NFL Combine Serves to Reinforce Bengals Film Study
By Brian Dugan
Feb 19, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis after finishing an interview talks to Iowa Hawkeyes offensive linemen Brandon Scherff during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
This weekend starts the circus of the 2015 NFL season, as the NFL Combine kicks off in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium. What a spectacle this has become over the past 20 years or so. An event that has gone from a handful of reporters covering the event (if they could convince their bosses of the idea) to entire networks covering nameless guys in bike shorts competing in an enclosed bubble for a weekend. No doubt, the Cincinnati Bengals have their top player personnel in Indy ready to go.
Is the combine really this “be all, end all” competition for players? Well, it really can be. Look at guys like Chris Johnson and most recently Dri Archer, because if not for the combine and the equalizer that is the 40-yard dash, these guys may never have been given a chance.
What the combine really does is gives scouts and coaches alike a chance to see the players they’ve been looking at on tape all year in a single controlled environment. It also gives front offices a chance to talk to a few players, maybe get inside their head a little, and find out more about these players than they would have at any other point in the season.
Does this process solidify what someone thought they knew about a player? Possibly, but with pro days still to come and entire college careers to mull over, it’s unlikely opinions of where a player should ultimately be drafted will be altered significantly during this weekend in the Hoosier state. More than likely, most scouts and player personnel already have a good idea of whom they want or what kind of player will fit their scheme. Just an invite to the NFL combine for a college player is practically a golden ticket to the NFL.
The proof for the Bengals is in the pudding so to speak. Duke Tobin, the Bengals Director of Player Personnel sat down with Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson and explained how the Bengals now evaluate players.
"“I don’t think the true value of a scout is how quickly he can get from Hattiesburg to Jackson or from Ole Miss over to Alabama or how early he can get up in the morning to be the first one with the clicker,” Tobin says. “The true value of the scout is what he does when the film comes on and how he evaluates the player.”“We’re trying to limit the inefficiency in scouting and maximizing the time to do what we’re really there to do, which is grading the film. And we’re the most effective grading the film here in the office.”"
Since Duke Tobin has been the team’s Director of Player Personnel, it’s arguable the Bengals have had some of the best drafts in franchise history, and consistently some of the best drafts in the NFL. The recent Bengals success is no accident, and Tobin’s philosophy of film study combined with preparation has yielded the results of a 40-23-1 record over the past four seasons, one of the NFL’s best. Although the combine is important and kind of fun for fans during this brutal winter, most teams already have their work done and are just wrapping up preparations for the draft on April 30th.
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