The Combine: Help or Hype?


Posted Feb 22, 2008


The Scouting Combine is known for making somebodies out of nobodies and bringing players from the third and fourth round into the first and second round. But just how important is the Combine? To look at the numbers, one could argue the top scoring athletes don't benefit all that much.

All of the talk that annually surrounds the NFL Scouting Combine typically centers on those players who improve their draft stock with a strong performance in Indianapolis. But just how important is the workout session? If you look at the top numbers producers, an argument can be made that it doesn’t really add up to all that much.

Since 2000, none of the top performers in the six primary categories have made a huge impact and a couple of them weren't even drafted.

Consider the following top scorers in the different categories:

40-Yard Dash – The best time has been 4.28 by Jerome Mathis of Hampton in 2005. In three years in the NFL, he has just six receptions and has made more news off the field than on the field.

Bench Press – Two players – DT Leif Larsen of UTEP in 2000 and DE Mike Kudla of Ohio State in 2006 both set the high-water mark with 45 reps of 225 pounds. Larsen played just two seasons with the Bills and Kudla has never played in a regular season game.

3-Cone Drill - The mark of 6.45 seconds by Texas A&M cornerback Sedrick Curry in 2000 still stands, but, like Kudla, Curry never played in a regular-season NFL game.

20-Yard Shuttle - Kevin Kasper of Iowa set the current record with 3.73 seconds in 2001. In his career, he caught just 24 passes for 287 yards.

Vertical Jump - North Carolina safety Gerald Sensabaugh holds the current standard of a whopping 46 inches, nearly four feet straight up. He didn’t go until the fifth round and has started just seven games in his career with the Jaguars in three seasons.

10-Yard Split - A test designed to determine a player’s burst of speed, three 2007 draftees, including two Vikings – hold the distinction of being the fastest with a time of 1.43 seconds. Aundrae Allison, Marcus McCauley and Utah safety Eric Weddle all tied for the top honors. Weddle didn’t go until the end of the second round, McCauley wasn’t drafted until the third round, Allison didn’t go until the second day.

There is something to be said about improving a player’s stock at the Combine, but with the top performers in all of the major categories not becoming top-end pros makes some wonder if maybe the Combine doesn’t live up to its own hype.

FRIDAY NOTES
* The Falcons won the three-way coin flip for the Nos. 3-5 picks in this year’s draft. The Falcons G.M. Tom Dimitroff picked tails. The Raiders will have the fourth pick and the Chiefs will pick at No. 5. With both the Falcons and Chiefs potentially interested in QB Matt Ryan, the flip took on plenty of significance.
* The deadline for franchising players came and went Thursday with the Patriots opting not to put the designation on Randy Moss, making him an unrestricted free agent able to negotiate a new deal with any team if he so chooses.
* The NFL’s competition committee is considering changing the seeding process for playoff teams. These changes would involve not rewarding a team simply because it won its division with one of the top four seeds, instead seeding teams by overall record, which means the two wild card teams could potentially host a division champion if that team had the better record.
* The NFL is looking into a charge being brought by the Bears that the 49ers tampered with LB Lance Briggs last year. The charge alleges that the 49ers got into contract talks with agent Drew Rosenhaus while Briggs was still under contract with the Bears – a violation of the league’s tampering policy.
* The Broncos are apparently on their way to trading disgruntled wide receiver Javon Walker. The team apparently is having some talks with the Bucs about a potential deal.


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