Before the 2016 NFL Draft kicks off, teams will have spoken to hundreds of potential draft picks or undrafted free agent possibilities. They'll do their damnedest to speak to as many players as possible at all the college all star games and the various collegiate pro days. They'll call or Skype as many prospects as possible. They'll unofficially bump into players down at the NFL Combine and they'll officially have fifteen-minute interviews with 60 prospects at the NFL Combine. Teams are also allowed to schedule 30 private visits with players and they can meet/workout local prospects. The Chicago Bears generally host a local pro-day for players that attended college or high school in the area.
That's a lot of players considering they're are only 7 rounds in the NFL Draft.
Teams meet with as many prospects as possible for a number of reasons.
- They never know how the NFL draft will fall, so it's best to have all avenues explored.
- Many of these players that are drafted will eventually hit the free agent market, so the pre-draft visits are a way for teams to begin building their dossier on prospective free agents 4 or 5 years down the road.
- Even though it sounds kind of cloak-and-daggerish, teams will utilize the smokescreen game and talk with someone just to feign interest.
- Teams could also talk with one prospect, just to gain information on another.
- Personal red flag double checking is always a must. If a player has an injury history or a checkered past, it's best to go straight to the source and hear his story.
So what exactly does it mean when the Chicago Bears talk with Ohio State's Braxton Miller (for example), when he's probably going to speak with the other 31 teams as well?
Unfortunately for fans looking for an inside scoop on which way the Bears are leaning in the draft, not that much.
At this point of the process it's all mostly just fun speculation, but as the old saying goes, where there's smoke there's fire. If the Bears are linked with a player at the all star games, then linked with them at the NFL Combine, then schedule a private visit, that's probably a good indication of interest.
Then again, it all could just be a smokescreen.