COLUMN: NFL Combine generally overrated
I’m about as hardcore of a sports fanatic as you’re going to find. I love sports — the passion, the action and the excitement — pretty much everything about them.
However, there is one event that really gets under my skin when I hear people talk about everything that comes as a result of this one event.
Of course, I’m talking about the NFL Combine.
In my humble opinion, the NFL Combine is the most over-analyzed, overrated event in all of sports.
A couple hundred college players who have aspirations of making it in the bright lights of the National Football League descend on Indianapolis for several days of running through drills, taking tests and doing hours of interviews with NFL executives and scouts.
Now, don’t get me wrong — the combine is a great tool for scouts to see players and figure out who is worth drafting.
Former Sooners have benefitted greatly from showcasing their talents on such a scrutinized stage. Running back DeMarco Murray ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash and defensive tackle Adrian Taylor, despite still recovering from an ankle injury suffered against Texas Tech Nov. 13, posted 34 reps on the bench press, third highest among the defensive tackles.
Safety Quinton Carter and defensive end Jeremy Beal also had solid workouts, and while they didn’t wow anyone, they reaffirmed what most scouts have thought about them all along.
Last year, offensive tackle Trent Williams had a fantastic workout at the combine and it boosted him from a top-15 pick to the No. 4 pick in the draft.
But sometimes individual events get way over-hyped.
For example, let’s look at Darrius Heyward-Bey, a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders and a benefactor of a great combine workout — and Al Davis’ stupidity as an owner.
Heyward-Bey was a decent receiver at Maryland who chose to forgo his senior year to enter the NFL Draft. A lot of scouts thought he was a good receiver and would definitely be drafted, but most thought he wouldn’t be a high pick.
Then came the combine, where Heyward-Bey posted a 4.25 in the 40-yard dash. Suddenly, everyone was raving about him and what a great pro prospect he was. The Raiders took him at No. 7, ahead of stud receivers Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
Heyward-Bey’s career stats? 35 catches for 490 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons’ worth of work.
Crabtree gained 135 more yards in 2009 alone. Oh, and he was in a contract dispute the first five games, so he did so in just 11 games.
Yeah, good call there, Al.
The 40-yard dash is probably the most over-hyped event of all the combine workouts. Of course the fast guys are going to run fast — all they’re wearing is spandex that’s basically just another layer of skin because it’s been designed to be as aerodynamic as possible.
Last time I checked, players wear pads, helmets and about three more layers on Sundays than they do at the combine.
It doesn’t make sense to me to gauge a player by his speed when he’s not dressed for how he will play in a game.
Other players have actually been critiqued because of their combine workouts. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay bashed former Sooner Gerald McCoy when he only managed 12 reps of 225 pound on the bench press. They questioned his toughness, among other things.
Obviously, they didn’t know McCoy very well.
The combine has its uses, but overall it’s taken too seriously and seen as the end all, be all for NFL prospects.
When did we quit caring about a player’s performance on the field and care more about his play in a sterilized environment?
— Luke McConnell, journalism junior