The NFL Combine is simply a way to get 250+ guys in one place to do one massive physical. And although NFL prospects aren’t participating in the Guinness Book of World Records for one large simultaneous ‘turn your head and cough’ exam – that would be a first… yes I checked – the combine serves up a pool of numbers for scouts and coaches to use as a litmus for when draft day comes around. But do we put too much stock in those numbers?
The NFL has successfully marketed the combine week(end) with its NFL Network programming. My Twitter feed over the past two days has been nothing but talking heads and other follow’es talking about 40 times, bench presses, and comparative analyses to past combine results. Does anyone really care about Andrew Luck’s 40 vs Cam Newton’s 40? We all talk about these numbers as if they define one player over the other – your’s truly just as guilty. But do these numbers really matter or do we, as fans and other media folks, put too much stock in these numbers?
Don Banks, from SI.com, wrote this yesterda morning on Twitter:
Love how much NFL, fans, media fixate on 40 times today. We all get fluent in 40-speak, then those times never come up on game day in Nov.
And you know what? He’s right. No one EVER talks the 40 during the season. No one ever talks bench reps or high jump. What matters on the field is how you perform from snap to snap against the other athletes on the field. No gauntlet will test that. No shuttle run. There aren’t many receivers out there who get to run an unobstructed 40 during a real game.
Yet here we have talking heads drooling over guys outperforming their expectations and staying mum to when they don’t. A players own ‘stock’ can jump up should they perform within a target in each category. Would we love Glenn any would he have been .3 seconds slower in the 40? If Dont’a Hightower posts under a 30 in the vertical jump today, will we sweat through our Mike Wallace throwback jerseys? I won’t. Ben Roethlisberger posted a 4.94 in his 40 yard dash when he was a rookie entering the NFL. That would put him tied for 13th place among the QB’s coming into this year’s draft. But I can bet you that even today, he can out-scramble just about every one of those guys.
So my question to you. Do these numbers really matter? Does three to four days of combin’ing shark 3-4 years as a starting NCAA football athlete?