INDIANAPOLIS – Thursday at the combine, Ryan Grigson spoke openly about his football team.
There were many local reporters present but at the combine, there also are national faces sprinkled in as well as some reporters from less traditional outlets that do not cover games.
It is an interesting blend where prepping for topics is a bit iffy, but it is the time of year where one can let his guard down a bit.
Two such moments came last Thursday. Grigson was hit with a comfort question – who (on the surface and purely in general with no specific players in mind) would he be more comfortable with playing as a rookie – an offensive lineman or a defensive back?
“I would have to say a DB,” said Grigson, a former lineman and team captain at Purdue. “A first-year offensive lineman, there’s a lot more bullets flying in that vicinity where he’s working that involves thinking and involves experience.
“That’s why a lot of times they (observers say) rookie tackles go through a baptism of fire. They don’t say that because it’s an easy process. A lot of times that ends of working in their favor when they’re thrown out there like that.”
Defensive backs face a challenge, too, and they play at positions where amnesia is necessary. Talented receivers and the approach where the game has tilted more in recent years into a passing league have made it tough.
Still, Grigson thinks the individual nature of the position can make a difference.
“A lot of times depending on the scheme you play a lot of times corners that play on an island, they’re relying on technique and pure athletic ability and God-given ability,” said Grigson. “A lot of times on the offensive line, their first year they’re going to see exotic blitzes that they could not even dream of. They’re going to see pass rushers and body types they never knew existed even in some of the bigger conferences. I would say definitely a corner.”
Grigson is a combine veteran, having worked the event from an entry level up to a top decision-maker. The same questioner asked what he thought would make the combine better as an evaluation tool.
“Put ‘em in pads. That’s the only thing,” said Grigson. “The great thing about this is it’s one more reference point. If you see a guy as a great cover corner, for instance, a great athlete (who) has great speed on film, if he runs 4.35, you say, ‘Okay, he’s really that guy.’ But the play speed and actual game playing is so huge.
“A lot of times you can go out and watch a player in drills. You see a guy that’s 6-1, 200 pounds that’s a low-rated guy and he doesn’t look good on tape at all. You go out to practice and he moves unbelievably. His movement skills are off the charts and you get bamboozled into thinking that he’s a player. Well, there’s something to be said for how you process information as a football player. That’s why I like taking guys that are productive in the actual environment. That’s football, that’s combat, that’s a physical competitive situation.”