Welcome back to another evening of Niners Nation After Dark, where we celebrate the 2011 NFL Combine 24/7. If you're up this late and get the NFL Network channel, you can watch a replay of some of today's Combine coverage. Even more awesome is that you can go to nfl.com and rewatch ALL the combine coverage of the last three days. They'll have a live camera later today for cornerback drills, but for now you can go back and watch all the drills. If you wanna see monstrous offensive linemen running the 40-yard dash, head on over. If you want to see Stephen Paea break the bench press record, you can watch it there. Talk about an easy way to procrastinate the hours away!
The 2011 NFL Combine wraps up today with cornerbacks running their drills. Every year at the Combine we hear about how Player X is shooting up draft charts because of a strong workout. They ran a great 40, looked awesome in positional drills, and put together a great time in the 3-cone drill. We also hear about Player Y killing his draft stock because he looked a bit stiff in the hips during his positional drill or was slower than expected in the 40-yard dash.
People complain about the NFL Combine and the information gleaned from the various drills. I do agree that we shouldn't put all our eggs in the Combine basket. After all, a guy like Vernon Gholston was a monster in workouts but has yet to make a significant impact in the NFL. At the same time, plenty of players have been overlooked at the Combine, only to end up making a huge impact in the NFL.
While we shouldn't get completely sucked in to the Combine, it's foolish to not factor in performance in these drills to at least some extent. The most basic reason for this is how prepared individuals are for the Combine. The NFL Combine is more or less the equivalent of a job interview. If a person does not appear to have prepared for the job interview, it shows they either don't care about the job, are lazy, or some combination of those. NFL teams want players that are passionate about football and willing to bust their butt to show their the best. If a player isn't willing to fully prepare for the NFL Combine and thus put together a great performance, how can they be expected to prepare themselves week in and week out in the NFL?
A second reason for placing value in the NFL Combine is that it's one more box to check in analyzing a player. A player can't show all their skills in positional drills at the Combine. However, a scout can get some kind of handle on characteristics like how stiff a player is in the hips. If a player struggles with his agility and movement in shorts and shirt, there would have to be some concern about his ability to improve in full pads and taking on world class talent.
And of course, finally if two players are even on a draft board after film breakdown, a faster 40 time or better work in the positional drills makes for a handy tiebreaker. Combine results shouldn't be the be-all, end-all, but that doesn't mean their value should be downgraded completely.