With the combine upon us I have to ask just how important is the process? I think the teams getting to know the players is vital. Teams learn a lot watching them in the process. How they interact. How they perform under the scrutiny of performing against a clock or tape measure. Then the all-important interview. I get this part.
Likewise I get the Medical test. Especially if a player has had an injury in his past and I see the merit in the drug tests. You might want to know if a player you are going to take is facing immediate disciplinary action for violations of NFL rules around illegal drug, PEDs or any other banned substances.
But how important are the ‘measurables’? Think about it in the context of what else they have to use to evaluate a guy…game film. Here is what they look at according to Top End Sports.
*Physical measurements - Each prospect has measurements of height, weight, arm length, and hand length. Also running backs and linemen’s body fat percentage are measured using the 'bod pod'.
*40 yard dash - This is a test of speed and power. From a three-point stance, a player runs 40 yards as fast as he can. Split times are recorded at 10 and 20 yards to measure acceleration. The 10-yard time is especially important for offensive and defensive linesmen because they usually don't run further than that during a play.
*Bench press - The bench press test is a test of upper body strength. Each player must bench press 225 lbs. as many times as they can. Quarterbacks and wide receivers are exempt from the test. The bench press is the most important for offensive and defensive linemen.
*Vertical jump - A test of explosion and power. The player jumps off both feet straight up as high as he can. The vertical jump is most important for receivers and defensive backs.
*Broad jump - Similar to the vertical jump, this is a test of lower body strength, explosion, and power. The broad jump measures how far you can jump, not how high. From a standing position, the player jumps forward off two feet as far as he can. The broad jump is the most important for running backs, linemen, and linebackers.
*20-yard shuttle - Also called the 5-10-5 Shuttle, this is a test of agility including speed, explosion and changing of directions. Technique is also important. Each player will be timed how fast they can go 5 yards laterally, then 10 back in the opposite direction, and finishing 5 yards back to the start line.
*Three-cone drill - This is an agility test where the players runs around three cones placed in the shape of an "L". There are 5 yards between each cone.
*60-yard shuttle - This is an anaerobic test, a ladder shuttle of progressing distances. From a starting line, a player runs 5 yards and back, then 10 yards and back, then 15 yards and back, touching the line each time.
I guess it makes some sense as a piece of a puzzle but should it really override game film?
If a receiver is not quite as fast as some but consistently uses what he has to get open is he less valuable then a faster receiver who can’t create separation? There’s a difference between being fast and playing fast. Is a QB with ‘small’ hands more likely to fail if he can make all the throws with accuracy and requisite speed or touch? Is an LT with ‘short’ arms that uses great technique to keep his QBs uniform clean not worthy of consideration?
Does a good or bad combine performance override multiple years of game film? Here are just a few combine performances that just didn’t translate:
Mike Kudla, DE from Ohio State had the highest number of bench presses at the time (still the second most all time). He went undrafted and never saw a regular season game.
Jerome Mathis, WR from Hampton had a 4.28 40, 4th best all time. In three seasons with Houston he caught 6 passes but did have one decent season as a return man.
Let’s not forget Vernon Gholston or Mike Mamula.
So how much should a players stock rise or fall based on the measurables and combine performance?