2012 NFL Draft: Scouting Combine and Pro Day Standouts Destined to Disappoint
There is a lesson out there that, no matter how often taught, never seems to stick with NFL teams: Success at the Scouting Combine does not guarantee a successful NFL career; impressive measurements at Pro Days do not always lead to impressive on-field statistics.
They do, however, turn scouts and owners into very impulsive shoppers.
Al Davis would've paid millions for a Snuggie if it ran a 4.3 40-yard dash.
Matt Jones, Vernon Gholston, Taylor Mays, Jonathan Sullivan and several others are clear examples of this transient lesson.
At the 2004 combine, the 6'6" and 218-lb Jones, a college quarterback making the switch to receiver, dropped the collective jaws of every scout in attendance by running a 4.37 40-yard dash and posting a 39.5" vertical leap. He was then selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the seventh overall pick.
Inconsistencies and substance abuse have since derailed his career.
This year, as every year, has its fair share of workout warriors; players who have vaulted up draft boards after impressive combine and pro day performances. Some will have long, meaningful careers at the next level. Others—not so much.
Here are a few standouts destined to disappoint.
DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
Poe was the star of this year's combine after measuring in at 6'4", 346 lbs., and lifting a combine-best 44 repetitions of 225 lbs.
For a grand finale, the defensive tackle ran a blistering 4.98 40-yard dash.
A guy with that blend of size, speed and strength must have dominated at Memphis, right? Not really.
In three seasons for the Tigers, Poe totaled 98 tackles (21.5 for a loss) and five sacks. Not the most earth-shattering numbers for someone already compared to All-Pro Haloti Ngata.
I believe the old saying goes: When in doubt, just watch game tape.
His raw mechanics will need coaching up before he makes an impact at the next level, but his natural talent gives him a head start. High expectations, however, may never be met.
OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina
Chapel Hill has become an athlete factory, constantly churning out freaks of nature. They're big, they're strong and they're very fast.
The problem, though, is they're more athlete than football player.
Brown has rare 4.4 40-speed for a linebacker and explodes toward the football. He is also fluid when dropping back in coverage, which has me suspect a position switch to strong safety may better suit his skills and body type.
Lacking the ideal bulk of a linebacker, Brown often struggles to shed blockers once engaged. His football instincts are lacking as he is often frozen or caught over-thinking plays. Teams will predictably adore his first-round potential while forgetting his mid-round production.
RB/KR Chris Rainey, Florida
Speed not only kills, it makes you do regretful things like draft Darrius Heyward Bay with the seventh overall pick.
Rainey, who timed a 4.37 40-yard dash at Florida's pro day, has the wheels to make teams forget he's both undersized (5'8", 180 lbs.) and without position. Is he a running back, receiver or strictly a special teams player?
Maybe he can do it all, but at what level? High? Low? Or wading in mediocrity? There are too many questions on how or where exactly he fits into an NFL team, but the former track star's speed will attract several suitors. They'll daydream about a Darren Sproles clone, yet wake up to a poor man's Reggie Bush.
CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida
Why all the newfound hype surrounding Robinson? You guessed it, speed.
An official 4.33 40-yard dash earned him the title Fastest Man at the Combine. He was also a top performer in the vertical leap (38.5"), broad jump (11'1") and 60-yard shuttle (11.65 seconds).
The measurables scream explosiveness, but the game tape (ah, the game tape) tells a different story. He looks hesitant at times, gets overpowered in man coverage and must improve in run support.
Before his showing in Indianapolis, Robinson was a consensus fifth-round talent. He has now risen as high as the second-round.
You guessed it, speed.
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