Why doesn't every prospect compete at the NFL combine?
It seems so simple—show up, do your best on a level playing field and that's that. Yet each year, some prospects choose not to run. Others only run and sit out other drills. Some quarterbacks choose not to throw.
The first reason, of course, is injury. Realize that some of the players in Indianapolis are there for non-athletic reasons. Meeting with teams is important, so is the physical aspect—especially for players with recent injuries. Prospects who are rehabbing aren't going to risk re-aggravating any lingering issues in front of every general manager and his staff.
Another reason is a calculated decision in what to train for and when to showcase certain attributes. A "tweener" prospect (one in-between positions like a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker) may decide to bulk up for the combine and run at his pro day or vice versa. A quarterback may want to post his official times and measurements but wait to throw in a more controlled setting.
While on the one hand, we would all like every player to compete, it's difficult to truly knock a guy for doing what he and his representation believe will give him the best chance at getting drafted.
Finally, the last hurdle standing for a player to work out at the combine is a decision—perhaps a flawed one, depending on who one asks—not to lower one's self to the level playing field in Indianapolis. If a prospect and his agent truly believe he is head and shoulders above the competition, why jeopardize that?
Of course, that can backfire, as smaller-school or less heralded prospects have the opportunity to improve their stock while the top prospects watch from the sidelines. It doesn't take much for a team to fall in love with a workout warrior, and simply sitting back and relying on past efforts may not always be the best course of action.
Remember this as top quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) and Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) sit out the throwing portion on Sunday.
Follow along each day with Bleacher Report as we keep you abreast of what's ahead and what transpires each day. Matt Miller, Mike Freeman and Matt Bowen will all be covering the event and are great follows on Twitter.
For More Preview Combine Reading
- Position-by-Position Combine Primer (Michael Schottey)
- Official Invite List (National Scouting)
- All-Time Combine Records (Jesse Reed)
- How Important is the Combine? (Greg Gabriel)
Day 3 Highlights
Michael Sam appears very comfortable in his shoes and who he is — both as a situational player and as the first openly gay player— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 22, 2014
Auburn OT Greg Robinson- 332-pound OL shouldn't move like that!! If you've actually done his tape, how do you not see top OL in this class?— Todd McShay (@McShay13) February 22, 2014
OTs Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan are arguably all better prospects than Eric Fisher, who went #1 overall in 2013 NFL Draft.— Scott Wright (@DraftCountdown) February 22, 2014
Eric Ebron told http://t.co/GHvdFP18dp that he pulled his hamstring running his FIRST 40 (still ran a 4.50 unofficial on his second).— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) February 22, 2014
4.47 for Colt Lyerla. That's moving, folks.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 22, 2014
Day 4 Schedule
Available for Interview: Group 10 (defensive backs); Group 11 (defensive backs)
Psychological Testing/Bench Press: Group 7 (defensive linemen); Group 8 (defensive linemen); Group 9 (linebackers)
On-Field Workout, Departure: Group 4 (quarterbacks, receivers); Group 5 (quarterbacks, receivers); Group 6 (running backs)
Day 4 Overview
Sunday is, in many respects, money day at the combine.
Running backs and receivers are often the workout stars—save maybe defensive pass-rushers. Because of that, it's possible that we will see the fastest 40 time, the highest and longest jumps, the quickest shuttle run and some of the best cone drills. Throw in the likelihood of a defensive tackle setting the highest mark on the bench press, and it should be a day of superlatives.
On the fast track, keep an eye on running backs Dri Archer (Kent State), Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) and De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon). Those three have a chance to be the fastest player in this year's class and could find themselves toward the top of an underwhelming running back class if they run in the 4.2-4.3 range.
Wide receivers Mike Evans (Texas A&M) and Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) have both stunned with their size, but their workout times could break the tie between these two future No. 1 receivers just as much as their tape. In college, Evans was clearly the better wideout, but the story on Benjamin has always been upside.
If the upside of Benjamin is quantified by huge workout numbers, teams might value him more. If Evans can keep the times close or exceed Benjamin's athleticism, he could vault himself closer to wideout Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and leave Benjamin in his proverbial dust.
Of course, the quarterbacks are going to tantalize as well. Even though some are sitting out the throwing portion, this could help some teams set their boards between second- and third-tier prospects like Derek Carr (Fresno State), AJ McCarron (Alabama) and Jimmy Garoppolo (E. Illinois). If none of those quarterbacks manage to make an impression on the field or in the interview rooms, someone like Zach Mettenberger (LSU) could slip in.
With only a few hours of combine coverage left, make sure you stay tuned to Bleacher Report for the best in NFL draft coverage.