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NFL Combine should be great theatre

The NFL Scouting Combine gets built up in the media in the days and weeks leading to the players descending on Indianapolis. We all hear about how someone is going to make their sick rise, while others are going to run poorly and see their stock plummet. It always happens, and while it’s insane that a general manager would judge a guy with three years of tape off a bad 40-time, that’s reality for some teams.

This year, the stakes are going to be ratcheted up even more. The rookie class is deemed to be a strong one, with ample competition — and disagreement — among people in the know about which quarterback is the best. Is it Sam Darnold? Could it be Josh Allen or Josh Rosen? What about Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield?

In many years, some of the top quarterbacks have not thrown the ball at the combine, worrying that a bad day could sink their chances of going first-overall, or at the very least, raise questions. Last year, though, all three of Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky threw, and perhaps this year’s group was taking note.

Allen, Mayfield and Rosen have all committed to throwing the ball next weekend at the combine, while Jackson and Darnold have not commented either way. At this point, however, it would seem unlikely that either would decline to throw, especially with their main competition slinging it.

Of all the quarterbacks, Allen might be the one with the most to gain or lose here. The Wyoming star has an absolute cannon for an arm, but only completed 56.2 percent of his throws while in college. If he can fire off some accurate passes throughout the drills, some scouts and general managers might feel a bit better about taking a chance early in the first round. Conversely, if Allen can’t hit the broad side of a barn throughout the proceedings, the questions about his viability at the next level are going to intensify.

Mayfield’s biggest impact on his draft stock will come win the cameras are off. Teams are going to want to get him into private interviews and do a deep dive into his personality. If the Oklahoma standout can ace those questions and prove that his maturity isn’t worth worrying about, he will all but solidify his standing as a top-10 pick.

Some years, the combine is a trumped-up waste of everyone’s time, living up to the moniker of Underwear Olympics. This time around, it should be fascinating, with plenty on the line when the kids take the field.

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