About the author


Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

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    That guy throwing his shoe through the window sounds like a psychopath. I’d hire him.

  2. 2


    I think that it is a media phenomenon much more than a ‘professional’ phenomenon. The media has really latched onto the draft process as a method of expanding its market for the NFL product. The combine combines two things that are easily understood by the mass media and the consumer of mass media: human interest (the interview process) and simple, easily understood (although fairly meaningless) stats (bench press, 40 times, etc.). I sincerely doubt that GMs, scouts, and coaches put nearly as much stock into the combine as do general fans and the media. Maybe they do, though, it is really hard to say because no team is going to talk in anything more than vague generalities about their evaluation process; suffice to say, several sports statisticians (the inimitable Brian Burke being one of them) have demonstrated that NFL teams in general are getting better at evaluating and drafting players. However, there will always be plenty of busts.

    The problem lies in several areas. The first is the high variability of football stats. Because football is such a complex, team-oriented sport any one players stats can vary a great deal from game to game and year to year. Second, many of the successful things players do on the field cannot be easily converted into a statistic. Third, it is impossible to project college stats into the NFL because the college game is so different; the type of schemes and the huge disparity in talent within a team and between teams being the primary drivers of this phenomenon.

    Because of all this, a lot of the draft is, and will remain, pure luck. Again, several statisticians have pointed out that while teams are getting better at evaluating talent, so much of the process is just plain luck because there is such a massive number of variable involved. With all the built-in (and likely insoluable in the medium term) shortcomings of the ‘objective’ evaluation process, it should come as no surprise that the ‘subjective’ evaluation process of the interview are seen as important. When the objective process isn’t much better than a coin flip, it would be just as logical to have a chicken prepare your draft board.

    So, I don’t quite understand the hostility towards the whole combine. It benefits you, Czabe, as a member of the media because you get to talk about the NFL more. It benefits the fans because it gives us more of the NFL product that we love. And it probably doesn’t really hurt the teams at all, or at least no any more than any of the other stupid things they do (like sub-optimal playcalling). Sit back and enjoy the fun of seeing how the guys from your school(s) do. Learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.

  3. 3


    Scouts can watch film and talk to coaches and other people involved with the player. But, the combine is the one place where if he ever must be at his best, this is it. Even if he has to fake it…is he capable of faking it?
    With every bust that gets through (i.e.:Johnny Football), the ‘red-flag’ radar gets more refined.

  4. 4


    I’d say you may as well continue the interviews. At the very least you will weed out the guys who are such a big idiot they can’t even pull it together to act like they give a crap. For all we know, a lot may already get weeded out due to that. (probably not)

    Have to agree with the whiteboard assessment. That should be more of a look back at his college tapes to see how he reacted under pressure and compare it to the “proper” response in any of those situations.

  5. 5


    There was a red flag regarding the worthlessness of Jamarcus Russell, and it came from an interview none the less:


    It just seems like the Raiders were blind to it.

  6. 6


    At least if you interview, you can see first hand if they smell like weed.


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