The NFL season is exceptionally short, but you could argue that the extended season truly doesn’t end at all.
This week in Indianapolis, hundreds of young men will compete to show off their athletic ability. Ever wanted to see a five-foot-six man do a high jump, and a four-hundred-pound bloke run a 40-yard dash? This week is for you.
But as is always the situation, the showcase will act as a big signifier to some teams. The thing is, the common trend among these teams is that they’re normally terrible and over-analyse running straight for 40 yards. This is something that almost nobody will do at pro level.
Here are four teams that will completely overreact to Combine showings this week.
Ah, the Ravens. They got rid of a quarterback (admittedly, a poor, overpaid quarterback) who won them a Super Bowl to make room for a quarterback who can’t throw the ball.
Lamar Jackson doesn’t need weapons, he needs to give up football. But if they’re insisting on him being the starter, they better load up on skill positions. And this is where most teams fall down.
Any player that runs a good .40 time will be elevated considerably on their draft board because his separation will mean Lamar is less likely to throw an interception. And, with them focusing on the run game again, Baltimore will need a bruiser of a back to carry this out.
They’re well on course to be overreaching the most in the 2019 NFL Draft because of this.
If you think the theme here is inept front offices, I assure you there are no coincidences in football.
With the imminent release of Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins are now flying down a different path – one that is legacy-lending and not new-era filled.
Tannehill’s antics in the pocket were un-Dolphin-like and they need to revert to pocket passing if they’re to have success again.
So, when a big strong small-school prospect throws the ball halfway to Illinois this week, you can bet your life that Chris Grier’s heart will skip a few beats.
New Orleans Saints
On the other end of the desperation scale come the New Orleans Saints.
Why you ask? Well, simply put, the window is closing on Drew Brees. He’s likely facing into his last season and they need to win a Super Bowl now. Because of this, expect them to focus more on a key position of need – tight end.
Creating another mismatch at the position means the focus can move off Alvin Kamara, and with Benjamin Watson their standout tight end, it’s definitely time to invest.
The problem for New Orleans is that this tight end class is the best it’s been in five years. There’s no college tight end considerably better than the rest. So any form of an impressive showing in the physical tests will see them jump at them.
Incredibly, the Raiders only hired little more than a television personality as their head coach, and then they doubled down and brought in Mike Mayock. One of two things will happen here: either he has limited control over draft picks and he’s there simply as PR, or he will shoot from the hip to appear edgy, like his television persona.
Either way, the organisation who like to add circus pieces in lieu of football IQ are about to outdo even themselves.
Sometimes, when you need every single position to improve your team, you lose focus. Anyone who has a good showing will become a prime target and you can hit the reset button in Oakland for the third time in three years.
Gruden and Mayock leading a team – dearie me!