NFL Draft 2011: Comparing Combine Performances of the Past vs. Present
The NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft are two very publicized and popular events surrounding the NFL that do not actually involve a game of any kind.
In reality, they both fill the void for fans who cannot wait any longer until their favorite team’s first exhibition game.
There are many skeptics of the Combine: how are success and failure measured and what do they really mean for the future of a player? There may be too much of an emphasis on Combine performance heading into the Draft.
What is most interesting is when one looks at current star NFL players and their rookie Combine performances. Many of them would hardly impress at today’s combine. For example, Tom Brady’s 40-yard dash time was barely under 5.30.
At the end of the day, when the lights go out Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, we can pick out who overperformed and who underperformed. The momentum (or lack thereof) these certain players have carries with them into the Draft, which begins April 28.
Even if all of our expectations and predictions of the 2011 NFL Draft were completely wrong, we can still look at individual performances today and compare them with individual performances in the past. This can be one of the most thrilling and entertaining results of the Combine and the Draft.
Let us compare these former college athletes to the current household NFL names.
Julio Jones Vs. Terrell Owens
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A fractured foot in need of surgery did not hinder this wide receiver's performance. He clocked in a speedy third fastest 40-yard dash time of 4.39, had a stunning broad jump of 11 feet three inches, an explosive vertical leap of 38.5 and a bench press of 17.
All of this was more impressive because of his size: 6’4’’ and 220 pounds. He also put on displays of skill and athleticism in the wide receiver and agility drills.
The first comparison he had to Owens was out of high school, when Sports Illustrated Magazine said he was "a big, physical wideout with great strength, amazing jumping ability and uncanny speed for such a big player.” He has moved up to a late first round and even top 20 pick.
Although he was drafted over 15 years ago, one can speculate how he performed in the Combine. He was rumored to have run around a 4.40 40-yard dash.
Currently, he is 6’3’’ and around 220 pounds. He is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, and at the age of 37, he shows no signs of slowing down.
Despite being a late third-round draft pick, he has become a household name in part to his outgoing public imagine.
Stephen Paea Vs. Sedrick Ellis
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The 2010 All-American and Pac 10 Defensive Player of the year wowed the scouts with a record 49 reps of the 225-pound bench press.
At 6’1’’ 303 pounds, this former rugby player is known for having exceptional strength in the middle of the defensive line, and is one of the top five ranked defensive tackle.
His impressive performance has reversed his fallen draft status, as he now looks at being a potential late first-round pick.
At 6’1’’ 307 pounds, Ellis was drafted seventh overall by the New Orleans Saints.
At the 2008 Combine, he clocked a 5.05 40-yard dash and did 36 reps in the bench press. He also has a Super Bowl ring from the 2009 season and started all 16 regular-season games.
As a former Pac-10 All Star, he definitely should be someone Paea looks toward.
Jordan Todman Vs. Jamaal Charles
The 2010 Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year was the nation’s second leading rusher.
At the Combine, he ran a 4.40, which was fourth among all running backs. In addition, his bench was sixth (25 times) and his vertical leap (38 inches) was second among running backs.
At 5’9’’ and 203 pounds, he may not be the tallest or biggest runner in the Combine, but he is an explosive and dedicated player who could possibly be a higher draft pick than many give him credit for.
Although he was only drafted in third round, he has become a standout player for the Kansas City Chiefs.
In 2010, he was selected to his first Pro Bowl after running for almost 1,500 yards.
When he performed in the 2008 Combine, he was 6’1’’ 200 pounds. He clocked a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash, yet an average broad jump.
He was listed as being an incredibly smooth and speedy running back, who has now made a name for himself in the NFL.
Blaine Gabbert Vs. Philip Rivers
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This quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight thanks to his Combine performance.
Although he won’t showcase his throwing abilities until his Pro Day, he had solid performances all across the board, especially in the 40-yard dash (4.61) and the broad jump (10’0’’). At 6’5’’ and 235 pounds, he looks like he is NFL-ready.
Despite being unfamiliar with a pro-style offense and very dependent on throwing, many think he gives Cam Newton a run for the No. 1 pick.
Physically, Rivers mirrors Gabbert. In addition, the same worries that surround him out of college are similar to those toward Gabbert.
He was the third-ranked quarterback out of 57, and was the fourth pick in the first round by the San Diego Chargers. Since then, he has been nothing but successful, including winning the 2010 MVP Award.
His Combine performance was nothing amazing, such as running a 5.03 40-yard dash and a 9’8’’ broad jump. His similarities to Gabbert are stunning, showing the potential he has to go far in the NFL.
Mark Ingram Vs. Emmitt Smith
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The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner is all about criticism and skepticism.
At 5’9’’ and 215 pounds, he is a tough running back who will most likely be a late first round pick. Although his final season at Alabama was nothing amazing, he has shown the country how skilled he is.
Unfortunately, he has to be hopeful that NFL teams will ignore his mediocre Combine performance, as he ran just 4.62 40-yard dash. He is a powerful runner who barrels through the defense.
Yes, he is an injury-prone player who is risk to whichever team drafts him, but is still exceptionally talented nonetheless.
Arguably the greatest running back of all time, he was reported to have run a 4.80 40-yard dash. Although this is not fast, many say that Smith’s ‘quickness’ was his greatest asset.
At 5’9’’, 216 pounds, he is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher who was the 17th overall pick in 1990 by the Dallas Cowboys. He was known as an amazing second-effort runner, who was able to effectively power through defenders.
Randall Cobb Vs. Hines Ward
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The SEC wide receiver has boosted his Draft stock due to a very impressive Combine performance. At 5’10’’ 191 pounds, he ran a blazing 4.45 40-yard dash, showing his uncanny speed to possibly be a slot receiver.
Although he missed a few balls thrown to him during the drills, he showed the scouts his dedication and passion to the sport.
He will be an early second round pick, and possibly helped move his stock up to late first round.
When he entered into the 1998 draft, he stood at exactly six feet and 194 pounds.
He has since has become a household name, two-time Super Bowl winner, and four time Pro Bowl selection after only being selected in the late third round. He also owns a plethora of Steelers franchise records.
He recorded a 4.47 40-yard dash and a 33-inch vertical leap. Their similarities, including the simple ones such as both being SEC wide receivers, are why they are constantly compared
Marcell Dareus Vs. Darnell Dockett
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As a nose tackle/defensive end for Alabama, he has constantly been viewed as a great and skilled playmaker. At 6’3’’ 319 pounds, he recorded 71 tackles over his career, including 20 for a loss.
He is praised for his incredible athleticism and explosiveness, and is viewed as an early first-round pick.
Throughout the Combine he has been compared with fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley, he has proven that he is at the top of his class.
His 4.94 40-yard dash is very impressive, and when coupled with his strength, he is a very promising player.
Although Dockett was not selected until the late third round, he has been a great force for the Cardinals.
He has never started in fewer than 15 games per season since joining them in 2004.
He ran an average 5.00 40-yard dash when he measured in at 6’4’’ and 297 pounds. Although Dareus is a more highly touted player entering into the Draft than Dockett was, they are incredibly similar.
Nate Solder Vs. Tony Boselli
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This talented offensive tackle stands at 6’8’’ and weighs in at 319 pounds.
He was a top performer of offensive line players in the 40-yard dash (5.05), vertical jump (32’’), and the broad jump (9’2’’).
Many think he will be a top 15 pick, and looks especially promising for NFC North teams such as the Minnesota Vikings.
He is especially talented in being a pass protector, and his athleticism and strength make him a very promising prospect.
Although he is retired, Boselli was the first-ever draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection at 6’7’’ and 288 pounds.
He played in 91 games and was inducted into the Jaguars’ Hall of Fame. His success and popularity is what Solder can only hope for.
Von Miller Vs. Clay Matthews
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This top linebacker put on quite a performance in the Combine. At 6’3’’ and 246 pounds, he recorded a very impressive 4.53-second 40-yard dash, a 10’6’’ broad jump, and a 37-inch vertical leap.
The 2010 Butkus Award winner played for all four years of college with Texas A&M, garnering many awards and recognitions.
As a 3-4 outside linebacker, he has the most potential to be able to do whatever any NFL team asks. He will undoubtedly be a top five Draft pick.
Matthews, who also won the Butkus Award when he played with the USC Trojans, posted similar numbers in his 2009 Combine performance.
At 6’3’’ and 240 pounds, he recorded a 4.62-second 40-yard dash, a 10’1’’ broad jump, and a 35-inch vertical leap.
He is also a two-time Pro Bowl selection and recently helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl victory
Dontay Moch Vs. Dwight Freeney
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Although he is only 6’1’’ and 248 pounds, he is attractive 4-3 linebacker who has potential in being an effective pass rusher.
He was also the leading performer among defensive linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.44), vertical jump (42 inches), and broad jump (10’8’’).
These impressive performances help his draft stock, as he is an incredibly deep athlete.
Yet, despite his stats, he will probably go in the second or third round.
This very recognizable Indianapolis Colts defensive end has been quite a success since his entrance into the NFL in 2002.
The comparison between Freeney and Moch may seem as a stretch, but the stats help.
At the Combine, when he was 6’1’’ and 266 pounds, he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash and jumped a 40-inch vertical jump.
Although Moch won’t be the 11th overall pick like Freeney, their similarities are promising for the speedy and talented Moch.