Gentlemen we are not in Kansas anymore. It is that crazy time of year where NFL prospects start rising and falling in mock drafts for no reason. A 350lb man runs a sub 4.75 40 time and he skyrockets up the mock draft board. Pundits start fawning him as the next Nata or Sapp. A 235lb LB bench presses 225 50 times and becomes a sure fire lock. Some RB from Div 3 runs a 4.25 40 and is named the next Chris Johnson. It makes no sense and it just gives us that feeling of where are we, how did this happen, and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txqiwrbYGrs " >is this real life</a>?
Well have no fear the Great Oz is here, and I will attempt to guide you through what I think it all means.... Well more importantly what I believe to be the most relative event for each position. So grab your retarded, souless, and wussy friends and skip down the NFL off season road to sanity with me.
All kidding aside I am going to be looking strictly at the "Workout Events". Meaning I will not be taking into consideration the actual football skill drills. Also I am going to try and pick a different drill for each position on each side of the ball. Just so we are all clear here are the workout events:
3.) Vertical leap
4.) Broad Jump (Speaking of this, I bet Antonio Cromartie dominated the event.....)
5.) 3 cone drill
6.) Shuttle run
One final disclaimer, just because a player does well in the event I pick does not mean they are going to be good. Film study is the only true way to understand what a player can and cannot do. But if a player has the film to back up a performance in the event I chose....well then that is a guy to watch.
Lets start with Offense
Most relative event: None. Seriously nothing they can do in the track events is really relative. To me a QB is still all about the decision making during game situations. And the only way to evaluate that is to watch his college game tape. But I suppose if I had to pick something it would be standing on the scale and holding still for the tap measure. Height, weight, arm length, and hand size are probably the most relative when it comes to the shenanigans of the combine. I'm still one of those guys that thinks a QB's chances of succeeding in this league are greatly increased if they are over 6'1". Coupled with a heavy enough frame to take the beatings of every week.
Most relative event: 40 yd dash. You can go a lot of directions here depending on what kind of WR you are looking for. Some might say vertical leap or the 3 cone drill (chronicled by Mike Kaye), but for me it is the 40 and here is why. The WR is the only man on the field who on most plays has the opportunity to run 40 yds in a straight line. So to me it is obvious that this should be looked at the most. The 10yd split of the 40 will tell you the players explosive burst, the overall 40 time will let you know about the players break away ability. Like I said you can go a lot of directions here but this is the one for me.
Most relative event: Shuttle Run. To me this is a no brainer. You start in the 3 point stance, which as a TE you will on most plays, and it measures your explosion and lateral agility. As a TE you will be sealing the edge on running plays or working in tight spaces on pass plays, at least most of the times. This drill is a good representation of that environment.
Most relative event: Broad Jump. Yea, yea, I know you are all laughing right now, but as I said above I am going to try and pick different events for each position. The obvious choice would be shuttle, but I feel it will tell you more about the TE position as a whole than the Tackle. So why broad jump, well because it is all about lower body explosion. It is about moving your weight as fast and as far as you can in one explosive moment. That is what an OT needs to do. On the go explode out and attack the edge rusher. Now on pass pro you wont be going at the end but you will need a strong lower body to take on his rush and set your anchor. To me broad jump is a good weight to strength indicator of the lower body.
OG's & C's
Most relative event: Bench Press. To me an guard in the NFL has to operate in a much smaller space and is involved in a lot more compact hand battles than OT's. As a result I think a stronger upper body is required due to not having as much space to use your legs. 330lb man who throws around 225 like a toothpick is what you are looking for. A guy who can look up out of his stance and shock the NT, DT, or LB trying to run by him with one good punch....kinda like what Chance Warmack did to Te'O all game.
Most relative event: 3 cone drill. As RB your agility and acceleration is far more important than top end speed. On most plays you will need to find your way through the trees and to daylight. It is a lot of wait wait wait....EXPLODE through the opening. Then once through find a way to get past the safeties. You rarely get into the open field with a straight shot to the endzone and only a DB at the other hash trying taking an angle to catch you. Top end speed is overrated for a RB in the NFL. Quick burst and agility is what is needed to bust off 6 or 7 yd runs consistently and the occasional 20 to 30.
Most relative event: Bench Press. Pretty much for all the reasons listed for an OG. Now granted this could vary for a NT vs UT but the upper body strength to throw Olineman out of the way, take on double teams, and misdirect blockers is still at the core of every disruptive and effective DT. Another drills could be the broad jump. A DT needs to have a stout lower body and being able to move 330lbs from a standing position is a good measure of that.
DE's (edit: rush OLB)
Most relative event: Vertical leap. Why might you ask? Well because to me DE's are turning more and more into pure athletes and to me one of the best ways to tell how much of an athlete someone is, especially a guy weighing over 260lbs, is to see what kind of ups they got. Vertical leap is all about you explosion and fast twitch muscles. Having a big vertical leap to equates to a guy who is quick and can move. Once again this could change depending on what you need out of your DE on defense. Other drills could be 3 cone or broad jump
Most relative event: None. For a couple of reasons, so many different types of ILB's and roles for starters. But he biggest is nothing at the combine will measure the ILB's vision and instincts. If a LB has those he can overcome a lot. But if I was forced to choose I would have to repeat the bench press. Behind those two listed above is the ability to take on a shed blocks, this means being able to keep O lineman off your body. That is simply a measure of upper body strength.
Most relative event: 3 cone drill and 40 yd dash. What!?!?! you cant pick two!. Well guess what it is my fanpost and I just did. CB's need to have loose hips, acceleration and good top end speed. The 3 cone (as chronicled by Mike Kaye) shows those first two things. A CB needs to be able to run backwards and turn his hips fluidly. The top end speed is needed for when a WR gets past you in your hip turn. Which is going to happen a lot because you are running backward and he is not. So both these events are key for CB's.
Most relative event: None. Safeties are in the same boat as LB's. It is a position mostly about vision and instincts. Having those two things will make up for a lot of other shortcomings. The role of safety is evolving in the NFL. They are being asked to do a lot more. Very soon they will be the best athletes on the field. But if a gun was held to me head I would chose the 40yd dash. Your instincts wont always be right and the ability to have recovery speed is a need when you are the last line of defense.
The combine is great because we have something football related to watch until the draft and it signifies the coming FA explosion. But at the end of the day it really is pretty much over hyped. To me it is more important for Offensive players and not really effective for defensive ones. Offense you have the benefit of knowing what ply is coming and where to go. defense is all about instincts and reactions. The combine has no real way to measure those two things. Film study is really the only way to tell. I hope you all enjoyed this and feel free to rain on my parade in the comment section. (also the preview function is not working so here goes)