Out of the Doldrums and into the Storm

This is it. This is the day. Today marks the start of the NFL Combine. For the first time in months, something is happening that is actually important. For almost the last two months we've been speculating on this and that, and jabbering about who to draft, who to grab in free agency, etc. In spite of all the words, however, the last few months have mostly been just passing the time. It's a bland period, but it really is kind of calming. Everything slows down. That is, until today.

The NFL Scouting combine is the storm people. We've ridden out the calm part of the football year, but even as I write this, thirty-two teams have sent countless personnel guys and scouts to Indianapolis to watch players run padless drills. There will be over a thousand media people and scouts who will do everything they can to run the over 300 participants through the ringer in a massive, six-day process. The players will be poked and prodded by team doctors, chatted up by media people and in some cases individual coaches, and forced to perform like athletic versions of that little monkey with a pair of cymbals.

 

The combine is a flurry of activity and intrigue that most don't know about. Fringe players will lose sleep worrying about their forty times; scouts will just not sleep at all. Players train for months to cut .02 seconds off of their forty times, and often consider the work to be worth it. For some scouts, scouting a player is more paperwork than doing taxes. Teams have to analytically analyze the unique strengths and weaknesses of each individual player before going to rank every last one of them. Yup, every player from 1 to 300. I do not envy the people whose job it is to cover the Combine. Their team's success in the draft depends on those scouts' ability to notice the tiniest flaws and nitpickiest details in a player's game.

You can bet the intensity is high in Indianapolis, and as soon as Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert and all the other QBs hit the field Saturday, the intensity will ramp up again. Nothing can bring a team out of obscurity faster than a franchise quarterback, and due to the depth at the QB position in this draft, a lot of teams will likely be looking for one, the Jaguars included. The drills don't begin until Friday, but the search has already begun. Players have arrived, and the media is getting their shot at getting to know the players. We'll get to know them soon, too. Fortunately, we'll have more than just this week days to do it.

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