5. The Combine
NFL Network’s coverage of the 2013 NFL Combine will run through all four days, 23-26 February. Regardless of individual feelings or stock put into the Combine, scouts, front offices and drafkniks alike all hold it in regard, and as such, many players rise and fall based on performances displayed here. If that’s in doubt, remember that last year at this time Vontaze Burfict was a first round prospect out of Arizona State whom many mock drafts had landing in Baltimore as a successor to Ray Lewis. After a tragic Combine, Burfict fell out of the NFL Draft completely before being picked up by the Bengals as one of the undrafted.
This analogy has a simple moral: play attention to who is on the board now in order to better evaluate their ‘social value’ verses actual value later. The risers’ performances will be well-documented, and their tape will be made very available. The fallers tend to fade into obscurity, and their headlines more difficult to find without a weather eye. Even so, the Bengals have shown some of the most appropriate and prudent responses to the Combine in recent years, recognizing how a player’s performance here may make him a more valuable commodity on Draft Day, but not perhaps a more valuable player in the long run.