Over the next week the NFL is about to come back onto the national stage after a few weeks off. The annual NFL Combine is about to start and has become a yearly premier event. NFL scouts, teams, media, bloggers and now even the most casual of fans will either turn on the NFL network to catch some drills or read up on Combine results. The Combine is a place where draft hopefuls can come and showcase their physical abilities, meet with teams, and draft values can be significantly altered. The problem with the NFL draft for most fans though is that they only see a piece of the puzzle. Fans cannot sit in on the interviews, medical testing, or psychological testing. Often most fans only tune in for a few events, mostly the 40 yard dash and the bench press as they classic events and the easiest to understand. Fans think simplistically, fast 40 times equals speed and high reps in the bench must equal strength. That however is only a partial truth. The 40 yard dash often does show speed but that is simply straight line, breakaway speed which is great for WRs or RBs but how often do you see a DE running 40 yards at a full out sprint. Instead fans need to realize that each position is different and therefore the focus on drills should be different. This sounds like a simple concept but you would be surprised how many people I know who don’t understand this. Take for example the DE position. I would look more closely at the 3 cone drill and shuttle run for the DE’s then I would the 40 yard dash. The 3 cone drill and shuttle run focus on agility and change of pace speed which is a more relevant measurement for a DE then simply a 40 yard dash which measures straight line speed.
The overall issue with the NFL combine is that media and fans alike tend to over analyze and over react to Combine results. The Combine results are valuable in terms of grading prospects but also make sure to take them with a grain of salt. Simply look at last year’s so called winners and losers list. After last year’s Combine Janoris Jenkins was listed as a loser by multiple media outlets (FoxSports, B/R, etc.) and yet he had a sensational rookie year and was in the talk for Defensive Rookie of the Year at times. On the flip side was Stephen Hill who took the Combine by storm last year with amazing numbers. Rarely used in his Georgia Tech offense many thought that his amazing Combine performance was a sign that he would be the steal of the draft at WR but his rookie year showed that this WR has some work to do. After a super start where he 2 TDs and 89 yards against Buffalo, Hill’s season quickly derailed due to injuries but more importantly due to crucial drops namely against the Patriots. Also on a few lists I found Justin Blackmon, as a loser. I could continue this list from last year and year’s prior but I hope you get the point.
The goal for this post was to try to make sure fans stay grounded and not over react over the course of this week. I like most fans have been dying for some football since the Super Bowl ended. I think that is why the Combine gets so much hype and why sometimes people over analyze it. Due to the deprivation of football after the Super Bowl fans/media are starving for something football related to focus on, enter the Combine. Over the course of the week I will be watching the Combine like everyone else, but just remember to relax and don’t overreact, the Combine isn’t the end all be all for a players draft stock.