The Underwear Olympics are finally upon us! It’s time for the NFL to host their annual combine live from Indy, where the top collegiate football players jump, run, lift, catch, throw and answer everything the league can dish out. I can still remember years ago the Philadelphia Eagles swooning over a combine superstar by the name of Mike Mamula. Mamula was a monster at the combine and a huge bust at the next level! Jobs are won and lost on decisions made based on college football players tested on non-football merits. That’s one of the reasons it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year!
Who knew that almost 33% of players that participated in the 2013 combine weren’t even drafted? And were you aware that 12% of all the players drafted weren’t even invited to the combine! The process of finding a guy that can step in and help a team right away based on a few days in February is tricky at best. Anyone remember Darrius Heyward-Bey’s combine performance? Let me freshen your memory: blazing speed in the 40 yard dash lifted a certain middle round draft pick from Maryland all the way into the upper first round for the Oakland Raiders, one of their more memorable busts. Granted, it was the Raiders of Al Davis, a man obsessed with speed, but still. Fall in love with the wrong players and derail your ball club. Ask Matt Millen and the people of Detroit. That proud city suffered through years of ineptitude all stemming from combine/draft missteps. The effects linger still today.
Why even have a combine in the first place? Why is the 40 yard dash a measuring tool? The game of football is based on short distance jaunts and very rarely does a player who’s not split wide and swift run 40 yards. And the wonderful Wonderlic? The Wonderlic test is made up of questions that have no bearing on a players ability to play the game of football, I’m convinced of that, but still it’s a gauge of potential for NFL teams. Have you sampled the questions? They’re laughable! What it comes down to is you can’t measure heart and that’s what so much of the game comes down to. There’s never been a test for it and never will there be. Yet, with all of its flaws and imperfections, I so look forward to the combine. It’s my chance to guess right (or wrong) along with the scouts and GMs, coaches and owners on how that corner from Oregon will grade out. I mean let’s face it, I can miss just as bad as they can on high draft picks…without irritating season ticket holders!
Follow Kirk McEwen on Twitter @KirkMcEwen