Last year, I wrote a breakdown of the history and events that make up the combine. Pretty straightforward, no nonsense stuff, and a worthwhile read if you're not fully aware of what goes down in Indy.
I realized after the combine was over (thanks to an easily confused friend of mine), that one thing that write-up didn't do is break down the schedules so he could see his favorite prospects run their 40-yard dashes.
So this year, I'll look at the groupings and the format of how every invite participates in the combine.
Players are broken down by position, and every position is assigned one of four days to begin their 4-day cycle. Confused? Good. Let's start with the cycle itself.
Day 1 is pretty much the "get this crap out of the way so we can start the combine" day: checking in at the hotel, at the site, making sure your paperwork is in order, verifying you're actually someone who is supposed to be there, some basic medical exams and orientation. Sounds boring, and it is. That's why nobody cares about day 1.
Day 2 is medical day. And no, it's not just a popsicle stick on the tongue. Day 2 is the day to test mental acuity (i.e. the Wonderlic), height and weight (can't really fake those -- ask Andre Smith's manboobs), psychological issues (ask the Titans if these can affect a season. Or remember when the Niners were backing off of Stafford because he didn't deal well with his parents' divorce?), media interviews, and just generally exploring the wonderful mysteries of the human body and mind...to ensure your multi-million dollar investment is worth a multi-million dollar investment (like the Cybex test).
Ah, finally day 3. The stuff of legends. After two days of mostly useless stuff, we get to the meat and potatoes of the combine -- labor talks and rookie briefings! The NFLPA and other league reps brief these young men on how not to be a Plaxico, Vick, Lawrence Phillips, Bam Morris, Nate Newton, or any of the other examples you could put here.
On day 4, for the average NFL fan, the combine actually starts. All the action and sweat of the workouts and drills happens on day 4. Ironically, it's also the last day of the combine. After going through the combine gauntlet and positional drills, the invitees head home.
So, that's the four-day cycle every prospect who attends the combine goes through. But to avoid having to put up to 335 players through the same thing every day, combine officials break up their invitees by position and put certain positions together. Check it out:
Day 1 - Group 1 (P, K, OL), group 2 (OL), group 3 (TE): Feb. 24-27
Day 2 - Group 4 (QB, WR), group 5 (QB, WR), group 6 (RB): Feb. 25-28
Day 3 - Group 7 (DL), group 8 (DL), group 9 (LB): Feb. 26- Mar. 1
Day 4 - Group 10 (DB), group 11 (DB): Feb. 27- Mar. 2
Pretty simple, yeah? One thing I'm not sure and would love some clarification is how they decide to break up the positions that occupy two groups (OLs in groups 1&2, QBs in groups 4&5, etc.). I can't figure out how they decide who gets grouped where. In case you're interested, check out the full invite list with group assignments. Should come in handy on the last day of February when QBs, WRs and RBs put on a show, or March 1st when the Suh vs. McCoy battle will be on full display.