The NFL combine is a fickle beast. More than 300 players will report to the combine and be worked out under the same circumstances, and we will talk for months about how their stocks rose or fell accordingly.
Everybody knows it's a spectacle, everybody knows that its results get overblown and every year, a workout warrior busts and a player that posts bad measurables ends up being hugely successful.
The problem is, everybody knows it, but nobody thinks it will happen to them. The combine gives scouts concrete figures to work with. It's impossible to quantify how a Mountain West pass-rusher will stack up against NFL competition based solely on their play, but everybody knows what a 4.4 40-yard dash time means for a skill position player.
It means they're fast. And fast is good. NFL teams like fast. Sometimes too much, in fact.
The best way to approach the NFL draft is with critical interest. There is good information to be found in it, but if the fastest player at the combine was not especially effective on the field, it's worth considering why. It's not always just scheme and coaching.
Where the Detroit Lions will be especially interested at the combine is conducting interviews. After disastrous personality results in the 2011 draft (four arrests and a mutiny in three picks), and with many of the Lions' locker-room leaders aging or being cut, the Lions may put a premium on character in this year's combine.
Of course, that doesn't mean they won't be looking for talent. It just means they may not privilege talent over glaring personality flaws this time.
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