Meat Market: Why the NFL Combine Is Nearly Useless
Ok, so I know that using the term "meat market" to describe the NFL Combine is beyond cliche at this point.
However, I do feel that the Combine is over-valued by scouts and fans alike.
Let's take a look at NFL Combine record holders. The source for these stats is NFLDraftScout.com, and they only have stats going back to 1999, so this is far from a comprehensive list.
As I understand, Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson both ran ridiculously fast 40 times. Duly noted.
The NFL unfortunately doesn't keep official records of Combine results, so this is the best I can get my hands on.
Still, this list should help illustrate my point.
Following are the top ten performers since 1999 for the major drills run at the NFL combine.
4.24 - Rondel Melendez, (WR), Eastern Kentucky - 1999
4.24 - Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina - 2008
4.28 - Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton - 2005
4.28 - Champ Bailey, (CB), Georgia - 1999
4.29 - Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston - 2005
4.29 - Jay Hinton, (RB), Morgan State - 1999
4.29 - Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska - 2005
4.30 - Yamon Figurs (WR), Kansas State - 2007
4.30 - Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State - 2005
4.31 - Johnathan Joseph, (CB), South Carolina - 2006
The 40 time is considered crucial for NFL athletes, yet out of these record holders, how many have you heard of? Chris Johnson is a good back, but are we ready to say he's the best in the NFL? The only bona-fide star on the list is Champ Bailey.
51 - Justin Ernest, (DT), Eastern Kentucky - 1999
45 - Mike Kudla, (DE), Ohio State - 2006
45 - Leif Larsen, (DT), Texas-El Paso - 2000
44 - Brodrick Bunkley, (DT), Florida State - 2006
43 - Scott Young, (OG), BYU - 2005
42 - Tank Tyler (DT), North Carolina State - 2007
42 - Isaac Sopoaga, (DT), Hawaii - 2004
41 - Terna Nande, (OLB), Miami (OHIO) - 2006
41 - Igor Olshansky, (DT), Oregon - 2004
40 - Zach Piller, (OT), Florida - 1999
The only player I've heard of is Mike Kudla, and that's because he got cut by the Steelers. I thought that Justin Ernest's impressive record would have earned him an NFL career as a DT, but a Google search doesn't show anything past his Eastern Kentucky days.
Apparently he went undrafted.
46 - Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina - 2005
45 1/2 - Derek Wake, (OLB), Penn State - 2005
45 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005
45 - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001
43 1/2 - Dustin Fox, (FS), Ohio State - 2005
43 1/2 - Jay Hinton, (RB), Morgan State - 1999
43 1/2 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
43 1/2 - Jerry Azumah, (RB), New Hampshire - 1999
43 - Scott Starks, (CB), Wisconsin - 2005
43 - Cedric James, (WR), TCU - 2001
Uh huh. So, out of this drill, considered so important for d-backs and wide receivers, the only big name in the top 10 is Chris Chambers?
3.73 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
3.76 - Deion Branch, (WR), Louisville - 2002
3.78 - Dunta Robinson, (CB), South Carolina - 2004
3.79 - Champ Bailey, (CB), Georgia - 1999
3.82 - Dante' Hall, (RB), Texas A&M - 2000
3.83 - Jason Allen, (FS), Tennessee - 2006
3.83 - Kevin Bentley, (OLB), NorthWestern - 2002
3.83 - Terence Newman, (CB), Kansas State - 2003
3.84 - Justin Beriault, (FS), Ball State - 2005
3.84 - Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn - 2005
Champ Bailey makes another appearance on this list. Terence Newman is a standout name as well.
I just want to give some props to Justin Beriault. A knee injury ended his career in the preseason of his rookie year, but he's a fellow Ball State Cardinal, so I'm glad to see him on the list.
Remember when Deion Branch was a Super Bowl MVP? He really hasn't done much without Tom Brady throwing the ball to him...maybe he should run the 20 again to bring him back to the glory days.
6.45 - Sedrick Curry, (CB), Texas A&M - 2000
6.48 - Rogers Beckett, (FS), Marshall - 2000
6.49 - Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn - 2005
6.50 - Leon Hall (CB), Michigan - 2007
6.51 - Jon McGraw, (SS), Kansas State - 2002
6.54 - Anthony Gonzalez (WR), Ohio State - 2007
6.56 - Ben Taylor, (ILB), Virginia Tech - 2002
6.56 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
6.60 - Trent Gamble, (FS), Wyoming - 2000
6.60 - Marcus Griffin (SS), Texas - 2007
Anthony Gonzalez is a pretty solid player. The rest of this list, not as much.
So, there we have it. Five drills, 50 records, little overlap of record holders. What do we have to show for it in solid NFL results? Champ Bailey, Anthony Gonzalez, Chris Chambers, Terence Newman, Chris Johnson, and—for the sake of argument—Deion Branch.
Does draft stock really rise and fall over this?
Can we get over the NFL Combine now?
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