Scouts will weigh, measure, test, time and interview 317 draft-eligible prospects in Indianapolis beginning this week. The Scouting Combine, though, is just one factor teams using in drafting players.
Of all the factors, what should be the most important thing scouts look for in a player?
Clarence Hill, writer: Talent, production and character. I believe in the old adage hard work without talent is a dream but talent without hard work is a nightmare. I want a talented player who has produced on every level and is a hard worker. Plenty of guys look like Tarzan and play like Jane. It's not just about the size and speed but what do you do with it. Do they play hard consistently? Do they have a passion for the game? Do they care about their teammates? How have they demonstrated all of the above during their college careers?
Charean Williams, writer: It is about only one thing: Production in college. Potential needs to be drafted in the later rounds. The first three rounds need to be for players who have been there, won that. If they didn't do it in college, no matter the reason, including injuries, it isn't likely they're going to get it done in the NFL. Terrell Davis is perhaps the biggest exception. For quarterbacks, the record means as much as the production. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have the numbers and the wins. Nothing else should matter much.
Carlos Mendez, writer: Talent is important, but I'm going to assume every player I'm looking at is talented. So what I want to see is drive and discipline. I want a player who wants to be the best player on the field on every play, who doesn't make sloppy mistakes, who has a football IQ and who knows where he fits in on a team. I want everybody I talk to about a player -- his old coach, his former and current teammates -- to tell me that. I guess that's more than one thing I'm looking for, but that's where I start weeding out these guys. Again, assuming talent.
David Humphrey, editor: No. 1 for me is grading how a prospect plays in a game, not practice and not combines. Being good in combine drills is not enough. There have been too many players who run 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash who couldn't run a route or catch the ball. There have also been some record-setting bench press performers who get tossed around in the NFL because they have no technique. I would put a heavy emphasis on how they play in games regardless the competition.