The NFL offseason is a marathon, not a sprint. Yet, the NFL Scouting Combine involves literal sprinting and a rapid flood of information for teams and fans to digest. There are televised drills and physical measurements open to the public plus the medicals and interviews behind closed doors. And all of this information shifts the draft landscape dramatically over the course of a couple of weeks.
We have some idea of who the Combine “winners” and “losers” are based on what we’ve seen, but the more concrete opinions of both draft pundits and teams will filter down to their favored members of the media over the next few weeks, and they'll all be represented numerically in the form of mock drafts.
There’s reason to believe that, in aggregate, the shift of opinions in mock drafts is providing signal to the public, but we don’t know exactly how much. We could be overreacting to a handful of drills and media leaks, or immediate player movements within those mock drafts might only be the beginning of a larger trend.
Benjamin was kind enough to provide me with his mock draft data from the 2018 and 2019 offseasons so that I could study the Combine movements. So, in this analysis, I’m going to compare mock draft information from his classifications of media and experts (excluding fans), in one category “pre-Combine” (the two weeks prior to the beginning of the combine) and “post-Combine” (the two weeks following the event).
What I end up finding through the data is that deriving pre/post-Combine valuation and dividing players into risers and fallers provides surprising insight in terms of valuation and what to expect over the rest of the mock draft season.
Working with the Data