Ahh yes the NFL combine, the only time you can view 20 something’s in tight spandex and not feel completely prop 8.
First thing about the Combine. It’s just a measuring stick. An insurance policy if you will. I always like to relate the combine to ACT/SAT scores, but Icehouse made a great point suggesting that the draft is essentially the college application process.
Let me explain. As a player you have a body of work. (High School…GPA) however, the pro teams still want to make sure you are legit. (ACT/SAT) That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now some people get all extreme on me. Some say OHHHHH snap he just ran a 4.3 he’s lets draft his ass. Others claim that the combine is a total overhyped waste. When in reality it’s somewhere in the middle.
I’d also just like to point out that the combine is not all about crazy ass exercises. There are interviews, (examining various things) the infamous wonderlic, and other intangibles. Those other intangibles coaches look at are: how do players compete in a drill? How do they deal with the media? Did they prepare? (personally I think this is huge)
So going back to our little college analogy. Imagine you’re Harvard, you have a bunch of kids with high GPA’s, Some participated in many extra-curricular activities (intangibles) but at the end of the day you’ll still look at that SAT score to make sure what you read on that application (film) is legit.
Now that we got that out of the way let’s examine those standardized tests. (All 40’s laser timed…which means they’re legit)
“The SAT was easy”
Pat White- How can you not love White. The guy seems like just a happy go lucky QB, who happens to be a great athlete. The evolution of White began this season, proving that could throw the ball on a consistent basis. The next step occurred during the Senior Bowl where White showed incredible accuracy under center. (a major concern for shotgun QB’s) Finally, White proved he was an athlete running a 4.55 40, and a 35 inch vertical. During the receiver/QB drills he again showcased his touch. He doesn’t have that perfect Peyton release, but you know what, neither does Romo or Warner. However, the wise Dr. Saturday made an excellent point about White. He’s not really a lights out QB, and he’s not really a lights out receiver. He’s in Football purgatory. Regardless, I’m still rooting for him.
Connor Barwin- Who’s this guy? He’s a 6’4 256 lb defensive end from Cincinnati. This past season he recorded 11 sacks and 15.5 TFL’s. This was his first year playing the position. Prior to the season Barwin played TE, but was evidently moved to the dark side because of the Natti’s spread. So the production is there, but what about them skillz? 4.66 40, A vertical jump of 40.5, and was a top performer in several other agility drills. I became of fan of Barwin when I saw him play against Tech in the Orange bowl. One of the sports cliché’s that actually exists is a motor. Mario Williams has it, Julius Peppers has it, Chris Long has it, and so does Barwin. The greatest thing about this guy is that he’s essentially a poor man’s Chris Long. Where do you want to put him? DE? Fine. OLB in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 under front? Go for it. A third TE? He’s your guy.
Ian Johnson- Ahh yes America’s favorite running back/knitter combo. Johnson stood out in what was a lackluster RB weekend. Now to be sure, Johnson’s performance last weekend may have ensured that he actually got drafted in the first place.
What? You think GRH is always big ballin. Ian Johnson said F-that noise while he was running his 4.46 40. He told you to check yourself when he ran a 4.18 pro agility run. Finally, during his 26 rep bench press he was whistling “ farmer in the dell.”
Is Ian Johnson going on the second day? Probably. Did he run a scheme at Boise that is similar to the Broncos, Colts, Falcons, and Packers, Yep. Is he really just a cooler, faster version of Mike Hart. I think so. But you know what screw it. I’m making Ian a friend of GRH. I hope he gets a nice paycheck to buy some stuff for that sweet ass wife of his.
Rhett Bomar- The prodigal son has returned. After leaving Boomer Sooner, Bomar took a giant shit on 1-AA competition while playing at Sam Houston State. Bomar has always had a good arm, and he impressed during his freshman year at OK, but still there isn’t a hell of a lot of film with him against elite competition. Now, not that these combine drills are all that important for QB’s but the one thing I look at is footwork. That is, the ability to sidestep a rusher and fire it. Bradford ran a 4.06 pro agility run which would make him the Best QB, RB, and WR. Does that translate to an NFL QB? Not really. But Bomar’s performance in the tests and throwing drills, really helped him last weekend. At the end of the day, Don’t fret for Rhett, because he always has a sweet fallback gig as a car salesman.
Brian Robiske (Honorable Mention)
“Oh I’m a terrible test taker”
Andre Smith- All tests= N/A. Yeah so Andre basically cost himself $25 mil by claiming “I’m not in shape.” And then goes AWOL on the combine. Great job, you may have dropped to the #4 tackle.
Running Backs- This year’s class wasn’t really great, but the Big three, Moreno, McCoy and Wells didn’t really impress. Don’t get me wrong these guys will be 1st/2nd round picks, and I think they will all be serviceable pro’s. However, they didn’t do anything to help/separate themselves in the combine.
“My dad’s on the board of Trustees so it’s no big deal”
Aaron Curry-My main man Mike Mayock calls Curry the safest pick in the draft, and I’d have to agree with him. Curry has everything you want in a Linebacker. Size, speed, and tackling. Curry at 6’2 254 running a 4.56 40 and busting out 25 reps on the bench has all the athletic tools. However, it’s the diversity of the guy that really gives scouts a boner. At Wake (A program I highly respect) Curry played the Sam in an under front. In other situations he was either playing the Mike or Will in the same scheme. Finally, sometimes they would set that under front to the field/bench and Curry would cover down Receivers in 11 and 10 personnel settings. I’d especially look at the 2X2 sets where curry was set to the field and acted in the same way as a nickel back. In short, Curry is the #1 linebacker and he didn’t disappoint. He can play every linebacker position in any scheme, and it really depends how teams will utilize him.
Brian Orakpo- If curry is the safest pick, Orakpo is a close second. Orakpo has the ability to play an end in a 4-3 or a OLB in a 3-4. He ran a 4.7 40 which would put him in the top ten linebacker times. I may be biased because he went to the same high school as my former roommates, however Orakpo can play, and will be a great addition to any team.
Jason Smith- By default Jason Smith became the #1 tackle during the combine. Smith (Andre) went AWOL and no one else really established themselves. Congrats, Jason. You may have earned yourself $25 mil by not sucking.
QB’s- Sanchez and Stafford did not disappoint during the combine. Meaning they didn’t F up. They both put up good numbers, and they'll both throw the ball well. That’s about it. It’s your move Detroit.
So there’s my take on the combine. Who knows what Crabtree will run at his pro-day, or if Andre Smith will develop a brain. All I know is that it’s an excuse to talk about football in February.