Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The T-Shirt and Shorts Bowl

Good Evening Fellow Members of the Pond. (or by the time this is posted good morning) Tonight I would just like to give some quick thoughts on the major  sporting event of the week. NBA you ask? Nope. Perhaps some NHL action? Wrong. Maybe some MLB preseason. Not a chance. No, tonight I am going to be talking about the NFL combine.

 For those not in the know,(and really where are you living at this point, Madagascar?) the combine began late last week. This is the annual event where all of the 300+ college athletes  invited try to impress the collection of NFL GMs, coaches and scouts into being worthy of a pick in April's draft. Basically it's a big dog and pony show. The thing is...99% of it is entirely useless.

As most of you know, coaches these days have access to literally thousands of hours of game film from any player they choose. That's the point of hiring and employing regional and local scouts. So, even with all of this tape available, coaches still look toward the combine as the marquee event in the pre-draft process. 20 years ago, it was nothing more than a simple step in the evaluation of a player. Now, NFL Network shows the ENTIRE combine live.

Every player coming into the combine is focused on getting the fastest 40 time or getting the most reps on the bench press. While these drills are important to show athleticism, they are poor to average indicators on how a player will do in the pros. Players could come in and have a great workout and shoot up draft boards.

The term "workout warrior" was coined to describe such a player. They flash at the combine and then do diddly shit in the pros. Mike Mamula,Taylor Mays,Vernon Gholston and Courtney Brown come to mind. Yet talent evaluators fall in love with them over and over again, and despite warning flags that may have cropped up from watching college tape, they go ahead and select them anyway.

The Draft is obviously a crapshoot, and not every GM will hit on every pick 100% of the time. It would be a lot easier if the Combine had not turned into a big spectacle, thus putting even more pressure on GMs and coaches, as fans now have access to pretty much everything a coach does. If you don't think a fanbase can swing a franchise, I'd like you to place a call to one Andy Reid.

There is some value in it though. The full battery of medical tests that come from the combine can show if a player is hurting before they are drafted, such as Utah DT Star Lotulelei. The interview process is also important, as it is the best chance for teams to talk to as many players as possible.

It is also the start of free agency. Yes I know free agency starts in March. We are already getting reports of an Alex Smith trade, even though the trading period doesn't begin till March 12. No worries though, the NFL has EXTREMELY STRICT anti-tampering rules for those situations.

All in all, teams should put a majority of their faith in the college performance of a player. Running a 4.56 instead a 4.51 should not be the difference between a star linebacker and a backup one. Hopefully, coaches will keep level heads coming out of the combine going into the draft.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and check on the official 40 time of Leon Sandcastle. Till next time Citizens. (Promise won't take too long to write the next one.)


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