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It has only been a couple of weeks since we said farewell to the 2014 season, but already major things are happening in the NFL. We’ve had all the head coaches appointed for next season, and the teams are already preparing for the draft with the NFL combine just having been completed.

The draft is one of those things that generate thousands of words and hours of talk, and I can understand that as this is a time of hope for all teams, when everyone can be excited about the draft. However, the annual parade of draft grades should be taken with a grain of salt as no one really will know how successful a draft has been for several years. I will be following with some interest and hoping for pass rushers, offensive tackles, and depth at linebacker/receiver for the Bengals, but I really don’t have any expertise to bear as I don’t follow college football, so whilst I will be following the build up with interest, I won’t be regurgitating what I hear here.

That said, I will make a quick comment about the recently completed NFL combine. There is a huge amount of variables that go into the selection of a draft pick, and whilst the combine results do make up part of the equation, it is only part of the process. Those who were invited will have spent weeks in camp preparing for the various tests and drills, but the coverage is often obsessed with the forty yard dash, broad jump etc. When you take all of the tests completed together, you can get a picture of a player’s physical talents, but this is only part of what is evaluated, and it is not even the most important part of the combine.

If the underwear Olympics is the spectacle for the fans, the real work goes on in the medicals and team interviews, and even here the preparation that goes into attending the combine is hindering the teams. The prospects are so well coached that they know how to handle the interview, and have all the right answers. You only have to look at the difference between what Johnny Manziel was saying before the draft, and his behaviour during the season to see that saying the right thing, and doing, are two very different things, and I just hope that he is getting all that he needs in rehab. However, central to this whole process is the medical, where any injuries or potential problems gets scrutinised.

I very rarely have specific players in mind for my team as I generally don’t recognise them, but I no more immune to this time of year than any other fan. That said, I do believe in building your team through the draft so I am not too worried about the upcoming free agency, apart from certain players that I’d like the Bengals to hold on to.

So as the players start thinking about next season, and begin to prepare themselves, so am I. There are things I already want to change about my writing routines next year in terms of what games I will look at and what coaching tape I watch. I’m also doing some reading to try to expand my knowledge and learn more things to look for. I will try to document these things and spend the offseason bringing some more specific articles, freed as I am from the schedule imposed by the relentless run of games. It appears that even though there were times where the season got on top of me, it did not take long for the itch to return. As Ross Tucker is apt to say, I have the disease. So whilst I have already taken advantage of having a bit more time, I’m already looking to use it in the pursuit of better football writing.

So let the offseason fun begin, as I look for the small incremental improvements that combine to make any enterprise a success.

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