Every year, the NFL combine serves as the ultimate test that, in many cases, determines where a player will begin his career.
The performances at this year’s combine shocked us in both good and bad ways.
What makes the combine special is that it levels the playing field for every participant. Not every player has the benefit of playing at a large program with heavy television exposure. The combine provides a platform for all players from all corners of the football universe to showcase their skills.
As the flaws and strengths of each player are pointed out in this crucial test, we learn more about them.
Here’s a look at the most important lessons we learned from this year’s combine.
Little Schools, Big Impact
Guys from small schools usually make a larger-than-expected impact at the next level because they are hungry. They don’t come with camera crews and spotlights surrounding them.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff product Terron Armstead grabbed attention with his record-setting 40-time. The 6’5”, 306-pound lineman ran a 4.65. His time beat the previous mark for an offensive lineman, 4.84, held by Allen Barbe.
Florida International product Jonathan Cyprien is considered by many to be a top safety in this year’s draft. He was one of the most impressive performers in the Senior Bowl, and he is projected by some to be a second-round pick.
Manti Te’o is Huge Risk, Huge Reward
Remember when Manti Te’o was considered to be a top-five lock? Well, a horrendous National Championship performance and soap opera-esque scandal later, Manti’s stock has plummeted faster than M.C. Hammer’s net worth.
He had a chance to keep his status within the top ten if he had an impressive showing in Indianapolis.
However, a sluggish 4.80 40-time did little to cool the flames.
However, 40-yard dash times are not always indicative of future success. Terrell Suggs ran a 4.84 and has had a very good career with the Baltimore Ravens. Vontaze Burfict ran a 4.93 and 5.1 last year and wound up leading the Bengals in tackles as a rookie.
Te’o has top-five talent. Although he won’t be drafted there, he will probably be a huge steal for a team if he slips into the 20s.
There Should Not Be a QB taken in the top five
We all know this year’s crop of quarterbacks is weak. But we didn’t know that it wasn’t going to be this bad.
Although Matt Barkley decided not to throw at the combine, he impressed scouts with his commanding presence in interviews and leadership characteristics.
Geno Smith impressed with a 4.59 40-time, but he didn’t wow with his arm. He showcased a beautiful throwing motion, but failed to show consistent ball placement. Some of his deeper passes hung in the air longer than needed, and the receivers had to slow down quite a bit to catch them.