Combine is the time for first impressions

INDIANAPOLIS — For anyone who believes the NFL Scouting Combine is all about the numbers — as in vertical jumps, bench-press repetitions and cone drills — it’s time to reset that perspective.

Sure, those numbers are important as talent evaluators fill in any remaining gaps on their player profiles or see a performance that causes them to go back and look at more game tape. But along with the medical examinations conducted over the seven days of the combine, the interview sessions that take place allow coaches and general managers to get the up-close and personal look that only scouts have had up until this point.

“During this combine, the thing that I’m looking for is all of the intangibles that you really can’t see on film,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “When you look at film, that’s really the determining factor. But when you come here, you have a chance to see how a guy is wired up, you have a chance to interview a guy, a chance to kind of get a feel for what he’s like. Does he fit?”

The interview process is one part meet-and-greet, one part speed dating and another part exam.

In a ballroom not far from Lucas Oil Stadium, each team occupies a table, where scouts and position coaches have 15 minutes with each prospect. Across the street at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, teams have private rooms, where the prospects sit for 15 minutes –- which often includes diagramming plays and formations on boards — with coaches and GMs.

In both cases, a horn blows, and the process repeats — over the course of several hours. These sessions rotate through each of the different position groups and last late into the night each of the first three days a prospect is here. Indeed, many of the most important moments at the combine take place behind closed doors.

— Frank Tadych

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