When the 2013 NFL combine starts, teams will suddenly find themselves with an empowering wealth of information. over 300 players will be shuffled into Lucas Oil Stadium over four days, being poked, prodded, worked out, and interviewed for all hours of the day. As a former player, who went through the process 20 years ago, I can tell you that it's both exciting AND nerve-wracking. Questions get both answered and raised, and exact measurements of height, weight and everything in between are tallied.
Many a college star goes into the combine thinking he's one height, only to find out he's actually an inch or two shorter. Both my 13 and 16 year old boys can tell you The Combine has had a lasting effect on me as I now exercise the strictest height measurements known among fathers - all imparted to me by my 1992 combine experience... I can tell you with all certainty that my sons are a legitimate 5'8" 3/4 and 6' 7" respectively.
As Coach Andy Reid and John Dorsey descend upon Indianapolis, they will be faced with an intensive and arduous evaluation process. Both will have to sift through a mountain of information to find the true value of every player. There will be "workout warriors" that test through the roof and raise their stock just as there will be "flops" whose stock will drop, simply because they don't run as fast or aren't as tall as advertised.
Of course, the combine isn't all physical. Coaches and GMs will spend hours evaluating the players' mental makeup as well. One major change in that process this year will be the addition of a new "test". It's said to be designed to level the playing field and be more comprehensive than the Wonderlic test, which I'm pretty sure has been employed since Alexander the Great. There has been much speculation as to what exactly it entails, but no one really knows. That means it will probably yield its most accurate results this year. Why? Because in an age of getting prepped for the combine like it's the super bowl, agent's prepare their athletes not only physically, but mentally as well. That includes taking sample Wonderlic tests, a practice that makes interpreting results difficult for coaches, GMs, and Scouts. This year, however, knowledge of what exactly this new test entails is limited, so we can expect more accurate results.
The mental evaluation process at the combine continues with private interviews of the players. Teams are allowed 60 interviews at the combine, lasting no longer than 15 minutes. In that short time, they may have scripted questions for the players aimed at finding out as much as possible about a player's background and personality, but they may also simply have a conversation with the player just to see how he reacts.
In my opinion, In these situations, body language says more about the mental make up of a player than anything else. Do they look you in they eye? Do they seem attentive? When you talk to them, does it seem important to them? If I'm evaluating QBs, I'm paying even more attention to this. Does he have charisma? Can you see him as a leader? That's what a lot of these coaches, GMs and scouts will be looking for through the rest of the week in Indy.
In the end, 15 minutes just simply is not enough time to get a true grasp of a player's mental make-up, especially when you have something as valuable as the number one overall pick in your hands. You can expect the Chiefs evaluation of their top prospects to continue in the days following the combine as prospects participate in their Pro Days at their Universities. For the time being, as this week progresses, I'm sure we'll see Coach Andy Reid, John Dorsey and their team of scouts huddled very much the way they were seen in Mobile at the Senior Bowl - focused, conversing and discussing as the workouts are conducted on the field before them. One thing you can count on, as the chiefs prepare for their first #1 overall pick in team history, is that the player they select in April will have impressed them both on that field and off.