When Del asked me to write this piece a few days ago, he called the NFL Combine “The Underwear Olympics.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. My entire life as a Bills fan, I have always tried to avoid the hype of the Combine. I would much prefer for scouts to base their picks on archaic notions like stats and film from college games. Will I care more about the Combine because of this article? Probably not. But, the Combine has always meant one thing to me; the NFL Offseason has truly begun.
I know that there are plenty of die hards out there who haven’t stopped thinking about the Bills for even one second since the season has ended. For me however, it was nice to take a bit of a break. I haven’t thought about the Bills much at all since the clock struck zero at New England in Week 17. I haven’t paid much attention to the Stevie Johnson story, since most of it is likely BS at this point. I didn’t care when Stanford Routt came in for a visit, as he wasn’t anything special to begin with. I didn’t even bat an eyelash when Terrence McGee’s contract was restructured this week, meaning he will be with the team two more years instead of being cut like most assumed. But with the Combine bearing at us full speed, now I care. Now, the real news starts to break about negotiations with Stevie. Now, the real draft talk can start. Now, real free agents will be stopping by One Bills Drive for visits, not just guys who were salary cap casualties. Now, the real fun starts.
What should you pay attention to during the Combine this week? First of all, the most important thing going on this weekend for the Buffalo Bills is the negotiations with Stevie Johnson. As the time of writing this article, the two sides had a meeting in place for Friday to meet face to face. Make no mistake, bringing back Stevie Johnson is THE most important thing on the Bills agenda this offseason. If they let him walk away, it tells fans that they cannot hold onto elite talent. Debates about his character aside, there is no doubt that Stevie is the best receiver the team has had in a decade. I’m sure the two sides will meet more than once this week, and the real work will start to get done. These negotiations are more important than any player workouts that you will see this week.
However, the Combine workouts should not be completely dismissed. With so much going on this coming week, it can be hard for fans to follow it all. There will only be two days of workouts that I’ll be paying attention to; Sunday the 26th and Monday the 27th. Those are the days the Bills biggest need positions will be working out, wide receivers, defensive lineman and linebackers. While I don’t think the team should be looking to draft a quarterback, some of you would like to know that they will also be working out Sunday with the receivers. The one man I know everyone will be watching is Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. A player like Griffin is built for the Combine. He will put up fast numbers in the speed drills, and even if he doesn’t throw (which he probably won’t), he will be someone who’s stock rises following this week.
All in all, the Combine is just a week for these amazing athletes to show how amazingly athletic they are. For some reason, these workouts will cause players to fall way too far on the day of the draft, and cause players to rise way above where they actually should be taken. For the next month and a half, we will see talking heads giving the same opinions about the same players thousands of times. So enjoy it Bills fans! Now, we find out if the Bills are going to have just another offseason where the bring in average players, lose a few good ones, and make some poor draft picks; or they’ll continue their rebuilding phase and make some moves that take them to the next level. This team is close to the playoffs, I am sure of it. This offseason is crucial to the future of the team. If they hit on their picks and bring in a few solid veterans, things will finally be looking bright for this team. If they don’t, well I don’t think I have to tell you what kind of hole that puts this organization in. The Combine is about to kick off, hold on for the ride Bills fans.