At the Combine, teams will see things that confirm previous beliefs about prospects while they will also see things that make them go back and re-watch the tape for certain players. I'd expect the Colts to pay careful attention to players at some of their positions of need, such as offensive line, pass rush, cornerback, and others.
But what is it that the Colts really value during the Combine week? There's a full schedule of events, with some being more useful than others, so what do the Colts really pay attention to? Before the Combine last year, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson sat down with Colts.com's Kevin Bowen to answer that exact question, and his answers give us some insight as to what in particular the Colts will be watching.
"The actual interview with the player we feel is incredibly important," Grigson said at the time. It is where you find out how the player fits in so many ways from primarily a mental and character standpoint. Every year there is a guy who walks through the door that just brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm that is tangible and you make note of those types of strong interactions.
"The other I would say is the 40 time, not that it is or isn't the reason to draft a guy, but at the end of the day it helps you assign proper market value to the player. Especially at those skill positions."
The 40 yard dash time could have helped Phillip Dorsett catch the Colts' attention last year, as he ran a 4.33 40 at the Combine (the third-fastest) and then topped it with a 4.25 40 at his pro day. With Grigson saying that the 40 time can help assign the proper value to a player, it's possible that factored into play with the Colts' drafting of Dorsett.
More important than that, however, is the interview process, according to Grigson. While certain people and organizations pay more attention to the on-field measurables than others, the interview process is viewed as beneficial by all teams. Franchises will meet with a number of prospects during the week and get the chance to talk face-to-face with them in an attempt to figure out whether the player would be a good fit in the team's locker room and system.
One other thing that Grigson mentioned as important at the Combine is the medical evaluation that every prospect goes through, adding again that the interviews and drills have their purpose as well.
"Medical is critical," Grigson said, "and sometimes it is very disappointing because I am no doctor and we have no choice but to trust our medical staff when it comes to taking a player we really like off our board. Again the interviews are where you try and get all your questions answered about any problem areas with the player on or off field. I'm just not a big fan of the field drills. I watch them but the environment isn't a football game. It is in shorts and in a controlled setting so you can get fooled to a degree because some guys move different when there's bullets flying. Now there are guys that really stand out and pop when you're watching them and those are the only ones I make note of. It is usually from just a pure movement standpoint. Does he significantly stand out because he just has more juice and pure athleticism than anyone else in his position group? Or does he separate himself due to the way he attacks a drill and that perceived competitiveness, not his true athletic ability, is the actual factor in his rate of speed? Things like that specifically have helped sway me in the past towards a particular player but as a whole, the film is the true equalizer at the end of the day."
In short, the Colts really do value the Scouting Combine, but they use it more to interview the prospects and get medical evaluations than they do to see what kind of measurables a player has. They certainly pay attention to those - such as the 40 yard dash, like Grigson mentioned - but those drills are merely an opportunity to perhaps re-evaluate a prospect on film. So as we approach the beginning of this year's Combine, keep in mind that the most important thing for the Colts is what goes on behind closed doors, as that's really where they are able to do their best draft prep.