Draft Daily: How important is the NFL scouting combine?

With the NFL descending upon Indianapolis this week, Gordon McGuinness takes a look at the actual impact of the combine.

| 3 months ago
Ezekiel Elliott

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Draft Daily: How important is the NFL scouting combine?

Pro Football Focus’ Draft Daily will hit on a number of NFL Draft-related topics including recent news, scouting reports, PFF draft takes, and much more on a frequent basis.

How important is the combine?

Tuesday is a big day for a lot of us at Pro Football Focus, with much of the team heading to Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine. One of the biggest dates in the scouting calendar, it’s also an event that draws polarizing opinions from a lot of different analysts on how important the combine should be in the scouting process. In fact, last week, ESPN’s Mel Kiper declared that he doesn’t even attend the event, because he gets more out of it watching on television at home.

Now, whether or not you believe the combine should matter, it definitely does. Every year, we see prospects that help their stock with blistering 40-yard dash times, and others who see their stock plummet after failing to impress athletically. It’s also a big week because every player invited gets the chance to go through interviews with NFL teams, potentially putting to rest any character concerns or questions the teams have.

PFF Senior Analyst Mike Renner posted an article yesterday on the top performances of the combine at each position since 2006, including memorable performances by running back Chris Johnson, tight end Vernon Davis and quarterback Robert Griffin III. With Adidas offering an island as a prize to anyone who can beat Johnson’s record-breaking 4.24 40-yard dash, is there anyone out there who can top it and win their own slice of paradise?

Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo and Renner also discussed the most important events for each position on the latest edition of the PFF Draft Podcast, which you can find here:

As the combine gets underway, be sure to watch for more coverage on our website, as well as across our social networks (Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat), where we’ll be posting our reactions to the biggest news throughout the week.

Scouting report for LSU safety Jamal Adams

One of the most complete defensive backs in the nation, Jamal Adams has the ability to play deep and near the line of scrimmage. His work in coverage has been so good that several of our analysts believe he could even play cornerback, particularly in the slot.

PFF analyst draft takes

Our analysts are hard at work analyzing the 2017 draft class and adding their spin on what they’re seeing. The beauty here is that we’re not always in lockstep with each take, and it shows the unique interpretation each of our analysts can have when watching film and analyzing PFF grades and stats. Here is one of our more interesting takes of the week:

I’m going to defend my own take here. It’s not that I don’t think Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes have the chance to be special. I do. It’s just that this feels like the best draft class for top-end defensive talent in several years, and all of the top quarterbacks have fairly big question marks. It’s the question that the Browns face at No. 1 overall. The quarterback they want might not last until pick No. 12, if they even want a quarterback at 12, but do they really want to pass on a player as dominant off the edge as Myles Garrett? The elite players in this draft class just aren’t at the quarterback position.

From the ‘My guys’ list

We have a running document at PFF where analysts list their favorite players to watch and analyze during draft season. They’re not necessarily the best players in the draft, but players an analyst believes in more than the hype surrounding the prospect, or perhaps his expected draft position.

Here’s my take on the guy everyone knows I’m higher on than most, Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez:

Truthfully, I’ve had plenty of eyebrows raised at me for my opinion that Gonzalez should be off the board by the end of day two, both externally, and from my colleagues at PFF. Plenty of them think it’s purely because I’m the company’s lead special teams analyst, while I’ve received tweets along the lines of, “Here we go again, we heard this about Aguayo last year,” I can defend myself against both of those points. I didn’t think former Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo was worth the second-round pick that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent on him, and Gonzalez is a completely different prospect.

The most important reason why he is a better prospect, and one worthy of a selection in the third round, is because Gonzalez has the one thing Aguayo didn’t—a leg from distance. He went seven-for-nine from 50-plus yards least year, his only two misses of the season. To put that in context, only one kicker in the NFL, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, made more field goals from 50-plus yards than Gonzalez did a year ago. Considering that Tucker made our Top 101 players in the NFL this year, I think that’s worthy of a third-round draft pick.

PFF Draft Pass

Stay tuned for a very exciting venture as the PFF Draft Pass will be your way to access the most unique NFL Draft insights in the land. Coming soon!

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

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