The event covered a week in Indianapolis, and over 300 invited potential NFL draft picks interviewed, underwent medical exams and worked out on the field in front of all 32 teams' personnel, coaching and scouting departments.
That is one side of the event, but the other side is the media coverage inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Media members are not allowed to watch drills live on the field, but the NFL brings general managers and head coaches from most NFL teams and every prospect involved in the combine inside the media center for press conferences and interviews from Thursday through Sunday. When a player or executive was announced, there was normally a mad rush to get quotes out of them.
From the Jaguars.com perspective, it is impossible to cover each and every executive and player with accuracy – the Jaguars have 10 draft picks, so why cover all 300? – so we (senior writer John Oehser, producer/videographer Patrick Kavanagh and I) covered the event from a Jaguars perspective.
What is the national media reaction after General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley met the national media? What could the Jaguars do with the No. 3 pick, draft a quarterback or pass rusher, or trade down? Those are just a couple of the broad questions we tried to answer during the trip to Indianapolis.
Now for some of the answers…
The national media is starting to turn toward the Jaguars as a team to watch. General Manager David Caldwell improved the roster last year, and Head Coach Gus Bradley kept the team together after a rough start in 2013 and rallied the squad for a 4-4 second half. The momentum carried into the offseason, as people around the NFL started to notice the energy around the staff during the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. this past January.
That buzz was confirmed in Indianapolis, as nearly every national reporter was positive on the outlook for the team moving forward. Everyone understands that it could take time, but most feel that the football side has the leadership to move in the right direction to make it a sustainable winning product on the field. In order to improve the product, the team must select the right players…
As for whom the Jaguars will select with the No. 3 overall draft pick – which is anyone's guess in late February – pretty much everyone has an opinion.
Many feel that the Jaguars will take a quarterback with the No. 3 overall selection, and usually they name Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel or Central Florida's Blake Bortles as the likely candidates.
But hearing David Caldwell speak about the No. 3 overall pick, he understands that the pick should be a cornerstone player for the franchise for the next decade, regardless of what position he plays. You cannot force a franchise quarterback for the sake of having a "franchise quarterback."
There are plenty of other positions of need as well, and it will take the coming month of college players working out at their Pro Days and many additional interviews with teams to determine what might be done. Throw in free agency starting March 11, and some of those needs could be taken care of before the draft and make the direction of the draft that much clearer (or clear as mud). The tone of Draft Day could also change if the Jaguars find a dance partner…
As for the thought of trading down during the draft to acquire more picks, Caldwell said that he is open to the idea. The Jaguars already have 10 draft picks: one in each of the seven rounds and an additional fourth-round pick and two additional fifth-round picks from previous trades. All the speculating about trading down is nice, but another team must be willing to give up picks to move up. It takes two to tango.
In the end, the NFL Scouting Combine is just another piece of the pre-draft puzzle. It is another chance for prospects to work and talk directly with teams, while media, experts and analysts pontificate on who is better and why certain teams should draft certain players. The speculation and conversation will also be two weeks longer than normal since the 2014 NFL Draft is two weeks later than usual.
At jaguars.com, we are your source for pre-draft coverage, from inside EverBank Field. We are planning on covering four Pro Days in person: Bortles, Bridgewater, Manziel and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. In addition, we will continue the Jaguars.com LIVE! interactive show each Wednesday at 12:00 ET (5:00 p.m. GMT) and cover other events as they come in the offseason. As usual, stay tuned to Jaguars.com on a daily basis for the latest Jaguars news.