It never fails. Each and every year, NFL teams fall in love with a player at the annual Scouting Combine and sometimes this player turns out to actually not be that good at football and just really good at working out.
Players like Tony Mandarich, Matt Jones, Troy Williamson, and Mike Mamula were all drafted higher than they should have been, thanks to their performances at past Combines. Unsurprisingly, none of them went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The problem with the Scouting Combine is that too much emphasis is placed on drills that usually don’t translate to the football field.
A receiver can run the fastest 40-yard dash time ever, but it doesn’t really matter if he can’t catch or run a simple out route. An offensive lineman can set the record for most reps in the bench press, but his strength won’t make a difference when his feet are too slow to keep up with an opposing pass-rusher.
The 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill and shuttle run. The same dumb drills have been used for years now and teams continue to overrate prospects based on their performance at the Combine. How about some drills that actually incorporate real, game-like situations to better predict a player’s chance at success in the league?
Have the wide receivers, quarterbacks, corners, and safeties all work out on the same day. Instead of the receivers running routes uncovered, have a corner or a safety match up with them.
A drill like this would also help in evaluating the quarterback prospects as well, since they would have to take the defensive back into account as well when throwing to the receiver. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how scouts evaluate young quarterbacks at the Combine when they are just throwing to wide-open pass-catchers.
In addition to this coverage drill, have the running backs and linebackers work out on the same day, and have the defensive and offensive linemen work out on the same day as well. Allow prospects to actually be able to show their abilities against prospects on the other side of the ball.
It’s something that they will have to do in the NFL anyway.
Oh, and how about we put some pads on these prospects? It’s really great that a player can fly down the field in basically his underwear, but that is never going to happen in a game.
Put a helmet and some shoulder pads on these guys and then see how well they can do the drills at the Combine. Otherwise, the Combine is really just a glorified track and field event.
Perhaps there wouldn’t be as many draft busts if the Scouting Combine actually incorporated some of these ideas. But then again, the Browns are always going to find away to mess up their selections no matter how many they have.