For every NFL draft analyst who hypes up a player after a blazing 40-yard dash, there's another analyst to opine that the combine drills are irrelevant.
Irrelevant or not, the combine has served as an important barometer to gauge the incoming NFL talent. Since it's beginning in Arizona in 1985, the combine has produced its share of false positives.
The swoosh sound you heard when you opened up this slide was Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill running past you. Or maybe it was the sound he's making on the way up NFL team's draft boards.
At 6'4", 215lbs., Hill already possessed a coveted frame for a wideout in the NFL. Then he showed off a 39.5" vertical to go with his 11'1" broad jump. But when he passed the finish line of the 40-yard dash 4.36 seconds after starting, scouts began to scan other players' names at the top of their draft board to replace his name with.
As I've said previously, the Arizona Cardinals need to trade down with the Cleveland Browns in order to acquire a second-round pick. With the Browns' 22nd pick in the first round, Arizona should take a close look at Hill. He would open up the offense and give Kevin Kolb a solid second option at wideout—something not currently on Arizona's roster.
Ohio State offensive lineman Mike Adams has a new nickname: The Rock. After his dismal performance at the Combine—Adams pushed up 225 lbs on the bench press only 19 times—his value sunk like a rock across all draft boards.
The 6'7", 323 pound mammoth didn't lose inches off his height or pounds from his frame, so he still has the body type to play the left tackle position. If the Arizona Cardinals follow my plan of trading down to acquire a second-round pick, then they can use that bonus pick on a guy like Adams.
Adams was previously projected to go in the first round. In the second round, he's a bargain. The combine numbers in Adams' case may be misleading because he was a solid tackle on the field. He warrants a closer look by the Cardinals for the second, and possibly the third, round.
It's doubtful that the Arizona Cardinals will select a wide receiver in the first round. The holes along the offensive line need to be filled, and the free-agent market for offensive tackles is lacking. Stanford's Jonathan Martin is the favorite to play in the desert next year.
After drafting an offensive lineman, the Cardinals will need to improve their receiving corps. Appalachian State's Brian Quick may be the third-round answer.
Quick is 6'3", 220 pounds and ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine. The red flag on Quick is his Division 1-AA school. Despite the 1-AA scarlet letter on his chest, Quick has the physical attributes and playmaking ability to have a solid career in the NFL.
Texas Longhorn linebacker Emmanuel Acho may join his brother Sam on the Arizona Cardinals' roster. The younger Acho brother has had a good showing at the combine thus far.
He's had a good interview, displayed solid character and physical strength—24 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press.
Both of the Acho brothers have a strong work ethic. Sam showed his during his rookie season with the Cardinals, and Emmanuel will do the same if Arizona gives him a closer look in April.
The guy on the ground in the picture to the left is Stanford wideout Chris Owusu. That's a picture of him suffering a concussion—his third in 13 months.
Even after the concussions, Owusu cannot give up the dream of playing in the NFL. And with his performance at the combine, the Arizona Cardinals should take a closer look at fulfilling his dream.
Owusu—Andrew Luck's primary target—ran a combine best 4.36 among wideouts. Several teams will take a hard look at the damaged wide receiver, and the Cardinals should be one of them.
There are two players who the Arizona Cardinals should let slide on by during the NFL draft. The combine showed that these two guys are not worth the risk of drafting.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
The combine may not be the best predictor of talent for NFL teams, but it sure can expose risk from time-to-time.
This time, Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict should've been arrested for his indecent exposures. Yes, exposures. First, he came up lame on the bench press—19 reps of 225lbs. Second—and more importantly—Burfict cemented the saying, "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."
In Burfict's press conference, he actually blamed his college coaches on his declining performance in 2011:
I played average. I could've played better. That's what hurt me at times. The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn't know if I would start a game or be benched. It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it.
And with that statement, Burfict has removed all doubt. He should also be removed from the Arizona Cardinals' draft board.
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The 40-yard dash may mean little for teams evaluating most players, but for wideouts, it can be a telling sign. In Kendall Wright's situation, the 40-yard dash was the most important drill at the combine.
At 5'10", 190 lbs, Wright's pull for teams was the fact that he was fast enough to stretch the field. Prior to running his 40-yard dash at the combine, Wright was expected to run in the 4.3 range.
Apparently forgetting to take off the parachute behind him, Wright ran a 4.61 40-yard dash. That poor 40-time will remove Wright from the first round and from many teams' draft boards. Arizona should use the whiteout on his name as well.