Is the NFL point-counterpoint really that important?
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 00:02
Dalton: While one cannot take the Combine for granted, one should also not place too much emphasis on it. The Combine serves a simple purpose. It gives an opportunity to little-known players with credible collegiate stats aspiring to be drafted highly by professional organizations. College football has expanded in the time that has passed since the Combine was introduced to the football world over 30 years ago. The talent spread across the college football landscape exceeds the parameters of the national spotlight. While its drills may seem corny, the Combine provides scouts with accurate insight into players’ athletic skill sets. Get rid of the Combine and you crush the little man. All-Americans are destined to be high draft picks regardless, but it has been the performances of less-regarded players such as Colin Kaepernick, Dwight Freeney and Chris Johnson that have made the Combine both special and invaluable over the years.
Phil: That is true, and I do think is has some value, but the Combine is still overrated. The two major events that everyone stresses, the 40-yard dash and the 225 bench press rep, do not necessarily equate to success in the NFL. Sure, being straight-line fast and weight-room strong is good. But until they bring the bench press onto the field, these skills do not have practical application. Some of the skills the Combine does not test for are work ethic, toughness and character; coincidently these are some of the most important traits in becoming a successful NFL athlete.
To prove this point, Tom Brady clocked the slowest 40-yard dash of all-time by a QB, yet he has become one of the most successful players the position has ever seen.
Dalton: A good friend of mine was highly interested in playing baseball for a collegiate powerhouse. Hurling a low-90s fastball as a high school senior, he more than had the ability to do so. Playing a game in the area of his “dream” school and under the impression that a scout was at this game, my friend performed. Approaching the scout after the game, my friend asked him what he thought of the dominant effort. The scout responded slyly, “Sorry kid, got here late. I missed it. We can’t see everybody.” The NFL Scouting Combine eliminates this problem for athletes wishing to compete at the next level. If the athletes are talented enough to garner an invite, the Combine provides them with a stage to perform. It does not matter if an athlete played for Alabama or Western Kentucky. Individuals at the Combine are just that – true “individuals.” The Combine must be kept. It is football’s avenue for aspiring NFL players to impress.
Phil: It is true that the Combine gives players from some of the smaller schools a chance to show off their ability. Unfortunately, a lot of the players that “blow up the Combine” do not continue the success with the NFL. In the last five years, we have seen guys like Vernon Gholston, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Darius Heyward-Bey and Dontari Poe use amazing workouts to boost their draft stock. On the other hand, players like Brandon Spikes, Rob Gronkowski and Desean Jackson slid because of bad showings. What does this all mean? That the NFL Scouting Combine is not a measure of success and needs to be taken with several grains of salt.