The NFL Combine is an integral part of the NFL’s off-season.
It’s where a lot of college players measurables are taken, such as 40-yard dash times, ability to make certain throws (quarterbacks only), broad jumps, vertical jumps, and various agility tests. Scouts and GMs also measure college players’ aptitudes in the classroom in going over film to see how well those players read coverages and formations.
A lot of interviews are conducted during the combine to get a feel for the players they may have an interest in drafting, save the dumb “was your mother a prostitute?” questions.
And that is all the combine should be used for.
It should never, EVER be used as the only way to determine the draft status of a particular player. No one can rationally translate how good a player looks in shorts to how well he will perform on the field.
That’s what game film is for. If a player makes plays on the football field against good competition, then chances are that player will do well in the pros. It’s that simple.
NFL personnel gurus often make the mistake of drooling over what players can do in shorts (a.k.a., “workout warriors”) instead of what they do on the field.
Case in point: Vernon Gholston.
This was supposed to be a “can’t miss” prospect from Ohio State who wowed the scouts and GMs at the combine way back when – the ultimate workout warrior. Problem was before the combine, he was projected to be no better than a 3rd round draft pick.
At any rate, we all remembered what happened after he was drafted in the first round (SIXTH overall!) by the New York Jets. In three years in the NFL, Gholston recorded a whopping ZERO sacks! He was recently (and some would say mercifully) cut by the Jets, and may be well on his way out of the league.
One would think other scouts and GMs would learn from the Jet’s mistake. However, I feel we may be witnessing history repeating itself – albeit in a slighty less extent.
Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Now don’t get me wrong, Prince may end up being a good player on the next level. But again, scouts and GMs are being wowed over his fast 40 times as well as how good he looks in shorts. That is not necessarily a bad thing, until someone pops in the tape of him against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
Amukamara’s nickname might as well have been Charmin because he was being used and abused from start to finish in both games.
Instead of burning a high first-round pick on Amukamara, I would draft him the in second round. I would strongly take those two college games on film.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not totally hating on the combine. I mentioned the benefits earlier.
I’ll take it a step further: it is great for the small-school players. Scouts and GMs may not be as impressed with those small-school players on tape because they’d figure that it’s not against top-notch competition. If those players combine measurables compare favorably to the players from major programs, then the draft statuses of the small-school players would be greatly enhanced.