The NFL scouting combine is this week in Indianapolis — and this time a lot of the poking, prodding and measuring will happen on prime-time television. The event has turned into enough of a spectacle to make a person wonder: Just what is worth paying attention to this week, if anything at all?
First take: Michael Rand
I’m looking forward to seeing if Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will continue taking truth serum during his combine interview session. Two years ago he was extremely candid about the Vikings’ offseason quarterback pursuit — saying that if Minnesota picked the wrong one, “I’ll probably get fired.”
Also, I’ll be looking for any rumblings and trade rumors about Stefon Diggs. The league year doesn’t start until March 18, but speculation season is forever.
As for drills, stopwatches and early insights on the Vikings’ draft board? I’ll leave that to you, Andrew.
Andrew Krammer: Zimmer might tell us whom they’re targeting at No. 25 in the draft. There’s just something about the plush lobby couches of the JW Marriott that provide Zimmer’s most relaxed media availability of the year — or it’s more likely the exhale of not having to win a game on Sunday.
If you look closely enough at this week’s combine results, between the milliseconds and inches, college football’s upper echelon of athletes will distinguish themselves to Vikings decision-makers.
General Manager Rick Spielman has leaned on advanced metrics that come, in part, from combine and pro-day testing to break draft-board ties. That led the Vikings to players such as Danielle Hunter and Jerick McKinnon.
Before Hunter terrorized NFL quarterbacks, he was a little-known LSU junior who led all defensive linemen in the 2015 combine’s 40-yard dash (4.57 seconds). He also posted pro-day numbers in the broad jump and three-cone drill that would’ve bested any D-lineman at that combine.
Rand: I’m kind of torn between mocking the combine and recognizing its legitimacy — particularly as athleticism, as often uncovered by “measurables,” plays an increasingly key role in determining which college players will translate into worthy pros.
Pro Football Focus broke down which drills are actually beneficial in learning about a player. Long story short: Pay attention to the vertical jump and broad jump.
“Truthfully these drills have application to nearly every position on the football field,” PFF notes.
And if the Vikings take an offensive tackle, let’s hope he has long arms.
Krammer: And the NFL trimmed prospect interviews from 60 to 45 while increasing the time limit from 15 to 18 minutes. The adjustment “is related to schedule changes,” according to the NFL, of moving drills to the evenings for prime-time television and more attention.
The most important combine takeaways, for teams, will remain off-camera interviews and medical evaluations. That’s not to say Vikings brass can’t confirm its love for a long-armed tackle during a sleepless week in Indianapolis. I’m just not sure I’d invite all your friends over to watch those 40-yard dashes.
Rand: They can party at my house, but it’s BYOC — bring your own cones.
Krammer: Stopwatches provided?