The NFL marketing machine has mastered many things, but two that stand out involve the incredible hype surrounding the draft and the scouting combine. The latter is, of course, this weekend, and the NFL Network will be broadcasting "25 hours of live programming presented by 16 correspondents." Because 15 wasn't enough, I guess.
The combine can be mildly interesting, worthy of a brief pause while channel surfing, but in the end, it's very hard not to mock the entire bloated, overblown thing. And if you're planning on staying inside and spending a significant amount of time watching the thing, and you're not associated with the NFL or scouting, coaching or playing, you, my friend, need to work a little harder at life.
Find a girlfriend, read a book, take up guitar, go get drunk. Or here's an idea: go work out instead of just watching others do it.
Of course, if you turn on the NFL Network or log on to nfl.com (or any ESPN vehicle for that matter), all you're told is how vitally important this evaluation process is, ignoring a few relevant facts: all of these players will be giving private workouts to scouts at other times; they have this new invention called 'film' in which you can watch actual game tape of any player you want; and as many teams have found out, great workouts don't necessarily make great players.
That's the most ironic thing about this 5-day long circus. Several players will jump up in the draft, some of them dramatically, do to a fast 40-time or impressive vertical leap.
Conversely, there will be stud players who fall because they suck at the shuttle run or gave the wrong answer on this absurd test. And inevitably, many teams will regret those choices, which they based on this vitally important combine.
But they will have only themselves to blame. It's kind of like if a company goes to hire a new CEO and says of one guy, "Yea, he drove his last company into the ground, but damn, he looks good in a suit!" Actually, I think that probably does happen.
Anyway, I would suggest teams base their draft-day decisions on their need and how a player performed on the field. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure that's the best indicator of what kind of player they are.
Mel Kiper would probably disagree, and not surprisingly he'll be in Indy to study young men in their underwear. I won't be watching. More Fan Sherpa.