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Blog Entry

Prospects boycotting Combine, Draft senseless

Posted on: February 5, 2011 12:24 pm
 
Reportedly among the latest threats by agents and the NFLPA is that incoming 2011 draft propsects may elect not to show up at this month's Scouting Combine or the 2011 draft, itself. 
Quite frankly, I see very little chance of this happening.

Certainly, if prospects elected not to show up at the Combine, it would cause problems for NFL teams -- which is, of course, the point.

While the vast majority of the Combine coverage revolves around who runs the fastest or puts up the most repetitions of 225 pounds, for NFL teams the two most critical elements of the annual Indianapolis trip are the extensive medical testing and the face to face interviews with prospects.

If prospects did not attend the Combine, there is no doubt that it would disrupt teams' preparation. In doing so, it would make the million dollar gambles that each team was making with their owners' money even riskier. I get it.

But who has more to lose in this situation?

The prospects who elected not to come to Indianapolis would be perceived by teams as selfish, mindless drones following the orders of agents and current NFL players -- not the eager-to-please (and get paid to play) prospects that they actually are.

And let's be clear about which of the prospects have the most to lose. It clearly would be the underclassmen. It is especially important for the juniors and redshirt sophomores to attend the Combine as in many cases this is the first time NFL decision-makers have had an opportunity to meet these players. Considering that there are a record 57 underclassmen this year -- with many of them rating as 1st and 2nd round talent -- they typically have the most to gain (or lose) that week. Can you imagine trying to convince a Da'Quan Bowers or Patrick Peterson -- each with a legitimate chance at being the first pick of the draft -- to skip the Combine, entirely? Or what about players like fighting so-called "intangibles" red-flags like Nick Fairley, Ryan Mallett or Robert Quinn? Do you think they'd be eager to waste their greatest opportunity to convince teams that all of the reports of their laziness, poor leadership or reasons for their year-long suspension, respectively, are hogwash?

Sure, teams send their power contingents to invidual player and collegiate Pro Days when prospects don't work out at the Combine, but  if a collective group of prospects boycotted the Combine, rather than a few scouts, coaches or front office executives flying in to watch a prospect test athletically, time+money+travel would have to be set aside for medical testing, Wonderlic testing, interviews, etc.

It would be a logistical nightmare for all with flawed results.

Put bluntly, if the players don't show up at the Combine, they (or their agents) are idiots.

Now, the draft itself, is a different story. NFL teams aren't likely to change their draft board based on whether or not a player is shown on television in the green room as opposed to their parents' living room, after all.

Any leverage the prospects could gain for the NFLPA would likely be in the lost television ratings the networks, league and thus, team owners would receive from the draft's coverage.

But, let's be honest? Do you watch the draft because of the riveting interviews conducted before and after a player is drafted?

Or is it because you want to see who your favorite team picked? They would be making a pick, after all, regardless of which players (if any) were actually attending the draft.

I'm very much on the side of the NFLPA on many of the key issues, but on this particular front, I see very, very little to gain and much to lose. Expect to see the players (all of them) at the Combine. Don't be surprised at all if they show up to Radio City Music Hall, as well.
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