If you listen to our Two-Minute Drill series of mini-podcasts, you know that this week we compared the value of the NFL combine vs. all-star games as a tool for evaluation. Our take was pretty much that if you’re a player in the top 100-150, the combine is better because scouts already have a rather firm impression of your playing ability, but for lower-rated players, the chance to show your ability in pads is better than a fast 40 time or a series of well-run drills.
Of course, it’s one thing for me to feel this way, but I wanted to get feedback from my friends in the game. The response was interesting and diverse, maybe as diverse as any question I’ve posed to my friends in the business in the two years I’ve run this blog. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; former Browns GM Ray Farmer told the audience at the ITL Seminar that he prefers all-star games over the combine, simply because it’s actual football, not ‘guys that are ready to be underwear models right now,’ as he said last year.
Anyway, here’s the question I asked:
“As a general rule, do you get more out of the combine or an all-star game? Which is more valuable as an evaluation tool? I realize the scale of the combine is far greater, but in terms of how helpful, what’s better? 2-3 practices in pads with 100 guys you might not have all seen, or 350 guys doing tests in shorts, plus medicals and interviews, all in one place?”
Here’s what I got back from four friends in the business.
- “More out of the combine because those are real players. All-star games are the free agents, even (one of the more established games) is getting horrible.”
- “Depends. Always good to see small-school players compete against the bigger-school guys. Both places are great for access/ interviews. Combine wins for medical. As far as evaluating goes, both are probably overrated.”
- “If you’re asking strictly for evaluation purposes I’d say all-star games.”
- “All-star (games) for football evaluation. Overall importance is the combine because of medical.”