INDIANAPOLIS -- As representatives of the Broncos and the NFL's 31 other teams arrive here for the National Scouting Combine, it's appropriate to remind everyone of what the Combine is not.
It's not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation.
There's a ceiling to where "workout wonders" are drafted, which demonstrates how the process continues to evolve from two decades ago, when defensive end Mike Mamula shot up to the No. 7 overall pick on the strength of a phenomenal workout.
These days, a stellar performance at the Scouting Combine – when it's preceded by on-field performance that doesn't jump off the tape -- inspires teams to take a second or third look at the player. And shaky workout numbers – whether at the Combine or a Pro Day – when combined with good tape lead to bargains, like the one the Broncos found in Danny Trevathan during the sixth round of the 2012 draft.
On-field workouts don't begin until Friday. But until then, there's plenty to discuss. Media interviews with players begin Wednesday with kickers and punters, tight ends and offensive linemen, and continue with wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks on Thursday, and defensive players Friday and Saturday.
Those interviews often provide memorable nuggets.
Last year, Isaiah Burse told me that he wanted to join the Broncos so he could learn how to play slot receiver from Wes Welker, who spent his career shattering the limits and possibilities of what the slot man could be. Less than three months later, he was at organized team activities at Dove Valley, asking Welker questions and watching the veteran work.
Two years ago, Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead told a small group of reporters – it couldn't have been more than two or three – that he believed he would run the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. We were incredulous.
Wouldn't you know it, that's what he did. By sprinting 40 yards down the sideline at Lucas Oil Stadium in 4.65 seconds, Armstead sealed his place in the draft's second day, and the raw, athletic project was the Saints' full-time starter at left tackle for much of the 2014 season.
This week, most of the attention will focus on the top two quarterbacks in the draft class, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston, and whether either is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, for different reasons with either. Winston's press conference is likely to be the most scrutinized and well-attended of the week, as he will face pointed questions about character issues – queries that could be repeated by teams that choose to interview him during the Combine.
Each team is limited to 60 players with which they can have formal interviews at the Scouting Combine, so for every one player the Broncos meet, there will be 4.38 that they do not. But all-star games like the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl provided some interview opportunities.
Further, a lack of interviews does not mean a lack of interest. When the Broncos selected cornerback Bradley Roby with the No. 31 pick last year, he admitted "surprise" when the Broncos called. In the second round, wide receiver Cody Latimer admitted, "I never heard anything about the Broncos, so it was a little bit of a shock to me."
So when you see reports about the Broncos meeting with certain players – including from my Twitter feed – it doesn't mean much. This is due diligence time, whether it's with a sit-down interview – or just by scrutinizing the player's workout.
But there's still plenty to monitor over one of the high-water marks of the offseason. Here's a breakdown of what's to come over the next few days.
- Offensive linemen, specialists and tight ends speak to media
- Head Coach Gary Kubiak's press conference; 8:30 a.m. MST
- Running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers meet with media
- EVP/GM John Elway's press conference, 12:30 p.m. MDT
- Defensive linemen and linebackers meet with media
- On-field workouts for OLs and TEs
- Defensive backs meet with media
- On-field workouts for RBs, QBs and WRs
- On-field workouts for DLs and LBs
- On-field workouts for DBs