It is extremely easy to get excited over a player’s numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine. If a guy runs a fast 40-yard dash or bench presses a lot, it’s hard not to be impressed.
But, as we’ve seen with players in the past, it’s not so much how they perform when they’re in shorts and a T-shirt as much as how they perform on the field.
Every team wants a strong guy with blazing speed, but there’s a difference between being a good football player and a gym rat.
There are many players in this year’s class that, while talented, will likely be drafted higher than they should be due to a good performance at the combine.
It is important that NFL teams remain cautious when selecting players because you never know who will be the next Tony Mandarich.
After all, these numbers aren’t everything.
In fact, Jerry Rice only ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, yet he’s largely considered to be the best receiver ever.
Teams are easily fooled by a guy who runs fast or who benches a lot of weight, and have suffered for it in the past.
Especially in this year’s class, teams will have to keep an even eye when observing these guys during their workouts.
Here are three potential workout warrior frauds from this year’s class.
Denard Robinson, WR/KR
The former Michigan standout is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft.
As a former quarterback, Denard Robinson put together a decent passing career, but really shined when he was a runner in open space.
While Robinson certainly has talent, it is not easy for a player to shift positions so drastically from college to the NFL. Robinson is expected to be drafted in the later rounds but could rise up draft boards with a good combine.
He will undoubtedly run very fast in the 40-yard dash and that may prompt the new-era Al Davises of the world to draft him in the earlier rounds.
There will always be a coach that thinks he can take almost any player and coach him up into a prime-time talent, but it’s so rare that those situations actually work out.
While there is no denying Robinson has potential, he is not worth being drafted above the fifth round.
Mike Glennon, QB
With as many quarterback-needy teams in the NFL as there are, Glennon will have a good opportunity to be drafted in the first two rounds.
At 6’5” and 230 pounds he looks like the prototypical pocket passer. He has a big arm to go along with his big body and is very accurate on the short to intermediate throws.
Glennon will throw the ball all over the field at the combine and will impress scouts with his arm strength and ability to put the ball where it needs to be.
Despite a good arm, he does struggle when he feels pressure in the pocket. He performs rather well when he has perfect protection, but it will be rare for him to have that type of pocket in the NFL.
What worries some is that he may get David Carr-syndrome: being put into the starting spot too early and hearing footsteps for the rest of his career.
Another knock on Glennon is his ability to read defenses. At the combine he will not be faced with a pass rush nor defenders trying to knock down his passes.
In a stripped down version of a passing drill, Glennon will do well. But when faced with defenders in his face and defensive backs eying him down, he will struggle to be as smooth and effective.
While he could certainly develop into a good NFL quarterback, he will likely hear his name called sooner than later in the draft by a team expecting him to come in and compete right away.
Glennon could very well be a huge standout at the draft if he shows off his arm as expected, which could provide a false sense of security for the team that drafts him.
Glennon’s NFL career could be ruined early if he is thrown into the lion’s den when he is just not ready yet.
Barkevious Mingo, DE/LB
Barkevious Mingo may be a surprise to some on this list as he is already a sure first-round pick, but there are certainly causes for concern.
While Mingo has tremendous size and great speed for a guy with his build, he has had troubles in the past with bigger offensive lineman.
At 6’5” and 240 pounds, Mingo is a longer defensive end with a good motor. While he has extremely impressive speed off the edge, he struggles with bull rushing opposing blockers.
He will surely impress in the 40-yard dash, and will also do well in the long jump and vertical jump. If he does shine at the combine, he may become a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, although he probably shouldn’t be.
Aside from being eaten up by big blockers at times, his production fell from his sophomore season to his junior season. He is the definition of a boom or bust prospect.
To a lot of people, Mingo is one of the best players in this year’s class, but teams definitely need to be careful with him.