The timers are running, the drills are set, and the coaches are monitoring ever measurable imaginable. Just weeks removed from Super Bowl XLVII, the NFL machine keeps churning with the 2014 NFL combine in full swing. This upcoming weekend, hundreds of college prospects will pour into Lucas Oil Stadium to receive their first dose of life in the NFL.
Every year the combine is unfairly touted as one of the most important aspects of the NFL draft process. Over the past couple of years there have been “combine freaks,” who marginally outperform their respective positions. In doing so, they raise their draft stock to unwarranted levels and are out of the league in a couple of years. The combine deceives many teams into drafting a player off his supreme athletic ability, hoping they will rewarded with their potential to be great (Darius Heyward Bey anyone?). Game tape doesn’t lie but the combine serves to mask some of those deficiencies.
On top of that, many of the top prospects don’t participate in the majority of the drills, choosing instead to showcase their skills in an individual self-directed pro workout. Potential number one picks Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater have already confirmed they will not throw at the combine. And why should they? The negatives far outweigh the positives in this particular scenario. Only four of the last five quarterbacks to go number one have thrown at the combine (Cam Newton in 2011). The 2012 number two overall pick Robert Griffin III said that quarterbacks “don’t run a game plan, never practice and you throw to guys you don’t practice with in an environment you’re not prepared for.”
I would like to state that my intention for this post is not to be narcissistic and say they should discontinue the combine. Rather, I would just wish GMs, coaches, and owners put less of a stake in how far an athlete can broad jump and more time looking through his game tape.