The Bucs got a good look at DE Dewayne White, their eventual 2003 second-round draft pick, at last year's combine
The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl on the first day of February , had a parade in Boston two days later and are surely still feeling the aftereffects of their very long, very successful season. But before that month that started so well is over for the Patriots, they will be knee deep in preparations for 2004, most notably at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers know how they feel.
Last winter, if some of the Bucs felt like they were still walking on air in mid-February, those in the organization responsible for player personnel decisions were still catching their breath. There was essentially no offseason for those folks.
Obviously, the Bucs would have preferred to return to the Super Bowl this year, even if it meant another hectic overlapping of seasons. Instead, the team missed the playoffs for the first time in five years and had all of January to get started on the upcoming year. After some very significant changes in the personnel department – headlined, of course, by the hiring of Bruce Allen as general manager – the Bucs believe they are ready for the impending combine.
"I still feel like I'm catching up from that long season," said Bucs Director of College Scouting Ruston Webster recently. "But, last year it was like the season was over and we went right in to the combine. With all the hoopla around the Super Bowl, that was a little bit of a distraction. I think we're further ahead now. We should be in good shape."
It is essential that the Bucs have their ducks in a row for the combine, which runs from February 18-24 in its usual location, Indianapolis. Virtually every player who will be selected during the first three rounds of April's NFL Draft will be at the event, even if some decline to participate in certain workouts.
To cover the event properly, which means scouting every workout, banking hours of videotape and conducting hundreds of interviews with prospective draftees, the Bucs will send a platoon of people to Indy this year. That crew will include Allen, Webster, all of the team's college and pro scouts, the entire coaching staff, several trainers and a two-man video crew. Some of the Bucs' reps, such as the assistant coaches, will be there for varying short intervals as the different positions are worked out on different days.
Gil Brandt, a long-time player personnel executive in the NFL and an analyst for NFL.com, knows the combine backward and forward and will provide in-depth coverage. Below are some pre-combine tidbits offered up by Brandt, including the impressive fact that only three players have been drafted in the first round since 1988 after not being invited to the event.
Scouting combine tidbits
(by Gil Brandt, Special to NFL.com)
Less than a month after the conclusion of the 2003 NFL season, the league turns its attention to the NFL Scouting Combine. The 2004 gathering will take place Feb. 18-24 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
This year for the first time ever, people at home can watch what goes on inside, thanks to the NFL Network. The NFL Network will have a one-hour daily show featuring interviews with coaches, general managers and players and also will air drills and other events (40-yard dash, shuttle drills, etc.).
Did you know?
This event is run by National Football Scouting, which is headed by Gene "Duke" Babb, a former NFL player of six years, including the 1960-61 Dallas Cowboys. Babb does an unbelievable job of organizing this weeklong extravaganza.
More than 200 people from 32 teams help pull it all together. The 12 group leaders do a great job making sure players are up on time and where they are scheduled to be over the three-day period.
The printed results and tapes of what takes place during the week are received by teams within a matter of hours so they can evaluate each player and what they did in the on-field drills (running, jumping and coaching drills). Also included is an interview with each player.
Since 1988, three players have been drafted in the first round after they did not attend the combine:
1. Aaron Jones (Eastern Kentucky) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1988. 2. Eric Swann by the Arizona Cardinals in 1991. 3. Darrien Gordon (Stanford) by the San Diego Chargers in 1993.
Since 1998, only 12 of the 571 total picks on day one of the draft have not been invited to the combine:
First day picks not invited to combine
|Courtney Van Buren
|Arkansas Pine Bluff
|Arkansas Pine Bluff
For the prospects invited, draft rates vary by individual positions. Defensive players are more likely to be selected. The six-year rate for defensive lineman is 76 percent, while for linebackers and defensive backs it is 73 percent.
On the offensive side, the numbers are: quarterbacks, 57 percent; running backs, 58 percent; wide receivers, 59 percent; tight ends, 59 percent; offensive lineman, 62 percent. Kickers are rare draft picks and just 18 of the 69 (26 percent) of those invited to recent combines were drafted.
Over the past six years, 65 percent of combine attendees have been drafted and that have represented 84 percent of the total draft classes.
Since 1995, no fullback has been drafted in the first round.
The University of Texas has had a player selected in an NFL-record 66 consecutive drafts. No Longhorns were selected in the first two drafts (1936-37).
Over the past 10 years, 2,482 players have been drafted from 259 schools. Notre Dame and Southern Cal have had the most players selected No. 1 overall in the draft, both with five.
Over the past 10 years, 68 players have been drafted from Tennessee, the most of any school, followed by Florida State (64), Nebraska and Ohio State (57 each), Florida (56), Miami (53), Colorado (52) and Notre Dame (52).
The last player picked No. 1 overall in the draft for a non-Division I school was Ed "Too Tall" Jones of Tennessee State in 1974 by the Dallas Cowboys.
In the past 10 years, eight players have been selected from seven non-Division I schools in the first round. Two of the eight players have come from Jackson State.
Over the past 10 years, 43 schools have had players selected in the first 10 picks of Round 1. Ohio State leads with seven, followed by Florida State and Southern Cal (six each) and Florida and Texas (five each).
Southern Cal has had the most first-round draft picks in NFL history with 61. Notre Dame is second with 57.
The University of Texas had an NFL-record 17 players selected in 1984.
Ohio State had a player selected in every draft from 1936-96. The streak ended in 1997 when no Buckeyes were drafted.
Over the years, the combine has taken place in Phoenix on the campus at Arizona State, the New Orleans Superdome and Indianapolis RCA Dome. Being invited to the combine means you have a good chance of being drafted. Over the past 11 years, 3,576 players have been invited, 2,269 have been drafted and 437 players not invited have been drafted.
The stands at the RCA Dome will look like a who's who of the NFL. Al Davis, Bill Parcells, Jon Gruden and Rich McKay will be among the attendees.