Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interview Process Of NFL Scouting Combine Imperative For Steelers; Salary Cap Rises

The annual beefcake bonanza that is the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is once again upon us and the Pittsburgh Steelers are right in the thick of it. - stele.rs/1mixDqR

All told, the entire process runs form February 19-25 - meetings and weigh-ins/measurements are from the 19th-21st, while the actual Combine workouts and drills are from the 22nd-25th.

As each player is measured, poked, prodded and scrutinized like prize cattle, we get the chance to find out which potential prospects might fit the team's needs. It is truly the penultimate event.

Then again, it could be much ado about nothing and all that is actually needed is to have watched three or more years of actual games.

In truth, the real value of the NFL Combine is the subject of debate as the players go through their various drills from the general to the specific. The real import of the Combine likely lies behind the pomp and circumstance.

The Steelers, as with all teams, will put players through assiduous medical examinations, interviews and in possibly even psychological testing.

By now, for the most part, Kevin Colbert and company have settled on their preliminary draft board, so the Combine acts as the proverbial icing. It allows them to adjust based on the aforementioned psych eval, their background, medical questions and, maybe most of all, their character.

Will he fit in with their locker room? What are his practice habits? Is he competitive? Can he learn a playbook? Can he recognize schemes and formations? Does he have a real football IQ? Etc...

Not only that, but they'll also want to know about players' work ethic.

There have been as much as eight weeks for some to stay prepared or at least to get prepared for the Combine drills. Are they?

As for the interview process itself, each team can meet with up to 60 player interviews players they specifically requested for 15 minutes at a time and players have an itinerary that lays out which team they will be meeting with and when.

The interviews can involve the particular position coach, a coordinator(s), the head coach and other personnel brass. The conversation can be as casual as can be in order to just get a feel for the player, or as technical as possible. Whatever necessary to better gauge the player.

So far, the Steelers have met with at least Arizona Wildcats running back Ka'Deem Carey, Oklahoma Sooners FB-TE Trey Millard (SICK blocker), and some guy named Kelvin Benjamin.

More to come starting Saturday.

~

TIDBITS: Per ESPN's John Clayton from his Twitter (@ClaytonESPN) account, "the projection for the 2014 salary cap is now at $132 million."

This greatly helps the Steelers. When just considering the Rule of 51, the Steelers are only now $3.5 million over the Salary Cap.Add in the dead money and it's approximately $8.1 million over. Hopefully, they'll raise it again...

~

In this pass-happy NFL is so pass oriented, the Nickel and Dime sub packages of the defense become paramount. The Steelers themselves used such packages approximately 60% of the time last season. The Steelers have issues at cornerback and safety (needing about least one each), and this is considered to be a top heavy draft class in the secondary that could provide starter-type help into the fourth round.

~

Markus Wheaton recently had "clean-up surgery on the broken pinky finger that kept him out about a month last season. Otherwise, Colbert said, the Steelers are healthier coming out of this season than he can remember in any previous year." - Alan Robinson of the Tribune-Review