Many people question the usefulness of cone drills, shuttle runs, 40 yard dashes, and the bench press when it comes to football talent evaluation. I hear a lot of criticism over the event, maybe it's resentment over the fact that it gets more attention than regular season basketball or opening weekend of the MLS. Either way, you can't deny it matters.
Now certainly there's a ceiling to how much a 40 yard dash matters in comparison to game film, but that doesn't mean it's useless. The combine, like everything else in the evaluation process is a piece of the pie. And if you were trying to pick out the best pie available, wouldn't you want all the info you could gather on every slice of that pie? That's the combine. Here are some other examples of why the combine has real value heading into the NFL Draft:
- Mitch Trubisky 40 time: Conventional wisdom (and college stats) would tell you that Watson is a far superior runner. Watson ran for 1,934 yards in college, Trubisky only 439. However, they ran an identical 40 time.
- Rueben Foster outburst: The Combine, if nothing else, is very large and drawn out job interview. If you are seen yelling at hospital employees, that’s a pretty good gauge for the kind of guy you might be. Foster is the only athlete to EVER be kicked out of the NFL Combine while already in attendance.
- John Ross 40 time: In a game of inches, you can’t tell me that the guy who has the quickest straight line speed in NFL history (at least since they’ve been clocking this stuff) isn’t more valuable than he already was.
- Game film is a messy predictor as well: Many college stars looked great, played great, and put up huge numbers in college. So many factors go into what kind of a player you were when surrounded by teammates, and based on your competition level. I’ve always referenced Johnny Manziel, who was a complete stud in college, but we often forget he had two first round offensive lineman in front of him and Mike Evans to throw the ball to in his most prolific season. Game film can be just as misleading as the NFL Combine.