Talent evaluators differ on prospects sitting out

INDIANAPOLIS — With Tim Tebow not participating in throwing drills at the combine, it means none of the top-rated quarterbacks will be throwing this weekend in front of a league-wide audience.

Tebow joins the quarterback list that already included Dan LeFevour, as well as Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy (the latter three out due to injuries). That short list makes up five of the top six quarterbacks on NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s list.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks posted a piece today suggesting the prospects are missing out on the golden opportunity to showcase their talents – while also aptly pointing out the spirit of the scouting combine is competition.

That subject was broached with several general managers and coaches throughout the day inside the media center, and their reaction was exactly what you’d expect — they want to see the players compete.

“I still don’t know who is or isn’t, but I’m just a firm believer that when you have an event like this, and all the teams are going to be here, if you’re a competitor, come out and compete,” Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said. “Just come out and compete. If you’re good, you’re good.”

Every team has a different method of evaluating talent. Ultimately, most will tell you the biggest influence is game tape. But all want to see competition and how players react. In gauging the reaction of talent evaluators, I found differing opinions on how much the decision to sit out — excluding players dealing with injuries — actually changes their opinions of prospects.

“From my personal standpoint, you can’t really hurt yourself here, all you can do is help yourself,” said 49ers GM Scot McCloughan. “Whatever you don’t do well here — if it is throwing the football, if it is running the 40 — you have your pro day. We’re going to show up again. We need a good football player.

“It hasn’t [ever changed my opinion]. But I’ll tell you this much — the guys who go to the Senior Bowl, they’re top-notch guys, and the guys that come here, and they work — they’re usually the guys who end up in the NFL having good careers.”

Added Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert, “We’re not going to hold it against somebody if they don’t. But, when a player does compete here, the thing he has to realize is he’ll never have an audience like he has here.”

Pioli was on the other end of the spectrum.

“For me personally, yes,” he said. “Again, for other teams it doesn’t. I understand some of the reasons that some of the players and some of the agents feel that players shouldn’t compete here. To me, if you’re a competitor, if you’re a player, if you’re good, you’re going to be good. We all understand that it’s not your receiver or [the receiver] is going to run a different route. We get it. We understand it.”

– Frank Tadych

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