INDIANAPOLIS – The city of Indianapolis will welcome the NFL this week as the Combine continues to call Indy home for 34th year.
Another addition of the Combine, with a change in the schedule this year, starts a really important stretch that will shape a critical offseason for the Colts.
Here are 5 Colts-related topics to follow at the 2020 Combine:
- Ballard and Reich Talk: On Tuesday, Chris Ballard and Frank Reich will meet the media for their annual session at the Combine. This is the first time we’ve heard either talk in a podium setting since their end of the season press conferences, nearly two months again. The most important topic will be if there’s a contract update on Anthony Castonzo following Jim Irsay’s comments on Sunday. Reich will share his thoughts on some of the staff changes he’s made. Ballard will be asked about his opinion on the 2020 Draft class. After this week, the duo of Ballard and Reich aren’t scheduled to speak in an open media session again until the draft.
- Completing the Colts Profile: The Combine provides three key parts of the evaluation process for teams: on-field testing numbers, in-person interviews and medical reports. The Colts are no different than any other team in paying close attention to all of these areas. But we do know the Colts hold the combination of testing numbers and interviews in high regard. When you try to find common trends in Chris Ballard draft picks, they often rank at the top of their position in athletic testing numbers, along with being known as a higher character individual. This week will allow for the Colts to further narrow down their group of prospects that fit the team’s specific profile.
- Free Agency Begins? Officially, free agency and the new league year begins on March 18th, with the legal tampering period starting on March 16th. But in all reality, free agency ramps up this week with so many agents and personnel people all in Indianapolis for the Combine. Even with Combine drills now in primetime, you know the important decisions makers will still find time to meet with free agency a little more than 3 weeks away. We should start to see more re-signings by teams with their own free agents start to trickle out in the coming weeks. Do the Colts need to solidify decisions on notable free agents Devin Funchess, Jabaal Sheard and Clayton Geathers?
- Medicals For Tua: Every year there’s a high-end prospect that will have tons of attention on their medical evaluation. In 2020, that is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. By all accounts, Tagovailoa is a top-5 talent in this year’s draft class, but there’s some real concern about his health in the NFL. Tagovailoa had hip surgery for a dislocation and fractured back in November and is hoping to be healthy enough to perform at a Pro Day in April. Tagovailoa is not expected to compete in any on-field workouts this week. Still, his medical evaluation will be massive and have direct implications to the Colts. If Tagovailoa is ‘red flagged’ by some teams, he will be an interesting case study to see which team feels willing to take a risk on selecting him in April.
- Primetime Drills: The major change in this year’s Combine schedule comes with drills being in primetime (airing Thursday-Saturday on NFL Network from 4-11 PM and on Sunday from 2-7 PM). This will offer fans even more eyes to the on-field drills that take place. Some adjustments have been made to the on-field drills this year, wanting to get more of a competitive atmosphere, along with trying to tailor some of the drills to how the NFL has evolved. While some of the drills will have more of a competitive feel this year with using timing for more of the drills. The new schedule this year will shrink the 15-minute interviews for teams down to 45, from 60 in years past. For Indy, the more than 330 NFL prospects will be in town at the same time so that adds a new wrinkle to the logistics of an event that has run flawlessly for years. Another strong effort in that department, with more eyes watching in primetime, could help the Indy effort in retaining the Combine well into the 2020s. You know Jim Irsay wants that.