View Full Version : NFL Combine raises players' hopes

02-22-2007, 07:37 AM
By Scott Brown
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Born out of convenience, the NFL Scouting Combine has grown into a full-fledged event.
True, there are no tickets sold and Darrelle Revis running the 40-yard dash hardly qualifies as must-see TV. Still, what will be staged in Indianapolis is a must-attend extravaganza for invited college prospects like Revis, the former Aliquippa High School and Pitt star, and the NFL teams that will poke and prod them for almost a week.

All gather in Indianapolis under the guise of answering medical questions about the players they will be drafting at the end of April.

But the Combine, whose roots can be traced to Nolan Cromwell's whirlwind travels prior to the 1977 draft so his injured knee could be checked out, has moved far beyond providing a central location for teams to examine prospects.

All players undergo a physical and are subject to additional testing by individual team doctors, but the evaluations that will take place today through Tuesday are more than just medical ones.

The question that has been raised about the Combine, as it has evolved, is how significant a scouting tool it has become for teams.

"I always tell players that 90 percent of their evaluation is based on what they did from August through January when they played," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said. "Now, we get at the Combine and we've got to find out what kind of people they are, how healthy they are, and then, the workout is just icing on the cake."

The workout aspect of the Combine has become a central component of it, as prospects are measured against one another (and NFL standards) in areas such as speed, strength and agility.

There is, however, still considerable debate over how fast running the 40-yard dash or how many times lifting 225 pounds is telling of what kind of player a prospect will be in the NFL.

"If a good player works out good, great," said Colbert, who will be at the Combine with new Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "If a good player doesn't work out, great. It doesn't change your opinion that that guy's still a good player. If an average player works out great, then you'll make a mistake by running that player up the (draft) board based on that workout."

The specter of Mike Mamula still lurks in the RCA Dome during the week of the Combine.

Mamula improved his stock considerably after working out in 1995, and the Philadelphia Eagles took the defensive end with the seventh overall pick of the draft.

Mamula never had a double-digit sack season in the five he played in the NFL and became something of a Combine cautionary tale.

"No offense to whoever set the Combine up or started it, but at the end of the day, none of that stuff matters," Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders said of the individual workouts. "Once you get on the field, everyone's equal, and the coaches want to put the best players on the field. They're not going to say, 'Well, he ran a better 40 time, but the better athlete is the guy who didn't run the best 40 time, so we're going to put the guy who ran the best 40 time on the field.' If you're a football player, you're a football player."

The Combine does give players an opportunity to separate themselves from others.

And that is something that can't be overlooked since there will be more than 300 players at the Combine while hundreds of others will be considered by teams when they are putting together their draft boards.

Gil Brandt, a former director of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, said simply seeing prospects in person, and not just on film, is helpful.

When Aaron Smith went to the Combine as an undersized defensive end in 1999, the Steelers were able to see he had the kind of frame that would allow him to put on weight, Brandt said.

The Steelers drafted Smith in the fourth round out of Northern Colorado, and he has developed into a starter and productive player.

"It will help you make a better decision when you draft somebody," Brandt, an analyst for NFL.com, said of the Combine. "There's so many benefits to it."

That is especially true for the players.

Out of the past nine NFL drafts, Brandt said, only 15 players that didn't attend the Combine were taken in the first three rounds.

"It reinforces impressions," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of the Combine, "or it can make you question your evaluations a little bit."


By the numbers

1 - Player from West Virginia that was invited.

1 - Player from Division I-AA Elon (N.C.) College that was invited.

4 - Players from USC that were invited.

5 - Players from Division I-AA Hampton that were invited.

27 - Hours of live coverage by the NFL Network.

330 - Approximate number of players that were invited.

350 - Approximate requests for media credentials last year.

450 - Approximate requests for media credentials this year.


Western Pa. connections

A handful of players with local ties will participate in the NFL Combine, which is taking place today through Wednesday in Indianapolis:

Jay Alford, DT, Penn State

H.B. Blades, LB, Pitt

Steve Breaston, WR/KR, Michigan (Woodland Hills)

Levi Brown, OT, Penn State

Luke Getsy, QB, Akron (Steel Valley)

Adam Graessle, K, Pitt

Tony Hunt, RB, Penn State

Dan Mozes, C, West Virginia (Washington)

Tyler Palko, QB, Pitt (West Allegheny)

Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State (Hopewell)

Darrelle Revis, CB, Pitt (Aliquippa)

Tim Shaw, OLB, Penn State


TV coverage

The NFL Network will provide 27 hours of live coverage from the NFL Scouting Combine. Here is when the news conference and player workouts (by position) will be televised:


2 p.m.-- News conferences


2 p.m.-- News conferences


11 a.m.-- Workouts (kickers, offensive linemen and tight ends)

2 p.m.--News conferences


11 a.m.-- Workouts (quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs)

2 p.m.--News conferences


11 a.m.-- Workouts (linebackers and defensive linemen)

2 p.m.--News conferences


11 a.m.-- Workouts (defensive backs)

02-26-2007, 10:25 AM
Thanks for the information Lambert..

02-28-2007, 06:01 PM
Just to keep it in perspective, the teams who draft on combine numbers rarely succeed. In fact, even though he's an ass, Bill Belichick has openly admitted that he was overly infatuated with combine results when he coached Cleveland, and learned the error of his ways.