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How Important Is The Combine?

As the NFL combine closes in, football fans everywhere are getting excited to have something to watch and talk about again after a few weeks of withdrawal. The combine, of course, is the annual event in Indianapolis, IN, that rounds up all of the elite collegiate prospects and puts them through fitness drills, positional drills, and in-person interviews. It's believed that a player can vault themselves into first round consideration with a blistering 40 time or can fall to the back end of the draft if they show up out of shape.

But how much does the combine really affect how teams evaluate players? Not much according to Sports Illustrated's* *Peter King, who talked to a league source in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column.

"In my call around the league in the least few days, I spoke to one club architect who shall remain nameless at his request," King wrote. "He told me his team had changed its way of doing business in the scouting realm this year, and his team's draft board is '90 percent set.'"

King's source said, "You know why it's 90 percent set now? Because guys go to the Scouting Combine and they change their grade on a player based on things that have nothing to do with playing football. I'm convinced if you took the stopwatches away from a lot of these guys, most of 'em would not be able to tell you whether they liked a player or not.

"These guys go out and watch players all fall, then we all watch the tape of all these guys, and we see what kind of football players they are. That's scouting. Who plays good football in pads? That's scouting. Now we need the combine for the medical evaluations and the personal baggage stuff. But don't come in after the combine and tell me you want to change some guy and move him way up because he ran faster than you thought he would. That's where you get in trouble, and that's why our draft board is pretty well set."

The combine is still an important aspect of the off-season and the pre-draft activities and it does provide a great opportunity for teams to get to know some of the prospects, but its influence on where players get picked is overstated. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to what goes on in the drills. Chris Johnson put his name on the map by running the fastest 40 times two years ago (4.24), but rest assured that the Titans already knew plenty about Johnson before he even arrived in Indianapolis.

To read King's full Monday Morning Quarterback column, click here.

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:57 p.m., February 22

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