The Scouting Combine is a fact-finding mission for NFL teams as offseason plans take shape.
Although television broadcasts highlight the workouts, the combine is a hub for teams to check a few final boxes before setting their draft boards. For example, weigh-ins to get official measurements, medical checks by team doctors, and prospect interviews for some face time with the future draft picks allow clubs to complete their evaluations before prospects even take the field inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for their on-field workouts. Then, it’s all about talent evaluators confirming their priors from film study.
The on-field portion of the week is often referred to as the least important element of the combine. Still, they’re used to confirm what we see on film is real. For instance, a wide receiver might appear to have blazing speed. Is that backed up by his 40-yard dash time or not? If it is, great. If not, it’s back to the tape to ensure your eyes aren’t lying.
Despite executives often downplay the workouts in Indianapolis, the bottom line is that stocks rise and fall every year based on what transpires on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.
With the entire NFL world converging on Indianapolis this week, here are ten Patriots-related storylines we’ll monitor at the NFL Combine:
1. Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski’s Arm Length, Yes, Arm Length
Although it sounds antiquated to worry about arm length for offensive linemen, the reality is that Skoronski’s chances of being available at the 14th overall pick might depend on his weigh-in at the combine. According to reports, the Northwestern product who wins with excellent leverage, hand technique, footwork, and savvy projects to have shorter arms under the 33-inch threshold. If that’s the case, most teams will likely view him as a guard, and that could lead to him falling out of the top ten because he would no longer project as a starting left tackle. Why does arm length for offensive tackles matter? Long arms create a larger margin for error, allowing tackles to establish the first meaningful contact and keep pass-rushers from getting their hands inside their frames. The Patriots don’t typically stress about things like arm length, former offensive line coach Dante Scarnnechia isn’t a big believer in it being meaningful, and recent studies show very little correlation between NFL success and arm length for tackles. However, certain teams still prioritize it, and if Skoronski’s arms pass the test, he’ll likely be a top-ten pick.
2. Do Top OTs Broderick Jones and Paris Johnson Test Themselves Out of Pats Range?
Along the same lines, Johnson and Jones round out the consensus top-three tackles who all project as top-half of the first-round selections. This duo projects as starting left tackles at the next level, fitting the prototype with fewer concerns about body types and measurables. With that said, Johnson’s athletic testing in the past hasn’t been spectacular, while Jones needs a strong week in Indy to solidify his stock as the high-ceiling upside pick among the group.