The NFL combine in early March was the unofficial kickoff to the draft workout season.
All 32 teams got a chance to see draft prospects in Indianapolis go through workouts that draw comparisons to their skills on the football field. The same is true for the numerous pro days that will be held until a week before the 2023 NFL draft.
Houston Texans assistant director of player personnel and college scouting director James Liipfert and his staff have plenty to comb through as they evaluate the prospects. Regardless of how many workouts a player does or doesn’t have from early January to April, one thing remains the same for Liipfert.
“I will always go back to the tape,” Liipfert said. “I think every player has the right to work out when and where they want to. Just because player X didn’t work out at the combine, or they only did position drills at their pro day, a lot of the times those guys are trusting what their agents are telling them. The agents usually have a really good reason for, ‘This is why I ask you not to do that, or only work out here, or only do that there.’ These guys are listening to their agents, and that’s okay.”
What Liipfert is able to control is “evaluating how a guy played,” which he considers as the most significant element of his job.
“I don’t think that’s a state secret,” said Liipfert. “You probably have every team in the league probably feels that way. Ultimately, when there’s a helmet on their head and there are shoulder pads on their shoulders, that to me will always be king. That’s not some secret. It’s football. You’re drafting them to play football, so you want to know how they play football.”
The combine and the pro days are still of significance in the scouting process, but are more about picking up aspects about a prospect’s athleticism.
Said Liipfert: “I would say Combine to Pro Day to private workouts, you’re really just trying to get a little more conviction or find out something about certain granular parts about their athleticism. ‘How well does this guard really bend? How powerful is this center really on contact? Let me hold his bag and feel this guy strike the bag.’ I think there is (more) value to that than saying, ‘I’m going to go work this guy out and find out everything that I need to know.’ I would say watch the tape and make your judgments off that more so.”
The Texans still have plenty of time between now and April 26, the first day of the NFL draft, to determine who looks good on tape and would fit Houston’s identity under coach DeMeco Ryans.
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Story originally appeared on Texans Wire