Day 1 At The Combine … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From Indianapolis, Indiana

The NFL Combine that began here in downtown Indy on Wednesday has become the current whipping boy du jour of the football pundits. The week long exercise has been called the Underwear Olympics by some, a waste of time by others.

Tell that to the Seattle Seahawks. With a new GM in John Schneider and new head coach Pete Carroll, the franchise has sent 60 people to walk the halls, sitting in meeting rooms and watch workouts inside the Lucas Oil Center. Tell that to dozens of employees of the 31 other NFL teams, or the hundreds of media types that will be on site for the next week.

All those people and all the money spent to get them to Indy is not indicative of a waste of time. The Combine is an important piece of the evaluation process. The media and public tends to focus on the physical end of the four days the players spend with the NFL. The numbers provide the discussion: height, weight, 40-yard time, bench press reps, vertical jump and the like.

But that’s really a small part of what teams can take from the meeting. It’s another chance for teams that are about to spend millions of dollars on 21, 22 and 23-year olds to view them up close and personal.

“I’m not a big measurable person,” said Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. “I know they have a place and they have a value within the overall process. It’s just a piece of the puzzle. I am much more interested in tape and watching a player actually play football than how high they can vertical jump.

“We’re not drafting players or signing players to get them in shorts and tennis shoes and run around on Arrowhead’s field and show us how high they can vertical jump.”

If Pioli means what he says, then he’s taking a logical approach to the Combine and what happens here.

Every other decision maker among the 31 other teams would say the same thing. But it’s funny what does happen when the personnel folk leave Indy and return home and begin updating or starting their draft boards. In the past, there’s no question that players have helped or hurt themselves based on what happened in front of all the teams.

So there are certainly pieces of the personnel puzzle that are put into place during the four days that a player spends at the Combine. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • There are 11 groups of players, based on position from special teamers (Group #1) to defensive backs (Groups #10-11.)
  • On Day No. 1, the players arrive in Indianapolis, they register, visit the hospital for a pre-exam and x-rays, go through an orientation session and begin interviews with individual teams.
  • Day No. 2 is official measurements, medical exams, psychological testing, media interviews and more interviews with the teams.
  • Day No. 3 features a meeting with the NFL Players Association, more psychological testing and interviews with the teams.
  • Day No. 4 has the on-field work and the players head out of Indy.
  • The special teamers, offensive line and tight ends began their four-day session on Wednesday and will be flying out of town on Saturday. The quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs arrive on Thursday. The defensive line and linebackers show up on Friday and the defensive backs come in on Saturday and will finish up the Combine with workouts on Tuesday.

Three of the four days include the same segment: team interviews. That tells you plenty about the importance of these sessions, although Pioli downplays the effect of the interviews.

“As soon as the season ends for some of these players they get with agents, they get with trainers and they are literally trained how to interview,” Pioli said. “It’s become quite a cat-and-mouse game between the clubs and the agents.

“A lot of the stuff is canned now and they know what questions are going to be asked, even the negative questions if they have some negatives stuff in their background; they’re prepared for those.”

All that just forces the teams to become more creative in finding out what makes these players tick. They must continue to find new ways to ask the same questions or new avenues the get past the preparation.

Here’s why the Combine is important:

  1. Eyeballing the candidates – This is more psychological than physical. How does the player compete during the drills? How does he carry himself with the other players, or the personnel around the Combine? When he walks into the room, does he look everybody in the eye?
  2. Medical – More players go up and down or even off draft boards based on the extensive medical exams that are conducted at the Combine. Serious problems are already known, but teams are not going to trust anyone but their own doctors.
  3. Wonderlic and other intelligence and psychological tests – The Wonderlic is an aptitude test designed to show learning and problem solving ability. It’s a 50-question test that’s designed to be taken in 12 minutes.
  4. Will they work out? – It has become common for players to attend the Combine, but not take part in the physical testing. They prefer to do those drills in a solo workout, usually back on campus. Players that attend and do all that they are asked get more chips in their pile.
  5. Underclassmen – Scouts have a good idea going into the fall season of what red-shirt sophomores and juniors might come out. But access to those players remains more controlled by the colleges. That forces the personnel people to catch up on some of the leg work. The Combine allows that to happen.

Those invited to the Combine are selected by a committee of player personnel types from around the league. Eligible players are reviewed and the committee votes yes or no that the player should be extended an invitation. Each player that reaches a certain level of yes votes based on his position, scores an all expenses paid trip to Indy.

CHIEFS BEGIN WHITTLING AWAY AT THEIR FREE AGENT LIST

Before Pioli and minions left for Indy, they wrapped up a couple of contracts among players who had the potential to be restricted free agents next week.

The Chiefs announced the signing of QB Matt Gutierrez (left) and RB Kolby Smith. No details were provided. Both players will be entering their fourth seasons in the NFL in 2010.

That leaves nine more RFAs. The agents for several of those players said this week that the Chiefs have shown interest in re-signing their clients.

Also on Wednesday, the Chiefs announced that they had released G Mike Goff. The 12-year veteran played eight games for the team last year before he went to the injured-reserve list. He was signed as an UFA from San Diego before last season.

SIGNINGS, DESIGNATIONS AND OTHER MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • BROWNS – negotiated a settlement with fired GM George Kokinis according to the NFL. Kokinis filed a grievance against the team when it refused to honor his contract. No details were provided on the settlement.
  • CHIEFS – released G Mike Goff; signed QB Matt Gutierrez and RB Kolby Smith.
  • PATRIOTS – signed WR David Patten.
  • RAIDERS – used their franchise player tag on DL Richard Seymour; head coach Tom Cable was told he will not face league discipline involving several domestic violence complaints against him.
  • SEAHAWKS – used their franchise player tag on K Olinda Mare.
  • TEXANS – decide not to uses franchise player tag on CB Dunta Robinson, who will be a UFA.

8 Responses to “Day 1 At The Combine … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 25, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    Here’s an interesting pre-Combine speed list compiled by a Sirius host:

    THE 40 FASTEST PLAYERS IN THE 2010 NFL DRAFT

    PRE-COMBINE LIST

    By Bryan McGovern, SIRIUS NFL Radio Host

    1. WR/KR-KELTON TINDAL (NEWBERRY D-II 6-2/190)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.24
    Projected Draft Position: Undrafted

    2. WR/RB/KR-TRINDON HOLLIDAY (LSU 5-5/165)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.27
    Projected Draft Position: 6th/7th Rd

    3. WR/KR-BRANDON BANKS (KANSAS ST 5-7/155)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.28
    Projected Draft Position: 7th Rd

    4. WR-ELDRED KING (DELTA ST 5-9/175)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.34
    Projected Draft Position: Undrafted

    5. HB/KR-C.J. SPILLER (CLEMSON 5-11/195)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.35
    Projected Draft Position: TOP 20

    5. WR/HB/KR-JACOBY FORD (CLEMSON 5-9/180)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.35
    Projected Draft Position: 4th Rd

    7. WR/KR-TAYLOR PRICE (OHIO 6-0/200)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.36
    Projected Draft Position: 2nd/3rd Rd

    7. CB/KR-SCOTTY McGEE (JAMES MADISON 5-8/190)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.36
    Projected Draft Position: Undrafted

    9. HB/WR/KR-DEXTER McCLUSTER (OLE MISS 5-8/165)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.37
    Projected Draft Position: 2nd/3rd Rd

    9. WR/KR-BRANDON DILLARD (VIRGINIA TECH 5-10+/175)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.37
    Projected Draft Position: Undrafted

    9. HB-LaMARCUS COKER (HAMPTON 5-10/200)
    Fastest Reported 40-Time: 4.37
    Projected Draft Position: Undrafted


  • February 25, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    Bob said in a previous article, that if Kolby’s mediacal exam comes out okay, sign him, if not, release him. With us signing him, makes me hope Kolby can contribute ALL season. Pioli and Haley must think so obviously.


  • February 25, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    Guess Smith’s status is dependent on what he’ll show in camp. With two years out because of injuries he probably got a minimum contract and can be released without any significant financial impact. The same is probably true for Gut – I don’t think we can rule out the Chiefs to draft a QB in the later rounds unless Brodie is signed long term before the draft.

    Bob, any rumors about the terms for both of them? One year or longer?


  • February 25, 2010  - Randy says:

    Thunderchief just posted Al Davis’ entire draft board. I bet he’ll be pissed!


  • February 25, 2010  - Danny W says:

    Randy
    That is true and hilarious. With Smith being locked up I wonder if the guys will pull the trigger on a running back this year. With Guit being singed I bet they try and get a pick for Croyle.


  • February 25, 2010  - colby says:

    Agreed on both counts Danny W. If Smith is healthy (big if) he’s a solid all around back who can take some pressure off of Charles. Gut is what he is, a decent #3 with good size and smarts. Outside of Chan over in Buffalo, I can’t imagine there’s a team out there willing to trade for Brodie. However, if Chan were to offer a 3rd for Brodie and say, Mike Cox, that would be awesome. Wishful thinking on my part I’m sure.


  • February 25, 2010  - PnS says:

    I find it funny that chiefs fans are so sure Cassel is the answer. A 1 year wonder that hasn’t shown me much.Yet won’t give Brodie the time of day.I realise he is hurt most of the time,yet to me he is the better QB hands down.I would like to remind chiefs fans…… Gannon was thought a 2 string QB with the Chiefs brass……we all know how that turn out .Brodie doesn’t hold on to the ball all day long or miss on long throws.If Brodie stays healthy we well miss him if traded. Mark it down Gannon all over again.I don’t have to wonder why my chiefs have miss the SB over 40yrs.It’s replayed over & over again year after year by the mistake we make on this team.


  • February 25, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Pns totaly agree with you! Cassel hasn’t shown much, but he knows how to collect big time money… Oh yea and I forgot he is tough!! LOl..




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