Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.
Part 1: The Schedule
Table of Contents
Ah, the NFL Scouting Combine, the annual circus in Indianapolis, Indiana that involves hot mics at podiums, underwear olympics and hot takes as far as the eye can see and the ear can hear. Some people, like yours truly, love the Combine. Others seems to hate it.
Is one more right than the other? Is the Scouting Combine worth soaking everything in to better your knowledge of the draft process, or is the fact that no football is actually being played over the course of the four days the players are there mean that what should be remembered matters about as much as me giving you inside information on who’s going to win the next season of the Bachelor?
The truth of the matter, as it often does, lies in the in-between.
Let’s first go over the schedule of the Combine to make sure you all know what’s going on the week of.
Day 1 arrivals: Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), and Group 3 (RB)
Saturday, March 3rd – Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Overflow Testing ~ Interviews
Sunday, March 4th – Psychological Testing ~ NFLPA Meeting ~ Media ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews
Monday, March 5th – On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis
Contrary to popular belief, the Scouting Combine actually begins on Tuesday, not just on Friday where the first drills begin.
Each position group arrives in the same order they will go to their on the field workout in. So, special teams players, offensive line and running backs arrive on Tuesday, wideouts, tight ends and quarterbacks on Wednesday, defensive line and linebackers on Thursday and defensive backs on Friday.
There isn’t much going on during the day of arrival for each group. The day after, however, is when the Combine process really begins. The day after each group’s arrival, they’ll go through their official measurements for the first time. This is important because schools are often incorrect in how they list some of their players. For examples, I’ve heard cases where a strength coach will just ask a player, “Hey, how tall are you?” A player will respond, “Uh, I’m 6-foot-3” when they’re really 6-foot-1 and a half. But, that’s just how it goes. There’s often no one to verify and sometimes the school will fudge the numbers on purpose to make their players appear to be bigger and taller. So, getting official measurements at the Combine is important because teams do have certain “thresholds” that they want their players to hit. Some teams are more strict than others, but some elements of a threshold likely exist for every team within their draft strategy.
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Getty Images
Thresholds not only vary from team-to-team but also from position-to-position. An example of a threshold might be height for a cornerback. There are some teams that will not have a cornerback on their board if they are say bellow 6-foot. Even if a player under 6-foot is good, because of how they align their cornerbacks and the responsibilities they ask of them (likely in man coverage), they can’t start behind the 8-ball, if you will, by drafting a player who is already giving up a height advantage for what they’re going to be asked to do, like be in single coverage in the red zone. Another threshold could be height for a quarterback. Some teams won’t touch a quarterback if he’s under 6-foot-2. That’s just the way they have their philosophy set up. How strict a team is on their threshold varies.
Contrary to what we may think, most NFL teams don’t go into draft weekend with a big board of over 300 names. What is usually the case is that team will have their board down to about 100 prospects they know they like, in order, and readily available to select with confidence no matter where they are in the draft. But, that’s not to say that team aren’t doing their homework. With all of their scouts around the country, each team is looking at probably over 1,000 players total during the football calendar. Some players are easy to eliminate right away, perhaps due to character or team fit or scheme, but getting that board down to the hundreds really starts at the Combine with official measurements – as well as medical checks.
Medical check are big because, again, schools aren’t as keen (or might not be allowed to) give out or discuss medical matter of their student athletes. At the Combine, independent doctors can take a look at a player’s body and examine a player’s shoulder a year after it was hurt, or what a prospect’s knee looks like after major surgery. Those are important to all teams.
Finally, there’s the interview processes. General managers and coaches have to use their 15 minutes of time wisely at the Combine, if they’re looking to talk to a large list of prospects. They can always have teams in for private workouts and interviews after the Combine, as well as chat with some of the ones they missed at Pro Days, but the Scouting Combine is a unique setting where you can see how a prospect operates under a somewhat nervous situation. Remember these kids have been waiting to do this their entire life and only get to do it once. I’ve asked prospects myself what some of the questions have been inside the meeting rooms and they say it can get weird. Some get asked if they’re a dog or a cat person, or where they would take someone on a first date or things like that. It’s as much of a personality test as anything else.
So, before the prospects even touch the field (the only part we ever think about) that’s sort of what goes on behind the scenes. And, honestly, some coaches and general managers don’t even stay for the on the field drills. They’ve already seen what a player can do in pads and they’ll get the results later. the most important part of the Combine, for the team, at least, happens before those Friday cameras even turn on.
With the growth in popularity of the Combine, NFL.com has started to broadcast some of the Combine events at the podiums before the Friday workouts. Some of those include coaches and general manager interviews.
Here’s this year’s schedule for which front office members will be taking the podiums and when.
GM/Head Coach Interview Schedule
Wednesday 9:00 ET
Brian Gaine, Texans
Hue Jackson, Browns
Vance Joseph, Broncos
Sean McDermott, Bills
Jon Gruden, Raiders
Pat Shurmur, Giants
Dave Gettleman, Giants
Jason Licht, Buccaneers
Dan Quinn, Falcons
Doug Marrone, Jaguars
Sean McVay, Rams
Bob Quinn, Lions
Brandon Beane, Bills
Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers
Matt Patricia, Lions
Steve Wilks, Cardinals
Kevin Colbert, Steelers
Brian Gutekunst, Packers
Steve Keim, Cardinals
Duke Tobin, Bengals
Matt Nagy, Bears
Jon Robinson, Titans
Rick Spielman, Vikings
Mike Vrabel, Titans
Howie Roseman, Eagles
Dave Caldwell, Jaguars
Doug Pederson, Eagles
Adam Gase, Dolphins
Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
Jason Garrett, Cowboys
Mike McCarthy, Packers
Frank Reich, Colts
Chris Ballard, Colts
Andy Reid, Chiefs
Bill O’Brien, Texans
John Elway, Broncos
Ron Rivera, Panthers
Les Snead, Rams
John Lynch, 49ers
Tom Telesco, Chargers
Brett Veach, Chiefs
Anthony Lynn, Chargers
Mike Zimmer, Vikings
Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
Pete Carroll, Seahawks
John Dorsey, Browns
Marvin Lewis, Bengals
Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
John Schneider, Seahawks
I think it’s kind of funny that they have Jon Gruden going right before Jason Licht on the first podium on Wednesday, don’t you?
Licht will be going on at 10:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday and Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter will be on 45 minutes after that. I will be there representing PewterReport.com for both interviews, as well as some exclusive time with both the general manager and head coach, too.
On the next page, we’ll get into specifics of why the Combine matters for the Buccaneers – and what to emphasize and what to avoid.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: email@example.com
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