Throughout the next few weeks, you'll hear plenty about top collegiate prospects visiting with your favorite team.
But what does it really mean?
So with the help of a few NFL insiders, who spoke with Around The NFL on the condition of anonymity, we've broken down eight things you should know about these visits. In the grand scheme of things, pre-draft chats are sort of worthless.
There's a good chance the player sitting in your favorite team's facility isn't really there for a job interview. Here are some of the reasons why teams invite players to visit:
- Injury history and criminal history are almost always going to warrant a visit, especially if the player has a high draftable grade on the team's board. While many teams stray from trouble high up in the first round, they wouldn't mind if a star player slips because of his misdeeds or serious injuries. A pre-draft visit is a great way to do some background work or to update their medical information just in case a player begins to slip.
- Pre-draft visits can be used for information four years down the road (when that player hits free agency). If a team is picking toward the bottom of the first-round but covets a certain player who is expected to go well before their pick, they'll invite him in for a chat anyway. Perhaps there was a missed opportunity at the combine.
- Teams often meet with players who have a reputation for a "unique" personality.
"For some coaches, that actually means spending time with the guy to figure out if they can even tolerate having that player in their building," one source said. This is also the kind of visit where a psychological test could be administered.
- Another type of visit: When a team has a high draftable grade on a player who is not necessarily at a position of need, and isn't necessarily someone they would have went out of their way to visit at the combine. Remember, combine visits are hectic and timed stringently. Maybe something has happened to the roster (free agency, suspension, injury) since their last opportunity to talk.
- If your team hasn't spoken with one of your favorite collegiate players, perhaps they've Skyped. According to a different source, a Skype session counts as a phone call and not against one of the top 30 visits. Therefore, a coach could screen a quarterback and do all the necessary board work over his computer screen.
- Smokescreens remain prevalent. A coach or general manager simply wants another team behind him to think he's drafting a certain player. Simple as that.
- One underrated reason for a visit: A team wants to glean information about another player they're taking lower in the draft from the same school. Maybe Marcus Mariota has something to offer about Chip Kelly's system in general, or he knows something about one of his wide receivers that could be useful later on in the draft for a mid-level prospect.
- Many visits focus on fact checking: Asking about criminal background, personality or injury history information with another player they've had in for a visit.