The NFL Scouting Combine takes place from February 23 to March 2, 2020, in Indianapolis.
This becomes the next critical opportunity for the coaches and GMs to interview potential draft picks.
It also provides the NFL Network with fresh content after three weeks of game replays and season recaps. The Combine will be more of a prime-time event this year. Most on-field workout coverage will be between 4-11pm EST. Fan’s workdays should be more productive with less streaming during business hours…except for Tuesday between 11am to 12 noon when Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman take the podium to talk Giants. As news comes out from Indianapolis, we can start putting draft theories together.
Giants’ Combine Team: The Bus will be Full
Yesterday, the Giants announced the entire coaching staff, executives and scouts will be headed to Indianapolis for the Combine. According to Dan Benton of Giants Wire, this is the opposite of most teams plans these days. With more video available on prospects, many teams cut back on staff attending the Combine. But, maybe intangibles such as face-to-face contact, physical performance, mental aptitude testing, and interviews of prospects provide too much value that video cannot match.
But, why send the entire staff?
Let’s speculate on that question. This is the first opportunity for the full staff to get together outside of the Giants facility in East Rutherford, NJ. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to avoid any pending snowstorms. I mean Indianapolis is in a deep freeze area too. A little team building always builds cohesiveness. The staff wasn’t all in place during Senior Bowl week. The Combine is the last league-sponsored event where teams can see a lot of players in a concentrated setting. What’ll be interesting is how they (the staff) gel when comparing everybody’s notes and wishes against team needs.
Dave’s Determined to Get This Team on Track
The full staff on-site indicates GM Dave Gettleman’s and Coach Judge’s commitment to a “thorough evaluation.” Dave has already stated he will build this team via the draft. Joe Judge put a lot of emphasis on “teaching” fundamentals. This is a great opportunity to see which prospects can be good “students of the game”. Each team is allowed 60 prospect interviews (lasting just 15 minutes) during the Combine.
The Giants are projected to have nine (9) picks. That could change depending on trades ahead of or during the draft. Over 300 prospects get an invite to the Combine. That’s a lot of ‘eyes on’ opportunities. Each position group can be covered by coaches that have a vested interest in that group. You can cover a lot of ground and gain a lot of data with such staff. The Giants have five (5) picks in the last three rounds. This is an opportunity to finds the next diamonds in the rough.
What to Look for If Watching the Combine Coverage
The NFL Combine Chart below was posted by Gil Brandt on Twitter. This lets us fans know what to look for regarding prospect performance.
Does the “Full Staff” Decision Give Us an Idea of How the Coaches View the Current Roster and Holes?
I’m not sure it does. The Giants have many holes to fill on both sides of the ball. The Combine helps clear up the team’s chances of filling some holes via the draft. Where the Giants have a concentrated group of observers viewing certain position groups could be an indicator of the team’s priorities.
I expect a focus on the offensive line (tackles and centers), or Dave’s “Hog Mollies”, defensive line and linebackers. The defense needs 1-2 playmakers that can turn momentum during a game to the Giants.
Free Agency—A Different Kind of March Madness
Free Agency gives the Giants a chance to fill some holes with veterans. Early March will be the time we see roster movement to position the Giants for both Free Agency and the draft. With Free Agency still about one month away, there are more decisions to make on which veterans stay and who gets released. The coaching staff stated they have completed their evaluations of the current roster. We’ll see cuts based on performance and lack of fit with the new schemes. We’ll also see potential cuts to get more cap space.
Some Upcoming NFL Deadlines
- March 10th: Designating Franchise and Transition players
- March 16-18: “Legal Tampering” when a team can contact Unrestricted Free Agents
- March 18: Qualifying Offers to Restricted Free Agents (team retains the right of first refusal)
- March 18: Free Agency begins
Here’s a list of the Current Giants Free Agents
Leonard Williams, DL (Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA))
Markus Golden, OLB (UFA)
Deone Buchanon, LB (UFA)
Antonio Hamilton, CB (UFA)
Michael Thomas, S (UFA)
David Mayo, LB (UFA)
Cody Latimer, WR (UFA)
Mike Remmers, OT (UFA)
Corey Coleman, WR (UFA)
Russell Shepard, WR (UFA)
Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB (UFA)
Cody Core, WR (UFA)
Jon Halapio, C (Restricted FA)
Elijhaa Penny, FB (Restricted FA)
Amba Etta-Tawo, WR (Restricted FA)
Zak DeOssie, LS (UFA)
Aldrick Rosas, K (Restricted FA)
Quick Analysis & Fan Impressions on the Defense FAs
Three, maybe four of the FAs will be welcome back for 2020. The trade for Leonard Williams will be viewed as a good one only if the Giants can sign him to a long term contract. But he seems like the obvious choice to get the Franchise Tag. This would give the Giants some time to work out the contract. Markus Golden was “gold” in 2019, leading the team in sacks.
The Giants need additional help on the rush. But, he’s proved himself. Please sign him, Dave! Michael Thomas is a superior Special Teams player and leader. But, he always finds himself on the field for defense and does a really good job. My maybe is David Mayo. He showed some promise, but we need to upgrade the LBs for 2020. There’s help out there via both FA and the draft.
Quick Analysis and Fan Impressions on the Offense FAs
Two starters from the 2019 offensive line are on this list. I’d love to have both Halapio and Remmers back for 2020. But they may not be starters if the team can upgrade the tackle and center positions via the draft and FA. You can see the amount of turnover in the WR position last year. All of these players are fringe talent. Corey Coleman needs to stay healthy to have a shot.
Quick Analysis and Fan Impressions on the Special Teams FAs
Zak ends the DeOssie connection to all four Super Bowl Teams. Rosas showed such great promise in 2018, even making the Pro Bowl. But the fall-off in 2019 warrants competition for 2020.
Next week, I’ll recap some of the Combine action and the Press Conferences for Joe and Dave. and a look ahead to Free Agent wish list.