The NFL Scouting Combine isn’t just about 40-yard dash times and reps on the bench press. Sometimes, coaches are looking for a special … quality in a player. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart recently revealed what he learned from Nick Saban and Bill Belichick during one combine experience.
During a coaching clinic, Smart brought up a story about a time he attended the combine while coaching with Saban with the Miami Dolphins. He was told to sit next to Belichick and learn how he evaluates players — particularly defensive linemen.
“(Coach Saban) said, ‘Come over here with me. I want you to sit by Bill,” Smart said. “I want you to sit by him and listen to him during the combine as they talk about players.
“They get where the 40-yard dash is … they got behind them where the thing starts. And I’m thinking, ‘Why are we here?’ You can’t time the finish. (Saban) said, ‘No, Bill likes to look and see how big their ass is when they get down in the 40-yard stance. Because he wants to sign the biggest ass defensive lineman that he can sign.”
So, it had nothing to do with times, athleticism, or talent apparently. Belichick wants players with a backside. But there’s an explanation.
“(Belichick) said because those backers want to line up behind those guys and they want to be protected by them,” Smart said.
Look, we’re sure there are still some really important drills happening during the NFL Scouting Combine. We’re also positive that coaches evaluate quite a bit more than what Smart explained during the clip. But it provides an interesting new perspective on what some coaches value in players.
Chicago Bears Use Unique Games at NFL Scouting Combine
The longer the NFL Scouting Combine runs, the more we’re learning that each coach (and franchise) utilizes it differently. This year, the Chicago Bears revealed that they had their own methods to grade players.
Instead of solely relying on the testing results, the Bears included fun games like darts and putt-putt to gauge the competitiveness from different players.
“We talk about it all the time, I think some of the best players in this league, they’re passionate about football. And we want to see that come out of them. We want to see the competitive side come out of them,” Chicago general manager Ryan Poles said.
“So, we were talking before we got here and (head coach Matt Eberflus) was like, ‘What can we do to loosen the guys up? See what kind of competitive juice to them?’ We decided on darts and putt-putt.”
You’ve probably already gathered this — based on Kirby Smart’s story about Bill Belichick — but there’s a lot more to the combine than fans know. We’re beginning to learn more about it every year.