The offseason continues to roll along with the NFL Combine being the next major event on the football calendar coming this week.
More than 300 players will try to make positive impressions on coaches, general managers, scouts, and other front office types in what amounts to being the biggest, most intricate job interview in sports.
Here is the latest …
- Matt Miller’s scouting notebook at Bleacher Report asks a simple question that likely has a complex answer: Is Nathan Peterman the 2017 version of Dak Prescott? One scout tells Miller that could be the case, though cautioned that it’s unlikely he will step in as a rookie and lead his team to the NFC’s best record. Instead, Peterman is the kind of player who could start in Week 1, allowing the team that picks him in a middle round to grab starters at other positions earlier in the draft. For what it’s worth, Peterman and Prescott stood out for the right reasons at the Senior Bowl after multiple years of starting for power conference schools. Both possess the kind of poise, throwing accuracy, and enough arm strength to convince you he’s worthy of a shot at a starting position, without risking a high pick. It’s easy to remember Ezekiel Elliott’s performance, but Dallas also landed defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who played in 16 games and recorded five sacks.
- Also in Miller’s notebook, LSU safety Jamal Adams and North Carolina quartebrack Mitch Trubisky are a pair of players who could be available at No. 3 for the Bears who will be full participants at the Combine. Adams is the kind of player who can transform the Bears secondary, while we’re all familiar with Trubisky – who Miller mocks to the Bears at No. 3.
- Even though the Bears struck gold with Cody Whitehair in 2016, the offensive line still ranked among the middle of the pack – thanks mostly to the play of its interior linemen. Draft analyst Chad Reuter picks five offensive linemen with the most to prove at next week’s Combine, all of whom play tackle – the position on the line the Bears could use an upgrade at the most. Like every player in Indianapolis, this quintet will need to show that their talent and upside will make up for any flaws (perceived or real) in their game or from their past. This doesn’t appear to be a great class of tackles, but the situation is worth monitoring because of the Bears’ need at the position.
- Over at Bleacher Report, Brent Sobleski presents the 10 players primed for the biggest breakout at the Combine. The list features a bunch of fresh names and players who were great at non-traditional powers. However, at the top of the group is Patrick Mahomes, the Texas Tech quarterback whose buzz continues to build as we get closer to the draft. Mahomes flew under the radar as the Red Raiders struggled to stack wins in 2016, but he’s the kind of athlete who could open eyes at the Combine. Sobleski writes that if Mahomes can quiet concerns about his knowledge of pro style passing concepts during team interviews, he could make a case for being the best quarterback prospect in the draft.
- Zay Jones needs to have a good showing at the Combine, according to Greg Gabriel – whose recent Pro Football Weekly piece names Jones and six others who have a lot to gain with a strong performance in Indianapolis. The East Carolina wide receiver was a star at the Senior Bowl playing for the John Fox-coached North team, so it’s not as if the Bears’ brass will be unfamiliar with him. But the Combine simply provides a different perspective.
- So what does an NFL Combine interview look like? Former Washington GM Charley Casserly provides an inside look via Good Morning Football. Casserly has worked with prospects (including 100 this year), prospective coaches and GMs, and college coaches over the last 10 years, so it’s clear he knows his stuff. Further, Casserly breaks down the three types of interviews (informal, video, formal) that go on at the combine, which could be a grind on the players. He also gives some quality advice that any job-seeker could find useful, such as be likable, show good posture, and be honest. Seems simple when it’s put that way.
- It appears the strength in this draft is in its depth:
This draft is so deep. I have about 70 guys worthy of a top 50 spot. The 2nd/3rd round is going to produce a lot of future pro bowlers.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) February 25, 2017
- According to Pro Football Weekly, NFL teams would be prohibited from interviewing Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly if he shows up to the Combine in Indianapolis. Kelly was among the most notable players not invited to the Combine because of past discretions off-the-field. Still, the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly has a pedigree and arm talent. So in a quarterback-hungry league, there still might be a market for him. As of right now, the only way for Kelly to get official team interviews is if the NFL re-invites him – which seems like a long shot.
- Columnist Gregg Doyle of the Indianapolis Star takes us through another important part of the Combine process – the medical testing. Doyle details the entire process, which seems exhausting on the surface, but apparently necessary for future NFL stars.
- On the other hand, it might be time to upgrade and update the Combine process. Over at NOLA.com, Mackie Shilstone writes there might be a more effective way to assess a player’s skill more accurately than the traditional 3-cone or shuttle drills. Citing recent research in February’s Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, adapting a change-of-direction speed test could prove to be more accurate. I can’t imagine the Combine switching gears on a dime, but it might be worth looking into – even on an individual or team level.
- Speaking of traditional Combine events, Jonathan Jones of SI.com has the story of how the 40-yard dash became the Combine’s marquee event. The dash wasn’t always a must-see event, but over the years, dash times have become synonymous with player evaluation and the universal number when discussing a player’s speed.
- Of course, not every successful drill at the combine translates into on-the-field star-studded success at the NFL level. Just ask Stephen Paea, the Bears’ second-round pick in 2011:
Bench pressing 225 lbs FORTY-NINE times ?
— NFL (@NFL) February 23, 2017