Don’t Believe the Combine Hype
It is undeniable that the combine has become another sideshow in the NFL circus.
Thousands will tune in over the next week to gawk over the greatness of 40 yard dash times and bench press reps of college players from around the country. Based on their performance, some players will be heralded as superstars and others will be considered table scraps.
This, however, is garbage. The combine is now a media fueled hype-machine that has become totally blown out of proportion. It needs to be taken down a notch, or twenty.
This is not to say that the combine is useless. There are certainly merits to knowing the exact height, weight, and favorite color of every prospect. However, the amount of emphasis placed on those numbers is ridiculous.
Every year it seems that some prospects get the Cinderella treatment. They’re the overlooked loser that turns out to be a really hot girl who hopefully wants to make you steaks on a daily basis. Instead, you get someone like Vernon Gholston—also known as a “workout warrior.” Gholston, who was taken sixth overall in 2008, wowed people with his combine numbers but didn’t record a single sack in his three-year NFL career.
Other guys turn into the pumpkin. For example, look at Vontaze Burfict from last year.
Burfict was an intriguing physical prospect who was considered in some circles to be a first round pick…before the combine. He then had an awful showing in Indianapolis, a 40 time of 5.09 being the most notable, which famously led to Mike Mayock calling him a “non-draftable kid.” Burfict fell out of the draft entirely and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He started 15 games in Cincinnati and notched 89 tackles in his rookie year. Not bad for someone undraftable.
As a result, what I would like to propose is a more rational way of understanding the combine. It shouldn’t be seen as a way of discovering who is the next big thing or who isn’t. The combine should be viewed as a means of confirming or disproving what we already know based on game tape. Bumping a B rated player to a B+ or B-, if you will.
For example, Patrick Peterson came into the 2011 draft as one of the best players available and had the tape to back it up. He simply bolstered those expectations with a stellar combine performance, affirming the A+. In the same way, marginal prospects from smaller schools will not impress in any way thus confirming their unimpressive game tape.
The game of football is entirely different from a workout in a gym. To quote Mitch Hedberg, “You’re a great chef. Can you farm?” The NFL game has so many dynamics that simply aren’t measured in Indy. Do they have a drill for shedding blocks? For diagnosing a play? Playing to the whistle? No.
This is why the combine really lacks substance. As I had written in this piece for Bleeding Green Nation, it’s inevitable that guys like Denard Robinson will rise on draft boards after the combine. Don’t buy into it.
The workout will provide a basic skeleton for a player, but there is a much more complex picture which needs to be colored in. Consider that many of these guys have three or four years of college football experience, which means somewhere around 39-52 games played against similarly skilled competition.
Therefore, if a prospect has the ability to play in the NFL, he (or she) has shown it already. So, while this may make me a public enemy, when the next big thing inevitably shoots up draft boards over the next few days don’t believe the hype.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and let us know.