Every year late in February (except 2021 with Covid), we have the event that kicks off the NFL Draft Season, which is the Scouting Combine. And every year, we read several stories about how different prospects helped their "stock" with exceptional performances at the Combine. The problem with that narrative is it doesn't really happen.
Prospects are supposed to perform well as they have been at performance camps for up to two months preparing to have a great workout. The red flag comes when someone has a poor workout.
There are cases where a player outperforms expectations, and when that happens, the player's grade isn't automatically raised. It means teams need to go back and review more tape to make sure they have the correct grade on the player.
As has been stated several times, the most important part of the Combine is the medical. Going forward, clubs now know if any medical issues will prevent them from drafting a certain player. If a player was coming off an injury that prevented him from working out in Indy, there is a medical re-check in mid-April. The re-checks show the clubs how much improvement has been made with the condition and gives them a better idea as to when that player will be able to step on the field again.
What's Up Next?
Over the next four to five weeks, there will be Pro Days at various schools almost daily. The players who performed at the Combine and did well usually don't partake in the measurable events (40 yd dash, pro shuttle, 3-cone, vertical jump, long jump) but rather just take part in position drills run by various NFL coaches. Players who were not invited to Indy also get to perform at these events, and it pays off for many of them. Every year there are 35 to 40 players who were not invited to the Combine who get Drafted.
There will also be the much-anticipated, televised spectacle of the quarterback Pro Days that will, in reality, tell us nothing. Quarterback Pro Days are for show and run by the player's quarterback guru. They are scripted, rehearsed events that show off the player's strengths, not weaknesses.
The important workouts for the quarterbacks will be the private workouts. Following these, the clubs with a quarterback need will get a better feeling for each prospect and be able to line them up correctly on the board. It's over the next four to five weeks that the "love affairs" with certain players will begin. That, of course, helps the draft trade market.
Will The Bears Move the #1 Pick Soon?
If you haven't heard that the Chicago Bears are shopping the first overall pick in the Draft, then you aren't a football fan, and you haven't been paying attention. Who ends up with that pick right now is unknown.
Yesterday two well-written columns by Peter King and Albert Breer confirmed that the Bears have already held trade talks with several clubs. Both write that there are offers on the table that will bring back to the Bears up to multiple first-round picks over the next few years.
Unless there is a club involved that we don't know about, the only club I could see offering multiple future number-one picks to get to one is Carolina. They currently sit at number nine, and the move from nine to one is expensive.
But is that the best deal for the Bears?
Bears General Manager Ryan Poles does not have to be in a hurry to get this deal done, as the result of this blockbuster trade will be his legacy. He has to get this trade right!
Is going from one down to nine the right thing? Looking in from the outside, I understand how fans can get excited at the thought of having multiple first-round picks in each of the next two years. By looking closely though, it might not be what's best. It depends on what level of player the Bears can Draft at nine. By trading down eight slots, the Bears may take themselves out of the area where the premium players are. Do they really want to do that because a premium player can be a difference-maker?
The determining factor will be how many premium players the Bears have on their Draft Board. If they feel they will still get a top player at nine, then by all means, make the trade!
At his Combine press conference, Poles stated there are scenarios in which the Bears could make the trade before the start of free agency next week. That would help us assume that a veteran player is involved in the deal, but after looking more closely, that is not necessarily the case.
For the club trading up, they know they will get the quarterback of their choosing and not have to worry about what other clubs might do. For the Bears, it lets them know how many extra picks they have in this Draft. Knowing how many picks they have and where they are situated can be helpful when free agency begins next week. It can mean the difference between signing or not signing a certain vet.
Making a trade before the start of free agency is unprecedented. The earliest I can remember a trade for the top pick being made was in 2016 when on April 14th, the Rams traded up with Tennessee to secure the first overall pick. That was followed a few days later, with the Eagles trading up to the second overall pick. The trades let the Rams and Eagles know that they were getting what was perceived to be the top quarterbacks in that Draft. The same thing could happen this year, only earlier. The next few days will be interesting for sure.