Inevitably, the aftermath of each year’s Scouting Combine results in stories of bizarre questions posed to the players who occupy the annual draft pool. Thursday night’s blown gasket from Myles Garrett helps explain the reasons for the calculated effort to get under the skin of incoming NFL players.
Although certain topics remain unacceptable, improper, and potentially illegal during employment screening, teams need to know which players can control their on-off switch when it comes to pushing, shoving, and hitting — and which players cannot. Thus, teams try to get under the skin of these players during the pre-draft process in order to best assess whether they can or can’t control themselves under the stress and strain that comes with playing football at the highest level.
It’s a fine line. Coaches want players who take it to the limit, but who then can quickly reel it in. And some coaches gladly accept the bad that comes with the good, tolerating a periodic stomp or kick or punch if it comes with a guy who morphs into a madman between the snap and the whistle.
Still, there’s a limit, and before drafting a player it’s important to have a sense as to whether he’d go too far if exposed to high levels of belligerence and/or provocation. Indeed, what would the Browns have done with the first overall pick in 2017 if Garrett had removed an opposing quarterback’s helmet and smacked him over the head with it while at Texas A&M? (Although that’s a rhetoical question, the literal answer is that Patrick Mahomes could be the Cleveland quarterback right now.)
So when one or more of the players who attend the 2020 Scouting Combine talk about being asked goofy questions, the goal is both to get past the canned answers and to find out how easy it is, or isn’t, to get the player to blow a gasket.
While it’s more art than science, it’s still an important aspect of the sausage-making that, when it comes to the crapshoot that is the NFL draft, doesn’t always produce an acceptable blend of ground pork, beef, spices, and seasonings. Especially if there’s a chance that, at the worst possible moment, the sausage casing could explode.