The time has come for the annul NFL scouting combine. Where players from different schools and all positions are invited to show off their individual talents for every coach and GM in the league. It is also the first real opportunity that the media has to cover incoming college players for the first time without the restrictions of the NCAA or the protection of their individual SID (sports information director) from their universities.
The draft is held every year in Indianapolis and it is the one place that aspiring young NFL players can greatly improve or hurt their possible draft position. The draft is essentially a meat market where the players are poked and prodded, measurements are taken, and they preform various physical tests such as: the 40 yard dash, which has become the marquee event, the max bench press of 225 pounds, the standing vertical jump, as well as individual drills specific to each players individual position.
As the NFL season is never ending, the draft combine has become not only important for each team to evaluate talent; it has become somewhat of a network phenomenon that the NFL Network will broadcast all the events from every single day. With much of the focus being on the 40 yard dash, broadcast technology today has taken the seemingly boring event of watching players doing 40 yard sprints, into superimposing one over another and comparing them head to head. In fact, it is so popular that the face of the NFL Network, Rich Eisen has run the 40 each of the past 4 years, and this year broke the 6 second barrier for the very first time, prompting him to trend world wide on Twitter.
While evaluating players at the combine is not an exact science, see the Chargers taking Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning in 1998, to teams not being impressed with a scrawny QB out of Michigan by the name of Tom Brady. Who was eventually drafted in the 6th round to be a back up in New England.
It does give teams the opportunity to not only see these players in real time but it gives them the opportunity to meet with them face to face and see who these players really are. Every GM will tell you that the best way to build a contending team is through the draft and finding good players, and the scouting combine is where it all begins.