In speed-dating scene, team names are irrelevant

Every year at the Combine, reporters will ask players which NFL teams have talked to them. This is especially true of those local guys who want to take the story back to their excited readers -- "Hey, Joe Shlabotnik talked to the Browns for 30 minutes today! They traded recipes for flan and talked about the under front defense!" But the way things are set up these days, assessing team interest based on those interviews is absolutely impossible. With draft prospects shuttling from team to team at a road-runner's pace, the relevance of a fast chat is dubious at best. The same questions are asked, the same pre-coached and prefab answers are given, and the conveyor belt goes ever on.

Example: Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate, who's blessed with a first-round projection, gave his full formal Combine interview schedule during his media session today. Last night, he met with the St. Louis Rams. Tonight, it'll be the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins. Tomorrow, it'll be (deep breath) ... the Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, and Indianapolis Colts.

Wow. Now, could all of these teams use the kind of inside toughness, smooth speed, and route correctness that Tate brings to the table? Absolutely. Certain teams more than others? Perhaps, but where do you draw that line? This is why, as much as we may want to believe that Team X has a bead on a player because of a specific interview, hold off on buying that custom replica jersey just yet when your favorite team spends some time with your dream draft prospect.

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