Getting down to business: Berry, Dorsey & the NFL Combine

Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Eric Berry situation is progressing. Nevermind that there have been conflicting reports over the last week as to which direction they are going currently. Never mind that. The fact that both sides are leaking updates to the media and public is what matters.

John Dorsey was asked about where it stands at the NFL Combine press conference. his reply was:

"“Eric’s agent and I have had really good discussions the last couple weeks. We will continue to build on those discussions as we speak. I’m scheduled to meet with him this weekend in Indianapolis.”"

Dorsey made one other statement at the combine on Thursday that should be filed away in the back of your mind as well. There is some subtle, or not-so-subtle, communications going on here. When asked about the franchise tag, he replied:

"“I think the deadline is Tuesday, probably 3 p.m. Central Time. As we move forward here, I’ve used a franchise tag in the past, and it’s not out of the possibility I could use it again.”"

That is a telling statement and one that we talked about on the CWM podcast this week. A lot of league business will get done this week in Indianapolis. We also went into this draft class with Jon Ledyard, Senior Draft Analyst for Here’s the show:

Subjective Value

Some will tell you the combine’s value is will because NFL football isn’t played in tank tops and sprinter shorts. Some will tell you that despite the truth of that complaint, the combine is critical in correctly valuing prospects in relation to each other.

I am one of those and I will explain exactly why.

NCAA football employs such a wide variety of schemes, sets and functional requirements for there players that can be very difficult to compare players to each other on film. The combine lets you line all these prospects up and compare them apples-to-apples in athletic and football-functional testing.

Film is still the most important aspect of a player evaluation at the end of the day. Hands down, no questions asked. The combine fills in the majority of the gaps on questions of athleticism when the players weren’t asked to perform those plays/schemes in college. It gives the personnel decision-makers an idea of a player’s capabilities and lets them read between the lines.

With that in mind, here are a few things to watch for in the combine drills.

Offensive Line
The offensive tackle class is not deep. The Top-4 tackles are guys that could help the Chiefs, but at No. 28, they may all be gone. Beyond that, the second day tackles all lack something import for Andy Reid’s scheme. The high-day-3 guys will need time to develop. They are this year’s Laurent Duvernay-Tadif.

For everyone after the Top-4… What’s his ten-split? The 40 doesn’t matter for linemen. Is his kick-slide smooth and quick? He will likely face Von Miller and Khalil Mack a lot. Can he mirror and keep his butt level down?

Defensive line
On the other hand, the defensive line class is incredibly deep. The Chiefs should be able to find a replacement for Jaye Howard and Mike Devito on the 2nd day. That is a luxury the team can take advantage of and look for impact player at another position while having the d-line class to fall back on. For defensive lineman and even edge defenders… Can they change direction for stunts/twists? The 3-cone drill can give you an idea. Von Miller ran his in a screaming 6.7 seconds in 2011. Are they quick explosive off the ball (vertical and broad jumps)?

Defensive backs

The 2016 cornerbacks are a beleaguered group. There is really only one prime time Top-10 prospect. There is a small group of late 1st-early second round guys, but a good size group of mid-2nd and 3rd round corners. For a corner who fits the Sutton system, meaning a man/press-man scheme, there are several indicators to watch for.

In reality, there are few times on the field that a corner will turn and run 40 yards in a straight line but it gives you an idea of long speed. the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle give an idea of the ability to stay with a receiver’s route and the recovery speed. Marcus Peters was good, but no great at all of these criteria.

Peters excelled in the drills. Can this year’s group track the ball in the air? Can they flip their hips and go? Can they leap enough to win a jump-ball?

Bottom line

At the end of the day, the combine testing shows athleticism that can or must be developed at the next level. The combine’s greatest value is in either confirming the film, displaying hidden potential that went untapped in college or a drawback the player was able to cover-up with football IQ and instincts.

I’ll post the “2016 Draft Science” series in April and talk more about the combine results, player productivity and draft philosophy.

Until then, enjoy the combine!