The 2012 National Football League’s Scouting Combine begins this week in Indianapolis and who would have ever thought something like this would grow into such a ‘must see TV’ event? While coaches, scouts and general managers find spots throughout the Lucas Oil Stadium seats, potential NFL superstars will strut their stuff in hopes of increasing their draft stock with millions watching and DVR’ing at home.
The combine has become a place where dreams can be made and shattered in the blink of an eye. Strength and physical appearance do not always translate to instant success on the field. Just ask Mike Mamula about that.
Prospects are interviewed, poked and prodded. They are put through numerous physical challenges ranging from the 40-yard dash to the broad jump. They are put through physicals where doctors go over their bodies like a teenage boy going over Kate Upton on the cover Sports Illustrated which is to say “very thoroughly!”
The NFL Combine is tantamount to a cattle auction where ranchers look over the stock and must make judgments on what they see knowing that the decision could have significant impacts for years to come. That impact could be positive or negative or it could be the fatal word every NFL team wants to avoid which is ‘bust.’
Think of Ryan Leaf and you think ‘bust.’ You think of Tony Mandarich and you conjure up an image of his Sports Illustrated cover and then think, ‘bust.’ JaMarcus Russell? Bust. And so on… No fan wants this term associated with their team so they take a vested interest in the combine as well.
Every combine is vital to a team’s success, but for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year it is of utmost importance that they get things right. The Steelers are already in the midst of a rocky offseason and a poor draft would mean they had a poor combine so you can see the importance. The Steelers must find players who can contribute almost immediately in positions along the offensive line, nose tackle and potentially linebacker.
General Manager Kevin Colbert has to prove that he is willing to draft an offensive lineman in the higher rounds. This is something he has not been know to do both during his time in Pittsburgh but also his years in Detroit. The offensive line must be addressed and if there are no plans to do so through free agency then Colbert must step out of his comfort zone and get a guy that can play right away.
Obviously the course of the draft 23 spots ahead of the Steelers can dictate just how and who the team selects but this is not the year to make a ‘sexy’ pick because a guy is available. The Steelers have significant needs that have to be addressed.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin will be at the combine along with many of his assistants including new offensive coordinator Todd Haley whose presence on the staff could factor in the decision of who this team drafts. Believe me; we’ll know about his input whether he tells us not.
Sit back and enjoy the combine from the comfort of your own homes Steelers’ fans. If you’re like me, you’ll probably drool over the fastest and strongest and smartest guys on the field. What you must remember however is that there is no such thing as a ‘sure thing’ at any position. Right Jamain Stephens?