On Wednesday, the annual scouting combine commences in Indianapolis. It runs for six days, with NFL general managers, coaches and scouts scrutinizing 300-plus draft prospects.
The combine serves several purposes, mainly:
• Team collect medical information. This is where the "meat market" aspect to the combine comes into play, as players are put through intensive medical examinations. Sometimes, league doctors will discover a previously unreported injury. Prospects also have to take psychological exams.
• Interviews. Teams are allowed to meet with a designated number of prospects (usually around 20) for about 15 minutes apiece. The Jets consider this a valuable tool when evaluating players. Instead of asking run-of-the-mill questions ("So, tell us about yourself, Andrew...), they often ask players to break down game tape of himself. GM Mike Tannenbaum likes to ask outside-the-box questions such as: What are your pet peeves? If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would they be? Stuff like that. The idea is to find out what makes a player tick.
• The workout. Players are timed and tested in everything from the 40-yard dash to the vertical jump to bench pressing. A year ago, Rex Ryan added some levity to the weight-lifting session when he tried to bench the standard 225 pounds. (Didn't go very well.) Some teams place too much emphasis on combine workouts. The Jets did that in 2008, when they fell in love with OLB Vernon Gholston. His tests were off the charts, but ... well, you know the story.
Some players skip the workout, preferring to hold off until their campus pro day -- and that drives the NFL teams crazy. Here is the combine schedule.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: This is a huge part of the combine. Even though free agency doesn't begin until March 13, team reps and agents will have "unofficial" contact. Technically, when it involves an agent representing a player from another team, it's tampering. But it's hard to police, and rampant.
The trading period doesn't open until March 13, but there's also trade talk -- and there's nothing illegal about that. For instance: Two years ago, Tannenbaum met with Chargers officials at the combine and set the groundwork for the Antonio Cromartie trade.
Team reps also try to hammer out deals with their own free agents. Typically, Tannenbaum will meet with several agents over the course of the week. For example, he could meet with Sione Pouha's agents to discuss a new contract.
LOCAL TIES: Several players from local schools will be in attendance. Here's a rundown, according to the combine:
Rutgers: DE Justin Francis, WR Mohamed Sanu, G Desmond Wynn.
Syracuse: DE Chandler Jones, TE Nick Provo, S Phillip Thomas, G Andrew Tiller.
UConn: WR Kashif Moore, DT Kendall Reyes, K Dave Teggart.
Family ties: Penn State CB D'Anton Lynn (son of Jets RB coach Anthony Lynn) and Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (son of former Jets great Al Toon).
Tomorrow: The Jets' top-10 list.