Coaches and scouts for the 32 National Football League teams have now returned to their respective homes and headquarters following the conclusion of the 2013 combine.
The more than 800 credentialed media continue to talk on about the prospects, where they all will fall, which teams will make the biggest selections.
This is all very good for the NFL and its television partners, as well as for the cadre of media who report on all the doings of pro football, but it is most important that we never lose sight of the fact that the combine, and even the draft itself, are just part of the process of constructing a team.
In the case of our own team, the Denver Broncos, let us take a look at the current roster.
The Broncos finished 13-3 and won the AFC West before that horrific loss to Baltimore, but there was no question that Denver was one of the absolute best teams in the NFL when last we played.
How were those Broncos constructed? What was the roster makeup?
Fourteen players who had big roles with the Broncos last year were drafted in the fourth round or later by Denver, including Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil (#4 in 2006), guard Chris Kuper (#5 in 2006), free agent linebacker Wesley Woodyard (2008), and on and on.
Return specialist Trindon Holliday was picked up on waivers from Houston, one of 22 players on the current roster either awarded to the Broncos via waivers or signed as a free agent after having played elsewhere in the NFL.
That group includes Mike Adams, Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme, Brandon Stokley, Jim Leonhard, Dan Koppen, Jacob Hester, Justin Bannon, Keith Brooking and of course, the prize of prizes in the entire free agent history of modern NFL football, Peyton Manning.
Even among the most recent Broncos, those who joined the team as rookies in 2012, defensive back Omar Bolden was selected in the fourth round, defensive end Malik Jackson in the fifth, linebacker Danny Trevathan in the sixth, with undrafted free agent longsnapper Aaron Brewer and undrafted linebacker Steven Jackson making the team last year as well.
In fact, in just the last two years the Broncos have had two undrafted rookies from the University of Kansas, Jackson, as well as superbly developing cornerback Chris Harris, both make the team. That’s two players, both from Kansas, both undrafted, to make an NFL team in consecutive seasons.
None of this means the work at the combine is anything less than top level in terms of importance, but it just shows again that players come from lots of places, and all together they make a team.
Sometimes it is the smallest spice that gives the greatest flavor to the finest dish.
Tags: Jim Saccomano