INDIANAPOLIS – They'll be running the 40-yard dash here this week. They'll also be doing the bench press repetitions with 225 pounds on the bar.
The distance is 40 yards, the weight on the bar is 225, the drills are what the drills are because that's the way they've always been. Maybe it's time to change, to tweak some of what goes on at the NFL Combine every year so that the entire exercise is as beneficial as it can be for the 32 teams that spend millions of dollars on the scouting process each and every year.
General Manager Kevin Colbert is part of a group of NFL officials currently looking at how things are done at this annual event, and everything is on the table. Whether certain things should be eliminated and replaced with something else totally, whether things should be tweaked to better provide the information teams need to evaluate these prospects more completely and accurately, or maybe even whether things are as good as they can be as they are right now.
"We're in a review process, and really, you always were kind of (in a review process) and had opportunities to offer your input, but it will be a more formal approach form here on out," said Colbert. "You don't want to get away from the traditional drills that we've done, because you have so much information stored over the years for a comparison. But you don't want to grow stale, either. So we'll look at what we do, whether there is value in it. And really, there might be value in it for the Steelers, but there might not be (value in it) for another team. So we have to do what's collectively best for the league."
And one of the tweaks very well could happen with the drill that has come to be a staple of the whole scouting process: the 40-yard dash.
"We've always talked about the 40-yard dash. The 40 has been in the game for a lot of years. Is it really necessary for an offensive lineman? Probably not. Does an offensive linemen have to run 20 yards? Well, he may have to get to a safety at 15 yards, so if he can run 20, he can run 15. Same principle. Is a 10-yard dash important for him? Yeah, because he has to reach a linebacker at maybe 5-7 yards away. So, there's still value, but is he really ever going to have to run 40 yards? That might be something just off the top of my head that we need to examine, but we'll look at each drill in that manner and say, 'What's the real pertinence for the whole league, and not just us?'"
During the rest of his media tour here today, Colbert also addressed the following issues:
On drafting "bigger" cornerbacks:**
"There are bigger receivers, and so you want guys who can match up physically. But we always try to evaluate a cornerback with, 'Could he cover Antonio Brown?' So size is not necessary to cover Antonio Brown, but superior athletic ability and skill is what's required. That's the standard we try to use. Could this guy cover Antonio? If the answer is negative, and while there are a lot of guys who might fall into that category, that's more of what we're looking for than just stereotyping and saying, 'We need length.'"
On Ryan Shazier' 2015 and his cap number for 2016:
"Lawrence is still a highly productive player. As the year went on, I thought he played better down the stretch. It was a little uncertain with Ryan (Shazier) in and out of the lineup, and I think once Ryan established himself as the other linebacker, Lawrence's play improved. If you put those two together, I think it's a pretty dynamic group. Right now Lawrence is under contract, and he's still a productive player for us. It's our job to make it all fit."
On whether the Steelers will look for a receiving TE to replace Ben Roethlisberger:
"Without a Heath Miller, you still have an Antonio Brown, you still have a Le'Veon Bell, a Markus Wheaton, a Martavis Bryant. So I don't know how big a part of the pass offense a tight end would be. It will depend on their abilities as players to contribute within our group. They might contribute more in the passing game with other teams than they would with us, because we have some other weapons available."
On Maurkice Pouncey:
"He is progressing very well. He is spending most of his time in Pittsburgh, because he's able to do more things beyond just rehab now. He has been here the majority of the time, but right now all systems are go."
On Le'Veon Bell:
"He'll be ready when he's ready. There's no timetable coming from us. His health and his ability to return at 100 percent are the most important things."