It’s February in the NFL, and that means one thing for teams and their scouting departments: the Scouting Combine. Every year at this time, the top draft prospects gather in Indianapolis, strip down to their underwear, and show the football world what they’ve got.
Although many of the players have been scouted by NFL teams during their respective college seasons, now is the time that scouts get to measure the prospects against each other. Who is the fastest? Who is the strongest? We find that out at the Scouting Combine.
A year ago, the general manager Jerry Reese had his eye on Odell Beckham Jr., whom the Giants would end up picking No. 12 overall in the NFL Draft. It was in Indianapolis where scouts got to see if Beckham’s measurable athleticism matched up with his on-field performance at Louisiana State.
“He was fast and he caught the ball,” said Reese. “He really caught the ball nice. We call it arrogant hands. He had that. That caught our attention and he was really fast.”
No matter how quickly Beckham ran the 40-yard dash, no one could have predicted that he would gain 1,305 receiving yards and score 12 touchdowns in just 11 NFL games during his rookie campaign. Still, the Giants had a feeling he was something special.
“We thought he was a good player, we really did,” said Reese. “We thought he was a terrific player and he obviously had the injuries early on and everyone was down on him a little bit. We tried to put him back in there a little too soon. With those hamstrings, you just have to rest them and let them heal.”
Once Beckham was healthy, he was able to turn in one of the most outstanding rookie season of all time. Now the question is whether or not the Giants can unearth another gem in the first round. Thanks to the team’s 6-10 finish in 2014, it selects ninth in the upcoming draft. At that spot, Reese and company should be able to find a player who has produced on the field as well as at the Combine.
“With us, like most teams, it is what you do on the field,” said Reese. “[That] weighs the most when you are evaluating a player. You just fill in some holes and some of the blanks with the running and things they do at the combine, [such as] the interviews. What they do on the field carries the most weight with us.” Players don’t get to be top-10 picks by not being special on the field. The Giants will have to pick from a host of terrific athletes come April 30, so taking a second look at the best ones this week won’t hurt their chances of making another winning selection.