NFL clubs undertake all sorts of ways to evaluate college players, and they go beyond the physical measurements -- such as hand size and arm length -- that are made available at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Knee thickness is one such measurement, and for former UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch, it was a disqualifying factor for at least one NFL club, according to Bruins coach Jim Mora.
"One of the reasons Caleb Benenoch dropped with a team, and I'm not going to mention the team, is because the circumference of his knee did not meet their standards," Mora told reporters on Monday, per the Southern California News Group. "So they're measuring his knee's circumference, and found that his knee -- this is one team, not all 32 -- they said Caleb's knee is not thick enough. He's off our draft board. It's that particular in the NFL."
With an extensive coaching background in the NFL, including head-coaching stops with the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, Mora would certainly be in a position to know the depths to which NFL scouts will go to build an accurate scouting report. Benenoch was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He has yet to appear in a game this season.
NFL.com analyst and former scout Bucky Brooks said measuring knees is a relatively new trend for NFL teams.
"They started doing that at the (NFL Scouting) Combine. Some teams believe doctors can get some predictive value on someone's knee history or injury history based on the thickness of certain spots, checking bone density and things of that nature," Brooks said. "I think it's a more recent belief. It didn't exist when I was scouting (most recently in 2007), but I have heard of that kind of testing going on. I'm thinking they're gathering that information to try to predict who will be healthy or who could have potential issues based on body frame. When I was a scout, we just dealt with hand size, arm length, things of that nature."
Mora noted NFL scouts, after gathering all manner of measurements at the combine, will typically re-take the same measurements at the on-campus pro-day workouts that follow. Increasing one's knee thickness would seem like an impossible trick, although we've already learned that players can increase their hand size from one checkpoint to another during draft season.