Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert talked to the media and SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday about the entire combine process and what he and the organization get out of the week.
Colbert was asked in his radio interview to give a summary about the week that they spend at the combine.
“The week that we spend here with this collective group of 333 guys is huge,” said Colbert. “To accomplish the medical information that we get, the personal information, the interviews, and of course the workout, you never would be able to do this over a course of six months, let alone six days. So it\’s huge. It\’s huge for everybody to see this group collectively and come out of it with a lot more information than we entered into it.
Colbert was then asked if there was one part of the combine that he prioritizes over another.
“The medical, no question,” said Colbert. “We have to yield to the doctors information and we have professional people that are trying to tell us if these guys are physically fit to move on to the National Football League. That\’s first and foremost and really the personal information, and the character information. The personal interviews have really become a value for us.
“As I stated before, we\’ve watched these guys from august through January in football equipment and helmets. You saw the player but you never knew who the person was. Its always very interesting to finally meet that player in person and talk to him and get a feel for his personality.”
Colbert was then asked if he can usually see through the rehearsed preparedness of a player during the interview process.
“I think you can see through any preparation that a player does,” said Colbert. “It really is hard to hide their true personalities. It\’s like when you watch one player versus another player on film, or during a game, or during practice, you can see the difference, and when you talk to these players, even though they\’ve been prepared, it\’s still hard to mask their true personalities.”
So does Colbert feel that 15 minutes is enough time to spend with 60 players at the combine?
“Sometimes we do,” said Colbert. “Sometimes it\’s a five minute, wow, this guy\’s off the charts great, and sometimes it\’s a five minute, man alive, is this guy a clown. But most times, after about 12 or 13 minutes, you\’ve got a pretty good feel and there are some kids that can\’t tell their story in that timeframe, and they\’re usually one of the thirty that we\’ll bring back to Pittsburgh to further examine.
“We cant learn everything about them. We just come out with a little more information and sometimes it\’s enough, sometimes it isn\’t. Particularly on maybe some positions that requires a lot of intelligence, be it quarterback, be it safety, or be it center, you might want to bring those kids in and visit with them, and put them on the board when you have more time.”
Colbert was asked during his media session at the combine if he thinks 40 yard dash times are overblown. During his response he retold the story about tight end Heath Miller, who never worked out prior to the 2005 draft because he was recovering from a sports-hernia injury.
“I think the 40, again, our evaluations are really done August through January with the reviewing of the video tape. Sometimes we know a player\’s 40, sometimes we do not. If we get a 40 and he runs great, and we like him as a player, that\’s awesome. If he runs great and he\’s not a good player, it doesn\’t matter. If he\’s a good player and doesn\’t run good, it\’s probably not going to matter a lot. I always talk about Heath Miller, who we drafted with the 31st pick of the first round. Heath never worked out. He had a sports hernia surgery and to this day I couldn\’t tell you what Heath Miller ran in the 40, and quite honestly, it doesn\’t matter.”
I, like many others, love to watch combine and play with the data that it produces. That being said, over the years I have immersed myself in watching as much game tape on as many different players as I possibly can leading up to the draft. 40 times are great. Reps of 225 pounds on the bench is also great, but when I see these numbers I often times am forced to work backwards like many others out there depending on how much I already know or don\’t know about a given player.
Like Colbert pointed out, evaluations of players are already done prior to the team arriving to Indianapolis. They already know how strong a player is or isn\’t. They already know how fast and athletic a player is or isn\’t. The combine just backs up the information that they already have.
In other words, the numbers are fun to look at, but the tape never lies. I sure would like to be privy to those Wonderlic scores, however, and would love to be a fly on the wall during those 15 minute interviews. That\’s where the really good information is at the combine.