The NFL’s underwear Olympics technically begins today.
It’s fashionable for people who want to sound smart to bash the combine and say that it’s “worthless” or “pointless.” The thing is, they couldn’t be more wrong. The combine is an absolutely crucial part of the draft process.
Unfortunately, us fans, and the internet draft pundits, don’t get to see and be apart of the useful portions of the combine. You see, there’s a reason the combine starts today, but the coverage of it doesn’t start until Saturday.
Players are there for 4 days. The first 3 are mostly interviews with team’s personnel directors, and medical examinations by team doctors. None of that is “open to the public.” Not even the media is allowed into the rooms where this stuff is taking place. This is the stuff that teams simply can’t live without, and is the primary reason why the combine exists.
Instead, we are only shown the workouts. To be honest, these are fairly worthless.
In fact, this are where the biggest mistakes on draft day are made. Darius Hayward-Bay was thought of as a 4th round pick until he ran his 40 yard dash. Then the Raiders took him in the 1st round and he’s never come close to living up to that draft position.
Another example is Trung Candidate, who was taken with the last pick of the 1st round by the Rams the year after they won the Super Bowl. He was considered a late round prospect by most people, but he ran a super fast 40 at the combine and the Rams then talked themselves into a major mistake. He only lasted 4 years in the league before he was out of football.
Mistakes are made in the other direction as well Arian Foster went undrafted in part because of his slow 40 time. Alfred Morris similarly fell to the 5th round last year.
It should always come back to what you see on the tape. If a Guard doesn’t show strength during the game, I don’t care how many times they can bench 225 lbs. If a receiver isn’t strong in the air in “jump ball” situations, does it really matter what their vertical jump measures out to be?
Unfortunately, every year teams forget this basic concept.