Predraft workouts can make or break a player’s draft status, and a player’s stock can rise or fall in the months leading up to the big day.
For those looking to eliminate any questions and cement their status as legitimate pro talent, a good showing can really create some buzz among the media and scouts, increasing their draft stock.
For those already ensured a high draft pick based on game film, sitting out of certain workouts might be the safest option, so as not to create any doubt in the minds of scouts, should they underperform.
During predraft workouts, the field takes the place of the classroom, and the athletes are given grades based on performance. In short, players train and practice for hours as students of the game, performing in drills to show they are ready for the next level.
At USC’s Pro Day, numerous Trojans looked to solidify their draft status and show scouts they were ready to play with the big boys.
I was amazed to see up close the sheer strength and athleticism some of these athletes possess.
Despite projections as an early first-round pick, Tyron Smith, who has added 30 pounds since the season ended, went through all the drills. He ran a 4.92 40-yard dash and benchpressed 225 pounds 31 times.
It’s amazing to see someone run a sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash, pump out 38 bench-press repetitions like nothing or completely blow away the rest of the competition as if it’s no more than a video game.
But what does all this really mean?
Sure, the eye-dropping numbers are definitely something to talk about, but numbers alone certainly doesn’t tell the whole story.
Wide receiver Ronald Johnson posted a 40 time of 4.49 seconds, although he wasn’t entirely impressed with his own performance in that particular drill.
Johnson isn’t overly concerned, though.
“I don’t think [it] really matters as much,” he said. “When you’re on the field, if you’re fast and look fast on the field … I don’t think it really matters. I didn’t feel good about it, but it is what it is, and I can’t do it over.”
Yes and no.
The numbers aren’t entirely relevant, but it does matter in the sense that speed, or even strength, will be the only measuring stick for performance.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash time and was selected seventh overall in the 2009 NFL draft.
So far, his career hasn’t gone exactly how owner Al Davis must have envisioned.
Like the 40-yard dash and the benchpress are both used as a measuring stick, the Wonderlic test is used to gauge prospective NFL players and their success in the league.
Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino scored a 16 on the test (the average at this position is 24), but he will be remembered as one of the greatest to play the position.
Sure, there are examples of athletes who match their performance on the test with that on the field such as Vince Young.
Young certainly looked good against USC, running over smaller linebackers and defensive backs, but look at how his NFL career has turned out.
Yet for every Marino, there are 10 Youngs.
Some numbers scored in a couple of drills cannot determine how successful an athlete will be at the next level.
Remember: We might be enamored with the jaw-dropping athleticism, speed and strength of collegiate athletes, but the professional ranks are a whole new ballgame.
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