For draft lovers and college football fans alike, the NFL combine is one of the biggest events of the year. At this point every year, the top NFL prospects gather in Indianapolis to showcase their physical attributes and personalities in an effort to improve their draft stock as much as possible. As with any NFL endeavor, there’s winners and losers. Through all the drills, interviews, and tests, what do we actually learn? Well, not very much.
Contrary to where you may think I’m going with this argument, I don’t view the NFL combine as a worthless collection of scouts, coaches, and prospects. There’s a lot of value to be had with having so many top tier prospects in one place at the same time. The gains made, however, are minimal and reserved on for the most diligent scouts and coaches.
This is my point, a fast 40 time at the combine really doesn’t tell us very much. There’s hours upon hours of film for us to look at of each players’ college days that tell us far more than a 40 yard sprint will ever tell us.
A player that can give us a 42 inch vertical in shorts doesn’t tell us anything. Again, there’s hours upon hours of game film to tell us whether that player can jump or not.
The real value of the combine is to get accurate measurements of each elite prospect. As much as we’d like to believe our collegiate institutions, their measurements, especially height and weight, are always subject to extreme scrutiny. That’s why when we heard that Robert Griffin III was indeed 6’2″, we all gave a deep sigh of relief.
My point in all of this is to take coverage of the NFL draft with a grain of salt. Everyone is looking for a story to tell, and the draft is an easy outlet, and at this point the only outlet, to report on. There’s value to seeing these guys sprinting and jumping in shorts, but it’s minimal. In looking at draft prospects, it’s important to consider players’ entire lines of work. A receiver running a 4.35 40 time is worthless if he can’t catch. Let’s watch and read about the combine, consider it’s value, and enjoy it. Let’s not move a projected first round pick to the third round because he ran a slow time or came in 10 above his playing weight. Let’s take the combine for what it is.