Last April, the NFL's 32 teams convened in New York for three days and found the first professional homes for 255 former college football players.
With the exception of about a half-dozen invited prospects, that 2010 draft class didn't actually gather physically in New York; rather, the players went directly to their new teams a day or a week later.
Almost all of those players were in the same place at one time two months earlier, however. To be exact, 216 of the 255, or 84.7%, took part in the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine over the course of a week in Indianapolis. That's a clear indication of why the Combine is annually one of the most important weeks on the NFL's offseason calendar.
The 2011 NFL Scouting Combine is just around the corner. Each of the 32 teams will send a delegation of scouts, coaches, medical personnel and other draft decision-makers to Indianapolis to participate in the event, which begins on Thursday, February 24 (a few players will arrive on the 23rd). There, they will have the opportunity to interview players in private settings, conduct health examinations, click stopwatches and view a variety of workouts, all designed to strengthen their scouting reports heading into this year's draft.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be there in force, sending more than 30 football folks to Indianapolis at some point over the Combine's six days. It is a can't-miss event. All nine of the players the Buccaneers drafted in 2010 were present at the combine, and it's likely the information the team's scouts gathered in Indianapolis helped lead to some very good decisions. Tampa Bay's 2010 draft class was extremely impactful, right down to a trio of seventh-rounders who logged significant playing time. Virginia Tech's Cody Grimm, for instance, performed well in both the 40-yard dash and the three-cone drill, displaying enough speed for scouts to believe he could make the transition from college linebacker to NFL safety.
The scouts and coaches aren't the only Buccaneer representatives headed to the Combine, however. In order to keep Tampa Bay fans abreast of their team's efforts in Indy, Buccaneers.com will also be sending a team to the NFL's temporary epicenter.
Our reporting team will be arriving in Indianapolis in time for three full days of reporting, covering all the action from Saturday through Monday. Those Combine days include the workouts and media interviews for most of the players, including the running backs and wide receivers on Sunday and the defensive linemen and linebackers on Monday.
During the Combine, Buccaneers.com will have access to such team decision-makers as General Manager Mark Dominik, Director of College Scouting Dennis Hickey and Head Coach Raheem Morris. Expect daily video reports from the Buccaneers' brass regarding the ups and downs of this year's player evaluations.
The Combine is also an excellent opportunity for all members of the media to interview the players who will make up the majority of the upcoming draft class. Buccaneers.com will be in the mix, bringing you a close-up look at some of this year's most intriguing draft hopefuls.
The 329 players invited to this year's Combine will begin arriving in Indianapolis next Wednesday. The players move in and out of the Combine site by position groups, beginning with the offensive linemen, tight end, kickers and specialists on the 23rd. Upon arrival, each group begins a four-day schedule that opens with orientation sessions, pre-examinations and, if necessary, X-rays and ends on Day Four with the physical workouts. Each evening the players are in Indianapolis, they spend several hours on the ground floor of their hotel, working their way through a series of meeting rooms set up by each NFL team. This is the site of the interviews, considered by some teams to be the most valuable part of the entire Combine.
The quarterbacks, receivers and running backs arrive on Thursday, the 24th, and do their dashes and jumps on Sunday. The defensive linemen and linebackers follow a schedule one day later. The last group to arrive is the defensive backs, who get to Indy on Saturday and finally conduct their workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday, March 1st.
To go even deeper into this year's Combine, you can watch exclusive video coverage of the players' workouts on the NFL Network during the entire week. The Network will be providing a live look at all of the workouts throughout the combine.
For coverage more specific to your Buccaneers, return here to Buccaneers.com. The whole NFL will be in Indianapolis next weekend, and so will we.