Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we count down to the start of the annual meat market that is the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis ...
• In a dream world, of course, it's supposed to work out for every team like it did for the Giants last year. The trip to the combine is where an NFL team starts to lay the foundation of its annual draft class, and no team got more out of the due diligence it did in late February than the Giants, whose crop of rookies contributed mightily to their storybook run to the Super Bowl title.
Last year at this time, newly named Giants general manager
Where would New York have been without fifth-round tight end
At last year's combine, they were all just guys with numbers and names on the backs of their T-shirts, and we didn't know for certain who was a prospect and who was an imposter. But we know now, and we know the Giants did their homework last February, which helped lead to their big confetti shower in Glendale, Ariz., the following February.
Being able to consistently find players is the toughest trick in the NFL. Reese and the Giants arguably put together the greatest draft class in franchise history in 2007, but an encore is going to be difficult, especially since a Super Bowl win not only adversely affects your draft position but significantly shortens your offseason. Reese and the rest of the Giants personnel will be in Indianapolis a mere 17 days after their conquest of undefeated New England.
It may not be the Giants this year, but some team will use the work it conducts at the combine as a springboard to a great draft and a better season than most will expect. All the hours of player interviews, testing, drill work, medical checks, scouting and face-to-face observation will pay off for some, and in a perfect world, the Giants' fate could befall someone else in 2008.
• For drama and potential long-reaching impact, the combine might not have a bigger moment(s) than the coin flip or flips that will be needed to determine who selects third, fourth and fifth in April's NFL Draft. The Falcons, Raiders and Chiefs all finished 4-12 and had the same strength of schedule, all having played teams that finished with a .516 winning percentage.
The NFL will first flip it off between the Falcons and the Raiders for the third spot, because the Chiefs finished third in the AFC West with a better record in common games over Oakland, meaning Kansas City must draft after the Raiders. If the Falcons win the toss, they will pick third, followed by Oakland and Kansas City. If the Raiders win the toss, then the Falcons and Chiefs will flip for the No. 4 spot.
Just for the sake of conversation, last year's 3-4-5 picks were offensive tackle
Strangely enough, it's the second consecutive year that the No. 3 and 4 spots in the draft have required a coin toss. At last February's combine, the Browns won a coin toss with the Bucs, getting the No. 3 spot and the right to select Thomas. Tampa Bay most likely would have done the same.
• I don't know how it hit you, but
I can't help but think that if we had heard something similar -- or anything of consequence for that matter -- out of Belichick in September, when Spygate first surfaced, the story may not have grown the legs that it grew. Something other than dismissing the topic as "a league matter'' might have gone a long way.
• With nearly the entire league and most agents attending the combine, it also kind of serves as the breeding ground for many offseason trades (not to mention some very discreet, and illegal, free-agency related discussions). It was in Indy last year that Reese -- getting his first wide-scale exposure as the Giants GM to the national media that covers the NFL -- let the cat out of the bag that Buffalo was shopping running back
The Bills and Giants never struck a deal for McGahee, who wound up being moved to Baltimore. In March, New York traded for
The big question then was whether the Giants could ever replace the retired
Not that long ago, Culpepper and Leftwich looked to be the two leading examples of a new breed of plus-sized, big-armed quarterbacks who were large enough and tough enough to withstand the pounding that an NFL passer now takes from defenders who are faster and stronger than ever. Now they're fighting for their careers.
• The NFL Network is kicking off its 26 hours of live coverage of the combine on Thursday, which tops even its 19-hour commitment of last month's Senior Bowl. The NFL Draft is now officially a four-month-long extravaganza. Which is even more amazing when you consider that the entire regular season only lasts four months.
• So it would appear that New England indeed is interested in ex-Dolphins linebacker
• With the possible exception of Kansas City defensive end
Allen bears watching because he's made it known that he won't sign a long-term deal with Kansas City unless he reaches an agreement this offseason. But players such as
• I haven't talked to him since his release, but I'm guessing