NFL Combine Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IFebruary 25, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24:  Defensive back Nic Harris of Oklahoma runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

The NFL Combine in Indianapolis are fun to follow for draftniks and other football geeks. But let’s not get crazy over numbers. The only numbers that really matter are the in-game football statistics, and even then they can be deceiving.

Here’s a combine report from several years ago….

“Blessed with incredible speed (clocked at 4.56 in the 40-yard dash), long limbs and superb strength, He is the prototype pass rusher that professional teams look for — big, fast, strong and explosive. An avid performer in the weight room, he boasted the best bench press on the team at 455 pounds. He also put on an impressive performance for teammates, squatting 405 pounds 20 times.”

Who is the player?

Vernon Gholston of Ohio State, who was drafted sixth overall by the Jets in 2008so much for “can’t miss” prospects. Size does matter, sometimes, but only if the player has the talent to utilize it to his advantage.

Gholston was supposed to be a year-in, year-out challenger for the NFL sack leader but has yet to translate his athleticism into kinetic form.  Denver’s Elvis Dumervil, a 4th round selection in the 2006 draft, led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009.

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Dumervil is 5″11 3/8″, 255 lbs.  His combine numbers were nowhere near as impressive as Gholston’s, yet Dumervil has amassed 43 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in his first four NFL seasons.


This is footballnot sprinting, high-jumping or weightlifting. 

Dumervil knows how to play.

Gholston does not.

Quarterbacks seem to get held to a different standard, though.

This year’s combine is devoid of many of the top-rated QBs in the upcoming draft.  I agree with Mike Holmgren on this.  These guys are only hurting themselves here.

The evaluators understand that these kids will be a bit out of their element: different receivers, pro routes etc.  If they have a shaky combine, its understandable.  If they shine, their draft stock rises.

Teams looking for QB in this draft may get cold feet and trade down rather than waste a top-5 draft choice on a kid they haven’t been able to work out.

The combine sends mixed messages and NFL GMs must learn how to decipher those messages.  Many of the good ones take the combine at face value, but they still take it in. By skipping it, players send a clear message to GMs, one that may work against them on draft day.