There’s an old saying ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
That phrase doesn’t apply to the NFL Combine which gets started Wednesday at Lucas Oil Field here in Indianapolis.
As is the case with everything the powerful NFL shield touches the Combine has exploded in popularity as the league continues to push their product nearly year round. NFL.com reported there are over 800 credentialed media this year and the event has turned into must-see-TV for junkies craving any football fix less than three weeks after the Super Bowl.
For the coaches, general managers and NFL-related representatives the event has evolved in different ways.
“It wasn’t like this 15 years ago,” Phoenix-based NFL super agent Eric Metz told Pros2Preps.com Tuesday night. “The Combine was set up just to get medical [exams for players] in 80’s, then they decided to work them out. In the 90’s we had the ‘workout warriors’ [like former Philadelphia Eagle Mike Mamula]. Now we’ve come full-circle where both are important.”
Metz said the NFL personnel magnifying glass has intensified, as well.
“When Lawrence Taylor came out in 1981there were no questions about him,” he said. “He came from a good family. He couldn’t get through this Combine unscathed.”
Things have also changed for the selected players who flock to Indy in hopes of impressing their possible future employers. Now, players are seamlessly moved from one appointment to the next on their tight daily schedule.
That wasn’t always the case.
“When I was there they wanted to put pressure and stress on players in a strange environment,” former Arizona State offensive lineman and seven-year NFL pro Scott Peters said to Pros2Preps.com about his 2002 Combine. “Everybody has a different experience. There were teams…when I was in an interview with another team…who tried to pull me out of it. It may have been chaotic by design.”
Now the former Eagles fourth-round pick is training and mentoring future NFL players. One is former Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier who will be participating at the Combine. Many experts expect him to be selected in the first round.
“When I talk to players it’s all about being a true professional,” said Peters. “Be on time. I tell the guys to be themselves. [Teams] want to hear that you’re coming into the league with big intentions.”
Metz agrees the stop watch doesn’t always tell the story which can be tricky for NFL personnel.
“It has now come to the point where medical is most important, then interviews and workouts. The emphasis has shifted. I care about your game speed. Anquan Boldin has faster playing speed than workout speed. Ken Whisenhunt ran faster than Jerry Rice at the ’85 Combine.”