Over 300 former collegians have completed their on-field internships, and now it's time for the biggest job interview of their careers.
On Thursday, Feb. 19, the NFL Combine kicks off in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, and BaltimoreRavens.com will be there to bring you inside the events. Over the six-day event, each of the invited players will be put through a litany of tests, measurements, timings and interviews by all 32 NFL teams.
The Ravens sent over 40 representatives, including the entire coaching team, personnel department and medical staff, for a final chance to examine nearly all of the NCAA's top prospects in one place. Up to 60 players can be interviewed by each team for a limit of 15 minutes each, and during those sessions, questions tend to get intensely personal.
Following the showcase, teams have the opportunity to invite players back to their headquarters for more meet-and-greets, but that number is capped at 30. With so much talent gathered in one area at one time, the 25-year-old Combine is a crucial element to the Ravens' draft preparations.
While not serving as an exact predictor of how a prospect will perform at the professional level, the on-field skills tests are some of the most compelling activities at the Combine. The three-cone drill, 40-yard dash and vertical leap are all scrutinized intensely by fans and football officials.
Here is a schedule of when drills will take place by position group:
- Saturday, Feb. 21 – Group 1 (OL, Specialists), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
- Sunday, Feb. 22 – Group 4 (QB, WR), Group 5 (QB, WR), Group 6 (RB)
- Monday, Feb. 23 – Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
- Tuesday, Feb. 24 – Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)
Started in 1982, the Combine initially hosted 163 players assembled so that National Football Scouting, one of the league's scouting services, could gather medical information of the top prospects for its member teams. Then, in 1985, all clubs came together for the camp with the idea of sharing the cost of the examinations.
This week's Combine will be the first held away from Indianapolis' RCA Dome since 1987.
Of course, the event has since ballooned into a massive spectacle, as the days are filled with running and jumping, and the nights are taken up by extensive interviews with interested teams.
In addition to the testing, the media blitz has grown into a huge exhibition.
Last year, BR.com was there when a modest and soft-spoken young quarterback named Joe Flacco!(/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco") took the stage in front of approximately 25 television cameras and over 50 reporters.
At the time, the Delaware product said he was "sick of hearing about [himself]," but little did he know what would be in store for him after Baltimore selected him 18th overall and he guided his team to the AFC Championship game.
This year, it's a safe bet that most of the Ravens' draft picks and even some of their rookie free agents signed in the offseason will come from this talented pool of players – the next wave of true NFL talent.
Stay tuned to BaltimoreRavens.com for coverage of the Combine through the Ravens' eyes.
Read Mike Duffy's "Live from the Combine: Day 1" blog