Former Steelers' 10th round draft pick Mike Mayock is working his 11th NFL Scouting Combine for the NFL Network and As usual, Mayock is doing so with some definite opinions regarding what's taking place, some of which he expressed this week on a conference call.
Following is Mayock's take on a few of the nuances of the evaluation process, including:
The value of measurables:** "I think more mistakes are made because of the measurable piece of the combine than anywhere else. You get a little excited with height, weight, speed. Sometimes, you want to allow the numbers to outweigh the playing tape.
"From my perspective, I always say fast guys run fast, slow guys run slow. It's only a story when the opposite happens."
The importance of the 40-yard dash: "I tell kids all the time, 'Try and knock it out of the park at the combine because then you're done. If you don't run at the combine, then it puts a ton of pressure to run at your pro day. And if you're not happy with that time, then you're kind of screwed.' If healthy I would absolutely run."
The relative value of the drills: "I don't think the 40 is that important for offensive linemen and defensive linemen. I think it is very important for skill-position people
"I think the change-of-direction stuff, the short shuttle and the three-cone (drill) is important for the linebackers, the defensive backs, the running backs. You get to see quickness, change of direction. You see whether a guy is quicker than he is fast in a straight line, and those are important things."
The toughest position to evaluate:** "I think quarterback is harder than ever. Quarterback was hard, anyway, just because of the intangibles. How hard a worker is he? How much does the game mean? Is he the first guy in every morning? Can he translate what he sees on tape out on the field in 2.3 seconds?
"Quarterback is the hardest evaluation today because the systems are so diametrically different from college to the NFL. It's getting to the point where you're almost grateful when you get someone like (Florida State's) Jameis Winston who comes out of the pro style. So quarterback is by far the hardest."
The second-toughest position to evaluate: "I find linebacker hard to do, especially the off-the-line linebacker. It's easy to see the edge guys. The inside, off-the-line 4-3 guys are difficult because they might be coached differently. Get downhill, get downhill; he might be coached that he has a backside B gap and he has to wait to make sure that cutback doesn't come. So sometimes I think those linebackers for me are hard to do."
The significance of off-the-field issues in a player's evaluation: "You sit him down and you have a conversation with him and his parents and you do everything you can to get to know the kid and his family situation. Then you have the psychologists tell you 'here's what he tested,' and at the end of the day, tough decision to make. What happens sometimes is the ability and the talent of the athlete overwhelms the other analysis, and that's where we make a lot of mistakes.
"So how do you not mess up? I'm not sure there is a right answer other than being a little more conservative. And I think we all get overwhelmed with talent and you want to buy into the fact that you're building or your organization can change people when most of the time statistically, it can't."
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown and WR Martavis Bryant began their careers at the combine.