Why Zac Taylor is attending NFL Scouting Combine when some coaches are not

Feb 25, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor speaks during the NFL
Feb 25, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor speaks during the NFL / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A few days ago, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk discussed more coaches are skipping out on the NFL Combine. While the number of coaching staffs electing to attend the Combine is getting smaller, count on Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor and his staff to be in attendance, as usual. 

Coaches not going in person to the Combine makes sense. The only thing that teams should need to do is interview players. Other than that, they are wasting time and money sending coaches to obtain the same information that we all do from watching the combine on our couch or gathering information from various sites and outlets. 

Another issue is that some players do not need to, or feel they do not need to, participate in the drills at the combine. Neither Tee Higgins nor Ja’Marr Chase participated in any of the drills at the Combine. Both opted to wait for their pro-day to run. And even the players who partake are not guaranteed to do all the drills teams would like to see from them.  

When visiting NFL.com to research players, they have an infographic: "Prospects who do not perform drills at the combine or pro day are given an estimated athleticism score based on their size and projected 40 time.” In other words, they make it up.  

Right now, your favorite Internet scout is gearing up to bombard your feed with RAS scores and PFF grades. None of these things actually lets teams know if a left tackle can block Myles Garrett one on one. It is a piece of the total picture, certainly. However, it is arguably a much larger piece than it should be.

The scouting Combine does have its advantages. Team officials get to test players at the chalkboard and ask them questions about scheme and play design, which could be helpful. It is also an opportunity for coaches to have first impressions with draftees. 

The Combine is an opportunity for execs to come together and talk about potential trades and precisely what it will cost for the Bears to move off of the first overall pick. It is also a place where teams can sit down with free agents. Perhaps most importantly, the Combine is a live sporting event that the NFL Network can put on television when not much is going on sports-wise in the US. 

The scouting Combine is, however, also where a team with a large scouting staff can assemble and get everything wrong. New York Jets fans are still wondering what went wrong with Zach Wilson because they saw him throw a nice pass one time at the Combine. 

Nevertheless, it is still important for the coaching staff to show up in Indy when it comes to the Bengals. It is also, more than likely, an obligation as well. 

The Cincinnati Bengals still rely heavily on their coaching staff to help evaluate players in the draft. Because they do not have your classic General Manager who makes all the decisions, the Bengals coaches, along with Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin, work in concert to put together the team’s draft board and draft weekend strategy. Coach Taylor and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo indeed have more say in what goes on in their draft than their counterparts. 

Furthermore, despite the team literally and figuratively changing their stripes, the Bengals still have the least amount of scouts in the NFL. 

Having the smallest scouting staff in the NFL is often a source of ridicule when it comes to the franchise. However, there is at least one former coach who famously asked for more input into the scouting process. Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once legendarily said, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” In Cincinnati, not only are the coaches allowed to help in the scouting process, it is expected.  

Yes, that is a lot of responsibility to put on a head coach, but many coaching candidates covet a situation in which they have a substantial role in the makeup of the team. Most coaches prefer it rather than completely handing over the roster to someone else.

For some reason, the Bengals get ridiculed for it. This is surely something that some coaches around the league are envious of, even though they would never opine publicly about it. That is unless you are Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells. 

Also, it is interesting to note that some coaches all of a sudden deem it unnecessary to attend the scouting combine right when the team with the smallest coaching staff makes it to back-to-back AFC Championship games. Perhaps it isn’t the Bengals that need to rethink how they do things as far as having a larger scouting staff is concerned.  

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Nonetheless, while some head coaches from around the league are opting out of attending the scouting combine, Bengals fans should expect Coach Taylor to be there, as long as he is in Cincinnati. 

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