Why the Combine Matters, Doesn’t

The NFL Scouting Combine is an important device for teams, but it isn’t the most important. It’s fun to watch, and for most fans, it’s the first time they’ll get a good look at half of these players. Who is Zane Beadle? You’ll find out! We like the Combine because we like Sport. We like underdogs. We like to see fat dudes run a 40-yard dash twice as fast as we could ever dream to. It’s fun.

But it’s not without it’s flaws. A lot of people give the Combine no credit, say its worthless. That’s not true. The interviews, physicals, mental evaluations, etc are invaluable to teams; the workouts help differentiate between groups of guys who were clustered together. You know, whatever, we’ve all heard this stuff before… but the problem with the Combine is that excellent players can get scrutinized for minor shortcomings or just a poor outing.

Yesterday, Gerald McCoy bench pressed 225 lbs 23 times in rapid succession. Wow! Wait, what, that’s bad? Oh, yeah, that’s bad. They wanted him to hit 30 or something. That’s fair, though; you expect an elite DT prospect to be strong. McCoy is strong. McCoy has been a dominant force for years, arguably the best player (or tied for it) in the draft. His “field strength” does not falter, so, is it really a big deal if he benches poorly? Evidently, it is, because people have been complaining about it ever since.

This morning, Florida CB Joe Haden ran the 40-yard dash. He was slower than molasses by CB standards — 4.57. That is actually very bad, especially for someone like Haden who was projected to run in the mid 4.3s… Still, what does it mean? His game tape does not show him losing battles. He’s the only shutdown corner in the draft this year, and could immediately make a team’s defense look a lot better. Think of how Revis and Asomugha mask the deficiencies of their defenses. Haden isn’t at their level at this point, but he is very, very good with an elite skill set. He should still be a top ten pick (if not, we’ll take him at 14!), but watch his 40. He just has poor form. It’s not about speed, it’s about technique. Should he lost 5 million guaranteed because he’s not a track star?