Tim Heitman | 2018 Dec 29
Tim Heitman | 2018 Dec 29

So often this time of year, we hear members of the sports media say that a certain player or players “stock is on the rise” after the NFL scouting combine. Does that really happen? The answer is no. That saying is uttered in the media but not by clubs. Here's why:

During the college football season, each club sent in several scouts to schools to view and evaluate players. That would include the area scout, a cross check scout, an “over the top scout” and perhaps the College Scouting Director or General Manager. It is safe to say by the end of the season that clubs can have from three to five separate reports on all the top prospects. It is also safe to say that almost none of those grades are the same, as they will have a high to low range.

Following the season, each club has meetings in which they go over all the players graded, and then it begins to create a value board for the draft. At these meetings there are a number of players who are also totally eliminated from consideration by that particular club. It could be because of size, character, play and so on. Clubs start with a list of well over 1,000 names and they whittle that list down to a more manageable number by the time they get to the combine.

At these meetings, not only are prospects eliminated, but each player is assigned a preliminary grade based on his fall evaluation and estimated measurables. College teams rarely have spring timing days any more; rather, rising seniors are usually just weighed and measured. With underclassmen who end up entering the draft the following year, clubs seldom have even a verified height and weight, so everything is estimated.

That said, all clubs go into the combine with an estimated set of measurables and a preliminary grade on each player based on both his performance in the fall and these estimates. Each player then goes into the combine with an expectation of how he will work out. Once the combine begins, the player either meets those expectations, does better than expected or worse.

When a player meets expectations, his grade seldom changes. It’s when a player does better or worse than expected that his grade could change. Why do I say could? Exceeding or failing to meet expectations means that the preliminary grade on the player could be wrong. After the combine, the clubs study all the data compiled and review the tape of each player. When a player does better or worse than expected, it also means the teams should watch more game tape to see where they may have missed on that player.

To give an example, on Saturday Notre Dame WR Myles Boykin’s whole workout was much better than anticipated. Based on tape, many estimated his speed at about 4.60. At the combine he ran much faster (4.41) and also excelled in all the measurable drills. His vertical jump was 43.5”, his long jump was 11’8” and his 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle were off the charts. Does that mean that all of a sudden his grade jumps from Day 3 to perhaps Day 2? No. When we watch Boykins' tape, we don’t see the rare athleticism we saw at the combine.

What will happen, is clubs will view the tape more closely to see what they may have missed. Perhaps teams will also send in a coach for a private workout or attend his pro day to gather more information. The question of why he tests far better than he plays has to be answered.

It is after all that work is done that Boykin’s grade might change. After the March pro days, all clubs meet to put together their final board. This is when all workout, interview and medical information is entered into the equation. It is at these meetings that final grades on players are set. For most players, their grade will change some from their preliminary grade. A player might get a much higher grade from one club, but another might keep that player at the same grade. Remember, clubs look at players differently and no two clubs have the same draft board.

So the next time you hear that such and such player is “rising” up boards, don’t believe it. What is really happening is clubs are doing more work on the player to make sure they have the correct grade on the player.