The 2013 NFL Combine is wrapping up today with the defensive backs being the last position group to finish their 40’s, drill work, jumps and shuttles. Spring workouts begin next week. Now all thirty-two teams will start the smoke screens and get rumors swirling to create a level of deception and get their opponents wondering and second guessing on what each other will do in the draft and free agency.
Teams are positioning themselves in free agency by talking to several agents about possible interest in their clients, while only having a real interest in a few players. The possible trade scenarios within the top 20 picks in the draft is the NFL’s high-stakes poker game with a lot of bluffs. The front office of a franchise must maintain a true poker face to fool everyone outside of the organization, they do this by leaking information to get an advantage through confusion.
This game of deception is about to begin.
While the long hard days of evaluating talent at the yearly combine are just about over, member s of franchises that are in charge of player personnel will soon find themselves locked in their war rooms, combing over prospect data and fine tuning the front and back boards so they could draft tomorrow if they had too.
The combine and spring workouts are a huge part of the overall evaluation process. It allows teams to continue to dig into the players from several different platforms including talking to prospects head coaches, coordinators, assistant coaches and strength coaches . They also meet with the head trainer on medical history (checking for missed playing time due to surgical procedures, concussions, chronic soft-tissue injuries, back and joint problems and inherited diseases). Scouts and coaches will talk with academic advisors on a player’s mental capacity, their degree or course of studies is also an area of concern. Teams will learn quickly if there are learning deficiencies in the way of reading comprehension, and the ability to process and regurgitate football information.
Today the new wave of technology has reached the NFL. Every team now supplies iPads to their players, they want to make sure the rookies can sift through and digest 20 pages of the playbook on a nightly basis and study practice and game film. All the information is downloaded on the iPad, giving the players a head start prior to hitting the football field. It is critical that teams make sure players don’t have issues like dyslexia (reading, spelling, language, and memory deficits). If teams have evaluated a blue player (playmaker/difference maker) with issues of learning and retaining football information, organizations must find out how best he learns, whether it be on film, blackboard, reps on the field or both blackboard and on-field reps.
Scouts will also continue to investigate the prospect’s background, from parental and sibling information to if they have any kids and if so, with the same woman or multiple partners? How many sports did they letter in high school? The more sports the better, it shows the prospect’s love for sports, athletic skill set and their competitive nature. All clubs will continue to gather and confirm character background information, which includes arrests, fights, positive drug tests, immaturity issues on and off campus (multiple parking tickets, problems with the law in the area of disturbing the peace, etc).
All 32 teams will crisscross the United States to continue the draft process of evaluating talent and learning more about these prospects and those that were not invited to the 2013 Combine. Keep in mind the smoke screens will intensify in March, while teams send coaches, scouts and a large contingent to certain workouts with zero interest in those players, just to throw the other teams off the trail of truth. Here comes the smoke!