a rookie year of performance, they probably should have grabbed LB Brian Cushing out of Southern Cal who went to Houston with the 15th selection.

 ThunderChief says: How many times have we heard the Combine is yet another piece of the puzzle, part of the process and that game tape of a player is far more important than anything learned from Combine workouts. Well SOMETHING(s) must be learned beyond the socializing and guffaws exchanged by NFL coaches/GMs/Scouts/owners. What is that main ‘something learned’ about a player that causes hundreds of folks to show up every year in Indy about this time?

Bob says: For many of the decision makers in the draft process (GMs, coaches) the Combine is one of the few times they get to eyeball these guys up close and personal. Some of that happens at the all-star games, but not to the extent of the way it goes down in Indy. Plus, there are the medical exams which are crucial in the evaluation of players by every team. There’s also the interview process which provides keys to personality and the like, as does the intelligence and personality testing that are done there as well.

Most NFL types look upon the Combine as an important piece of the puzzle. Those that say it isn’t are missing the boat; those that put too much emphasis on some of the things that come out of the Combine (like 40-yard time and bench press) are overreacting. There’s no question it probably draws more attention than it deserves, but the same could be said for the Draft. The NFL is very good at creating events out of moments where nothing really happens.

SG says: For the time period of the NFL Combine, what would be your suggestions for fans as to how they could achieve the best direct access to current coaches, current players or prospective players – either at official events or unofficially? Another question: do you have any names you can drop of players we should be rooting for to drop to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th round (sleepers) based on what you saw in Indy? Any of those players that you mentioned from your morning article who did not attend the Combine who might be targeted by the Chiefs (of particular curiosity is Freddie Barnes)?

Bob says: You can forget current coaches for the most part, especially those with a say so in the NFL Draft. They’ll be tied up with meeting after meeting, workout after workout, until April. Otherwise, keep your eyes and ears on all types of media for personal appearances by current and possibly future players. They will pop up at charity events or autograph sessions on a regular basis.

As for droppers into the middle rounds, I think Florida State safety Myron Rolle could be one of those guys. Also, Texas WR Jordan Shipley and Oklahoma State CB Perrish Cox. Both would bring speed to the roster.

When it comes to the non-Combine players that the Chiefs might be interested in, that’s impossible to tell at this point. I would bet there are 50-plus non-Combine players that the Chiefs have investigated over the last few months.

Gorillafan says: Given the “hype” of the draft by today’s media, does it live up to all the “hype” when you are there in person? Overrated? Underrated?

Bob says: Overrated. There’s no question the NFL Draft is the most watched and followed non-athletic event in the country. All that attention and money lavished on young men who have not achieved a thing in professional football. The Draft is an important part of building any NFL team, but the idea of doing it just through this selection process doesn’t work anymore. Every avenue needs to be exploited to build a team.

TimR says: Who might some possibilities be for a WR/DB with legit return ability round 3 & later? Seems Jacoby Ford would be a very interesting prospect for us, but don’t know if he would be there in round 3. If we took Berry in round 1, does he have return capability?

Bob says: If a player can return interceptions, he can return punts, and Berry did a great job returning interceptions. Jacoby Ford right now looks like a late third, early fourth-round pick. That could change and if it does Ford’s likely to go up on draft boards. Shipley out of Texas is a late second-early third type pick that has plenty of returning experience.

jimbo says: from your combine reporting, I was under the impression that you spent after hours time with some NFL Scouts. We all know what scouts do… or do we? Could you enlighten us as to their specific duties & things we wouldn’t know about their jobs in general? Would you invite these guys over for a BBQ, if you know what I mean?

Bob says: Jimbo, some of the best people in the world of football are scouts and I’d have them over to the house at anytime for any function. There’s every type of personality in the scouting ranks, from guys that run the streets and drink too much, to those guys that will drive 500 miles between stops at colleges to see their daughter play a basketball game.

The Combine is actually a nice place to talk with the field scouts because most of their work has been done already. During the college season, these guys work countless hours, most of it on the road, living in motel rooms, working out of cars, running to catch flights here and there, spending all day at the school looking at tape, talking to everyone from the janitor to the head coach, watching practice (if allowed) and then heading back to the motel, typing all this up for reports and planning for the next day’s visit.

Colby says: Three questions for you – Pioli has a famous history of drafting developmental QBs in the late rounds. Brady and Cassel were his success stories and technically, Edelman last year was a QB in college. Davey and Kingsbury were misses. Any QBs at the combine that might if the profile of a guy that Pioli would draft late and try to develop? Bob says: Edelman was not Pioli’s, since he was gone before they decided on grabbing him. I would not be surprised by a late round QB, but there are so many other spots that need bodies, he may pass this year. If Croyle returns, I think they push off a QB until next year.

2. Also Pioli has a history of drafting TEs. Graham and Watson were 1st rounders. He drafted a TE practically every year with the Pats and he said KC needs to get better at that spot. Any TEs out there that fit the profile of what Pioli and Haley want? Bob says: Pioli traded back into the seventh round last year to grab TE Jake O’Connell. There’s no question the Chiefs need a pass catching TE, and I could see them drafting one, but not in the first round.

3. This group LOVES to bring in their own guys. Outside of Clausen and Tate, are there any Notre Dame players that we might take a shot at in the later rounds? Bob says: There are two offensive linemen from the Fighting Irish that could draw some attraction for the Chiefs – T Sam Young (6-8, 305) and C Eric Olsen (6-4, 310).

DonW says: Bob, you had written in an earlier piece that the games now begin about possible draft choices. i.e. misdirection, misinformation, feigned disinterest, etc. Could the QB signing be a possible feint about that position and the Chiefs are looking seriously at a QB in the draft? OK, about the combine: what/who were the biggest – surprises, disappointments, moves up the draft chart, moves down the draft chart, mismatches between game tape and combine performance – in both directions – good game tape, poor combine; good combine, poor game tape? Thanks for all you do for us.

Bob says: No, I think signing Tyler Palko has nothing to do with anything but having a fourth arm in the building and three quarterbacks under contract. Brodie Croyle cannot participate in any off-season work until he signs his tender offer or a new contract offered by the Chiefs. It’s hard to believe that Croyle might not take part in the off-season program given the presence of a new coordinator in Charlie Weis. I just can’t see the Chiefs with all the holes they have, and their belief in Matt Cassel, using an early draft choice on a quarterback (anything higher than the fifth round).

As for the questions about the Combine, I really can’t answer those with any type of honest information since the workouts are off-limits to the media. I could throw a bunch of names out, but they wouldn’t have any basis in fact as I know it. One player who I know had some scouts scratching their heads was Southern Cal safety Taylor Mays. He’s a top-flight athlete, but his game tape does not show him to be a top of the draft player.

aPacificChief says: Many scouts believe that this draft is one of the deepest drafts in recent years. If I remember correctly that was one of the reasons why Pioli agreed upon Atlanta’s 2nd in 2010, even when he traded Gonzo in time for the 2009 draft. My question then is how high in your opinion are the probability that we trade down in the 1st round (if the opportunity presents itself), especially if a true value pick is sitting there for us like an Eric Berry. Does Pioli also have a history of trading back into the 1st round? Or will he stay pat with the two 2nd round selections? Also, is trading down a tool best used by teams who already have a strong core group to build upon, or for teams doing a complete overhaul? Do you think the Chiefs are interested in a player like Linval Joseph or is he too tall (6-4) to play NG for us? Most of the notable NG’s in the NFL stand at about 6-2.

Thanks Bob for taking the time for us fans.

Bob says: I think if Pioli can get an offer to pick up extra quality choices by moving down a few spots, he will jump at the chance. The Chiefs have so many holes that it would be silly for them to zero in on one position. That gives them a great ability to be flexible, move down a few spots and still get the player they want. Trading out of the top five has been tough in the last few years, as most teams do not want to jump up and pay the big dollars of those top five contracts. Right now the Chiefs have three of the top 50 picks. I think it’s important for them to keep themselves 50 and above, but where those choices come isn’t as important. I would expect the Chiefs will investigate any and all trade possibilities.

As for Joseph, he came out of the Combine measured at 6-6, 322 pounds. I haven’t had a chance to investigate Joseph so I’ll take the fifth at this time. But if he’s big and can hold the fort in two gaps, he could be 7-foot and he’s be a great nose tackle.

Vincent says: Who/what committee determines what events will be at the combine? I would like to see leg press for example. Is there a way to have a more accurate reading for the 40 yard dash? The WR in this year’s draft seems weak. Outside of a very few, almost everyone ran between 4.45 and 4.6. The gauntlet drill was flooded with drops. Was this the receivers or the QBs fault? What receivers can: create separation and catch the ball!

Bob says: The NFL teams all have input into the Combine and if they wanted the leg press, I think it would be part of the testing. It sounds like they feel some of the other tests that are used given them the type of data they want to analyze a player’s quick and explosion. I think the 40-yard dash thing is way overblown, largely because the NFL network puts up a number from timing done by them, not the NFL itself. I think they should go to an Olympics-like timing system where the time is posted immediately and publicly (in the dome and on NFL Network) so the confusion is eliminated.

As to the gauntlet drill for receivers, remember that they are not catching balls from a familiar passer, so that hurts in some cases. As to the quality of the receiving group, it appears to be below average to weak. Only two guys are considered first rounders and only four in the second round and one of those guys is on crutches (Georgia Tech’s Demaryius Thomas.) Any receiver who can run 4.5 or less is plenty fast enough. Above that, they can be very valuable with other talents, like catching everything thrown their way.

johnfromfairfax says: Any ideas regarding how much of an impact having the two new coordinators on board will have on Pioli and Haley with the draft and free agent player acquisition this off season? How much say do you think either or both will have in the process and do you think one may have more of an influence in the process than the other.

Bob says: Both Pioli and Haley have said publicly that they will lean on the experience and expertise of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel as they prepare and select in the draft. I would think Crennel might have a slight edge since he was part of the NFL drafting process in Cleveland while he was head coach of the Browns. I think it’s safe to say that each offensive and defensive player selected will have the stamp of approval from the coordinators.

Big Vess says: Which of the three tackles Bulaga, Okung, or Davis had the best combine workout and who do you see the Chiefs picking in that group? And who do you see as a hidden gem pick that some teams may overlook in the later rounds?

Bob says: Okung probably tested out the best of those three tackles and has the most upside. Bulaga would be next, followed by Davis. At No. 5, I think the Chiefs would consider Okung or Bulaga; Davis would be a reach at that point. The question comes down to where the Chiefs think these guys can play, whether it’s left or right tackle; both Okung and Bulaga can play the left tackle.

As for hidden gems, there may be but you’ll have to give me some time to find them.

SG says: A couple questions – what was the funniest single thing you saw take place at the Combine (or associated events) that you’re allowed to tell us about? And what was the stupidest question that a member of the press posed during the Combine events?

Bob says: The funniest thing I saw was the mass exodus of people who were sitting listening to Packers coach Mike McCarthy when an announcement was made that Tim Tebow was available for questions. It was like somebody pulled the plug on a drain. Even McCarthy had to laugh at how quickly his audience went from about 50 or 60 to 10.

The stupidest question would have to be the one that was asked of QB Sam Bradford. He’s one-16th Indian in his family background and really knows little or nothing about his tribe’s traditions, etc. But he was asked if he would tell the Washington Redskins not to draft him because of their nickname. The question did not fluster Bradford who quickly answered that it was not a problem for him.

Sometimes media types ask unusual questions to spur unusual answers. In this case I’m not sure what the questioner was going for; if he expected Bradford to tell an NFL team not to draft him, then he had not done any research on the quarterback and his personality and background.

Ron says: How many (paid on staff) people will teams (Chiefs) send to the combine? What is their position with the organization? Different Coaches? Scout? Coordinator , Or what? Really like your information. Thanks.

Bob says: It varies a great deal from team to team. Most clubs send their key player personnel decision makers, like GM, player personnel director, head coach and coordinators. That’s the case for every team. Most send all of their scouts. Some send all of their assistant coaches. Every team sends a medical squad for tests, either team doctors, trainers or both. A few teams have psychologists on staff or retainer and they sometimes travel to Indy as well. Seattle sent 60 people this year to Indy. I would think the average number is right around 25 or so.

Roscoe says: Do you think the Chiefs will take Dez Bryant at the 5th pick of the NFL draft??

Bob says: No, I don’t think they’ll take Bryant if they stay at No. 5. I think he’s more of a value choice at No. 8 through No. 12. There are plenty of questions about Bryant and his personality and work habits. If the Chiefs have those questions, it’s unlikely they would use a first-round choice on him.

Morten, Denmark says: Thanks for your great coverage Bob. Two questions – Is the combine a bit overhyped by the media in your opinion; I mean broadcasting 40 yard dashes live etc? And, do the teams besides testing player’s intelligence; I believe they do a 12 minutes test; test prospect’s personalities like you do when you hire leaders in the business world? How do they evaluate how they react under real pressure? In short; how do they evaluate talents mentally?

Bob says: The Combine is a bit over-hyped, but that’s testimony to the NFL and its standing in the American sports world. Would-be players running around in their underwear draws attention. Broadcasting the event live has only increased the attention and hype. As for testing, every player takes the Wonderlic test and then individual teams all have their own personality, leadership and intelligence tests that they give at the Combine.

Seeing how they react to questions is also a test under pressure. Bryant said teams were all over him about his lying to the NCAA that led to his suspension. Former teammate Perrish Cox was kicked off the Oklahoma State squad during Cotton Bowl week for missing curfew twice. He said teams were very aggressive in asking him about that incident and why he would let something like that happen before a bowl game.

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