NFL Draft

The Green Bay Packer staff, including college scouting coordinator Danny Mock, got the ball rolling on opening day of the 2003 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.<P>

The combine opened with the of medical examinations for the first group – offensive line, punters and kickers. It's just the first wave of hundreds of athletes who will be tested, measured, timed, interviewed and otherwise critiqued in the RCA Dome as a precursor to April's NFL Draft.< p> The 320 athletes in attendance are actually in the minority. There are far more NFL personnel – and more media members – in attendance. There are 42 representatives from the Packers alone, from GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman and coaches to the scouting crew, to medical staffers, to video director Bob Eckberg.

Mock cautioned that while the combine is a big deal, is isn't an all-or-nothing deal for NFL hopefuls.

"The media sometimes send the message that guys can make it or break it at the Combine," said Mock. "I just cringe when I hear that. It's an invaluable time when you can see everybody all at once and kind of narrow guys down, but it's just one piece of the pie."

The rest of the picture includes college visits, game scouting, bowl and all-star games and the following lengthy analysis.

"Because the media and the agents get so involved, and because the season is over and the draft is on the horizon, the Combine has become a high-profile event," Mock said. "All the draft-nicks give guys an arrow up or down depending on if they had a good or bad workout. But the bottom line is that it's not always going to be based on that. It's a matter of, is he a player or not?"

This year's combine includes a few changes, including limits on interviews and a longer stay for each position group. Players travel through the Combine in four four-day waves, instead of three-day waves as in the past.

Day one for new arrivals starts off with pre-exam X-rays and Cybex testing, which analyzes the strength and balance in the thigh muscles. A three-hour window for in-depth team interviews. Day two begins with a physical and a recording of each player's measureables (height, weight, arm length, hand span, etc.). Athletes are then given a 15-minute taped interview that will be circulated to all the NFL teams. Players also bench press and take the famed Wonderlic exam, which is football's short version of the SAT. The third day is made up of meetings and profile testing.

Day four is for the workout, which consists of the 40-, 20- and 10-yard dashes, the shuttle run, broad jump, vertical leap and position drills. Many scouts are expecting sprint times to be lower than in past years, thanks to an extra day of rest after Cybex testing.

Official data from the Combine will be sent to all 32 NFL teams, but the Packers and most teams won't wait for that. Team staff already did their work at the combine, interviewing players, recording times and collecting information.

Mock said players who don't attend the Combine are at no automatic disadvantage to the ones that do, but admitted that it was helpful for NFL crews to see the players in similar conditions. "Guys don't have anything to hide if they have confidence in their ability," Mock said, pointing out that players can go through another workout at their school if displeased with their showing this week .

"That's the main reason they began the Combine," Mock said. "There's no way we could fly in 323 players to get probed and poked and X-rayed."

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