In two days, we begin the annual ritual of obsessing over 40 times, hand size, bench press reps and all the other non-game tape talking points that dominate the collective consciousness of media, fans and anyone else with an eye on the NFL.
It's time for the NFL Combine.
Here's the official list of invited prospects, but as always, the top names are all coming to Indy. My personal favorite aspect of the official invite list is unearthing the legal names of some players. A.J. McCarron? More like Raymond. Talk about living a lie...better have some answers ready for the interview portion. And there is no way I'm not calling Storm Johnson by his real name anymore. Westleigh is that truth.
In any case, there were a couple snubs; give the gents at Mocking the Draft a listen as their recent podcast ran down the notable exclusions.
Here's a quick rundown of what I'm going to be interested in the most.
A lot of this will be determined by the decisions to come of who will end up not participating in the throwing drills. Think about these names: Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Blake Bortles (UCF), Derek Carr (Fresno St.), Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), Brett Smith (Wyoming), David Fales (San Jose St.). NFL teams have a ton of work to do to filter through those guys and figure out where they fit on their boards and if any top Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Part of that work can be made easier with a display at the combine on Sunday when they hit the field.
Why it matters for the Rams: with the #2 overall pick, the Rams are surrounded by teams who could be looking to take a QB with their first round pick. The trade value of that pick is immense, so getting these guys settled out for front offices will be as central to the Rams' pick/decision to trade is a necessary step.
There's a bit of an irony coming up with all the scrutiny that Michael Sam will bring to the combine (yawn) alongside all the inspection of other men's bodies that comes with the combine every year. Sure, we'll make too much of someone's wingspan or hand measurement or height or lack thereof of any of those. But we talk about them for a reason. They do matter...somewhat.
Why it matters for the Rams: The CW has the Rams in play for every top offensive tackle right now. So any surprising results from the weigh-in and subsequent measurings of linemen on Thursday will be front and center information for the Rams.
I made the case the Rams' top need is a go-to wideout, so obviously I'll be keeping a trained eye on their workout sessions on Sunday. Not sure why you wouldn't want to too.
Why it matters for the Rams: The Rams are already doing due diligence on Clemson product Sammy Watkins. Expect that even if there's nothing made public, they're doing the same for other WR prospects. This week will be part of that effort.
It's our head coach and general manager. Talking. Kinda interested in that stuff.
Why it matters for the Rams: Uh...it's our head coach and general manager. Talking. Kinda interested in that stuff. We went over this already.
Wednesday, Feb. 19: Registration, hospital pre-exam and X-rays, orientation, interviews
Thursday, Feb. 20: Measurements, medical examinations, media, interviews
Friday, Feb. 21: NFLPA meeting, psychological testing, kickers and specialists workout, bench press, interviews
Saturday, Feb. 22: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams drills
Sunday, Feb. 23: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers drills
Monday, Feb. 24: Defensive linemen, linebackers drills
Tuesday, Feb. 25: Defensive backs drills
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
TV: NFL Network, Saturday-Tuesday
Live Stream: nfl.com/combine/live