What’s the point?
As I sit and watch the offensive lineman and especially the running backs make their way through the various measurements and drills I try to find a real game football application to all of it. Some of the drills are very easily attributed to the real game but how many times will an offensive lineman need to jump as high as he can, flat footed, straight into the air? When it comes to the running backs there are a few more featured players involved and as featured players they are obviously going to be scrutinized every time they blink the wrong way. This year’s running back class is of course featured by Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, and Christian McCaffrey. The first unexpected drill came when Fournette stepped up to the vertical jump and only jumped 28.5 inches. This is obviously fairly low for a running back of his potential but the immediate argument is that he doesn’t need to jump and his tape makes up for it. No matter how poorly he performed in any of the drills the media, coaches, and scouts will all still base his draft grade off of his game tape. The next event of note form today’s running back group was the success of McCaffrey who showed out with precise hip movement, footwork, and not a single pass dropped the entire day. He made each drill look like a breeze and easily had the best day of all the running backs. The immediate reaction to his success, “that’s the same thing we’ve already seen on tape”. Which brings my point of the combine to forefront, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Unless one the featured athletes goes out and either injures himself or absolutely bombs every drill they really don’t make a difference. All these players’ game tape is already done and how they perform on the field has already been watched. If the scouts and coaches know almost everything they need to know already than whats the point?
We all know the NFL will do everything they can to stay the powerhouse of sports in America and more importantly make money. The scouting combine is one of their newest tools to do just that. Stuck right in a dull time in the sports world the NFL sticks the combine on T.V. just to remind everyone that the NFL is still king. They parade their best new incoming athletes around in an attempt to ignite the excitement for next season barely a month after the last game was played. It is also a reminder that next month is the always exciting three day event in which we watch men walk up to a podium every fifteen minutes and call out a name that most of us will most likely never hear again. Other than the fact that the NFL has found a way to use these two events to stay relevant during the entire offseason even when there are no games being played, the NFL has found a way to make money when there are no game being played. The combine is placed during the weekend over multiple days in order for people to watch and the NFL to make money. The draft is an even bigger moneymaker that the NFL has turned into a prime time event taking up three separate days maximizing every penny they can get. So if you’re wondering why the scouting combine is such a big deal if the drills don’t usually matter, there is your answer.
Throughout the week at the scouting combine both new Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell took questions on the podium and also did short interviews with some local media outlets. As much as the reporters and media members pried at both men, there are very few new developments that were found. There were a few questions to both about the relationship between Marrone, Caldwell, and Tom Coughlin which were all answered with positivity and praise for the newly hired Coughlin. When it comes to free agency and the draft the same opportunities are available and facts are true. The free agent pass rusher market is fairly slim because of the franchise tag this offseason while the guard and corner back position in free agency provide a viable crop to upgrade at both positions which are two of the weakest positions on the team at the moment. The Jags have to find some way to upgrade the number two cornerback position to help Jalen Ramsey on the other side. The offensive line again was debatably the weakest point on the team in 2016 and for Blake Bortles and the running game the team can’t afford to have more weak offensive line play. When it comes to Blake Bortles regression and weak play in 2016 Caldwell was quick to defend him citing the number of touchdowns he accounted for and that we do not have another person to produce these points. This stat was true while the fact that he has very few wins and way too many pick sixes was not mentioned by Caldwell. When it comes to the draft there is no single player making themselves stick out at any spot in the draft let alone at number four to the Jags. As fans we can only hope that when the time comes the team will simply take the best available player at the time but as usual with our Jaguars, you never know.