Wednesday afternoon, dozens of NFL scouts were on campus to watch former Trojans work out in an effort to raise their positions in April’s draft. It’s really the last chance for these athletes to make an impression on the scouts and millions of dollars are at stake. However, I don’t buy it.
Though it’s important for teams to know a player’s measurables, such as their height, weight and speed, scouts are looking too deep into the numbers. If a player can play, he can play and no number quantifies a player’s heart and desire to be the best.
Sure, a player can skyrocket in the draft if he runs particularly well or if his bench press is extraordinary, but not every star has had great measurables. Jerry Rice, arguably the best receiver in history, ran a less-than-stellar 40-time at around 4.70. Anquan Boldin, who has been among the league’s most consistent receivers since he entered the League in 2001, ran a 4.75, slower than many defensive ends. They turned out OK, didn’t they?
But perhaps you are a firm believer in numbers and believe that no matter how good your mental attributes are, you still need to have strong physical ones to complement.
Well, why does the NFL hold an entire combine and insist on schools holding pro days as well? If the point of the combine is to measure the measurables, what is the point of a pro day? Especially when the pro day is just two weeks after the combine.
People train months for the combine (which really doesn’t have that much to do with football, anyway). Is a player going to be that much better in a workout two weeks later? And if he does perform better, wouldn’t you be skeptical, especially if the results were significantly better than they were before?
But more importantly: Does one become a better football player in that short time frame between the combine and the pro day? Many players decide not to workout in positional drills while at the combine, saying that they want to work with players they are familiar with on their home turf.
But at the next level, quarterbacks aren’t going to have the luxury of throwing to “their guys” on “their field.” Their rosters will constantly change, players will get released and they will be throwing to different players frequently.
Linemen, you are not going to have the same coaches you had in college telling you what drills to run. There will be no scripting — it will be about learning on the fly.
Robert Griffin III for instance, the star quarterback from Baylor University, decided not to throw at the combine because he wanted to be with his receivers.
What are we possibly going to learn about him when he throws to receivers he has been throwing to in practice for nearly five years in a set of drills that have been specifically designed for him to look good?
What did scouts likely learn about star USC tackle Matt Kalil at pro day? He probably looked athletic and ran good times considering his size. But did anyone really learn about him as a football player? I doubt it.
The combine does not measure a prospect as a football player. For the most part it measures athleticism, which is important, but it is by no means the end all, be all.
For me, pro day is overkill. It’s scripted. It’s performed by the coaches of the player’s alma mater. It is done in almost too comfortable of an environment. And it happens right after the combine; does the player in question really become a better NFL prospect in 13 days? If scouts think so, maybe they should take another look.
A great athlete is an asset for an NFL team and will always be envied, but I will take a great football player over a great athlete any day. If the player happens to be both? Well, I guess you hit the jackpot.
I will always take a player’s tape more seriously than a 40-yard dash time. I will always take a player’s heart more seriously than his vertical jump.
Football is not won with numbers, as everyone in the NFL is talented; it is won with what players possess mentally, emotionally and in their hearts. Nothing at a combine or a pro day can quantify that.
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