This year marks the 15th consecutive year that Pittsburgh Steelers pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt has attended the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN so he’s knows a thing or two about the process and the things that can be learned over the course of the week. He also knows what things are overrated and underrated by most people when it comes to the scouting combine and he wasn’t afraid to share those things with Missi Matthews of steelers.com over breakfast this past week.
“The 40, just because of the amount of attention that it gets,” Hunt said about the most overrated part of the scouting combine. “How people believe it’s make it or break it. How it became a big thing over the years where whoever runs the fastest 40 gets a shoe contract. The 40 is one piece of one piece of everything. So, I would probably say that’s what it is just because that’s what everybody knows and everybody’s a part of it.”
Hunt saying the 40-yard dash is the most overrated part of the annual scouting combine isn’t surprising at all. After all, what most players wind up running their 40-yard dash in at the combine or at pro days doesn’t usually and shouldn’t surprise teams and their scouts. Honestly, the same probably goes for all the timed and measurement drills at the combine and pro days. The combine drill outcomes should support what a player did on the field in games during their college careers.
Not surprisingly, Hunt told Matthews that interviews with players at the combine is the most important thing about event, in his opinion.
“The fact that this is our first opportunity to get our hands on the players and interview them,” Hunt said, when asked to reveal what he deems to be the most important part of the combine. “For the most part, they have their hair down and you get to get at them before they are locked up and telling you exactly what they think they’re supposed to tell you. And then the next day get to see those guys work. And obviously the football is huge. I would say that’s probably one of the most important.”
Hunt was immediately asked by Matthews to reveal how the Steelers go about picking who they want to interview during the week of the scouting combine.
“We try to get an array of multiple positions and make sure that you get a nice mix,” Hunt said. “And then you take a look at who you’ve interviewed at the all-star games — East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl. And then obviously the window is just 20 minutes, so depending on what their background is, hey, who are you going to get enough info on in 20 minutes and who are you going to be able to cut that 20 minutes down and then you’re going to get to get the other half in-town. So, Kevin does a good job of going through basing off of grades and basing off of positions and basing off of time. And you submit that list and the league writes you back and says here’s who you’re going to get.”
Beginning this year, the Steelers only get to meet formally with 45 players for 18 minutes. Previously the limit was 60 formal interviews for 15-minutes. Not surprisingly, it seems like a good majority of the Steelers known formal interviews this year have been with underclassmen as they likely know the least about those younger players with them not playing in any of the three all-star games.
In the coming weeks, we’ll get a much better idea about the draft prospects the Steelers think they might have a shot at drafting as the team makes their annual pro-day rounds and host their 30 in-town visits.