INDIANAPOLIS — Football fans see the NFL's annual scouting combine as merely a numbers game that comes down to the times, jumps and drills they witness on television.
NFL executives are more interested in getting behind-the-scenes answers through medical checks and personal interviews.
It's a delicate balancing act.
"When we finally get the measurables on the underclassmen, when we find out where they are medically, where they are physically, where they are with the interviews, then we'll have a better idea (of where they rank)," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Monday; players begin arriving in Indianapolis today.
The workouts matter. Chris Johnson's draft skyrocketed after he set a combine record with a 4.24-second 40-yard dash in 2008. Cornerback Byron Jones rose up draft boards after a record broad jump of 12 feet, 3 inches last February. Both wound up being first-round picks.
The ramifications for those who underperform or sit out can be damaging, too. In 2014, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater decided not to throw in Indy, then had a less-than-stellar pro day at Louisville. The result: A candidate to go No. 1 overall fell to 32nd, costing him big bucks.
This week, two of this year's top-rated linebackers, UCLA's Myles Jack and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith, have a lot at stake. Both tore knee ligaments in the fall and this week will be the first time NFL doctors have a real chance to get a peek at their recoveries.
Eagles: Malcolm Jenkins agreed to a five-year contract worth $40.5 million, making him one of the league's highest-paid safeties, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Jenkins, 28, was about to enter the final season of a three-year, $15 million deal he signed as a free agent in 2014.
Jets: Antonio Cromartie, a 10-year veteran cornerback, was released on Monday. The move clears $8 million, Cromartie's 2016 salary, in cap space.
Obituaries: Former defensive back Mike C. McCoy, who played eight seasons with the Packers, died at age 62. The team didn't give a date or cause of death but said in a blog post that Mr. McCoy was diagnosed with dementia in the past decade. … Harry Hulmes III, a former Giants assistant general manager who spent more than 50 years in pro football, died Sunday, the team said. He was 88; the team gave no cause of death.