Combine Hope For UH Trio

The NFL Scouting Combine seems as if it’s been around forever, but it actually can be traced to 1982 – when National Football Scouting Inc. decided to conduct a camp for its member NFL clubs in Tampa. It was designed primarily to evaluate medical information on the top prospects eligible for the draft. It was then known as National Invitational Camp.

Other scouting groups held two additional camps the first three years, but in 1985 all 28 NFL teams decided to join NIC and share the costs of medical personnel.

In 1987, it moved to Indianapolis, where it remains today.

As player evaluation has evolved, so has the NFL Scouting Combine. While medical evaluation still is seen as the top priority, there is a full battery of psychological and physical tests, as well as interviews both formal and casual with team representatives.

A selection committee determines participants annually. The goal of the committee is to invite every player who will be drafted that year, but it is not a perfect system; some players not invited will get drafted in April, some in Indy will not hear their names called during the draft.

Almost all players invited will attend, but many on the advice of agents pick and choose the drills they will participate in.

The general rule is the higher the stock of a player, the more likely he is to skip drills. USC quarterback Matt Barkley declined to throw; Alabama running back Eddie Lacy chose not to run the 40. They will wait for their pro day instead.

Three Hawaii players have secured the coveted invitations and went through the process in Indianapolis. They are corner back Mike Edwards, punter Alex Dunnachie and long snapper Luke Ingram. Each could help themselves greatly if they perform well.

Edwards needs to show well on speed and quickness drills, and wants to be considered a cover corner who also can return kicks, rather than primarily a kick returner.

He also needs to interview well, because he had some baggage while at Tennessee. If he does well, Edwards could go as high as the third round, but more likely in the fourth of fifth.

Luke Ingram is in a beautiful position. He is the best long snapper in the country, according to numerous coaching opponents and three different NFL scouts I spoke to at road practices last season.

Confirming evidence of that evaluation is that Ingram is the only long snapper invited to the combine. He is big, fast and utterly reliable. He also covers kicks extremely well, and has an excellent chance to be drafted at a position where the free agent route is the norm.

Alex Dunnachie averaged 46.1 yards per punt, so there is no question he has the requisite leg strength. Dunnachie will need to show good hang time and the ability to kick directionally. He could be a late-round pick, but more likely will be a free agent.

No matter, because a punter has to beat out another punter in camp anyway.

Now we’ll all wait with bated breath until the draft April 25-27.