The NFL combine is an exciting way for fans, scouts and coaches to get to know some college players a bit better. The drills performed by the players are some great indicators of raw physical talent, but how much do they really matter? This may be an impossible question to answer, but there are few examples of the top talent in any drill finding much NFL success.
- Bench Press: The top 5 all time in bench press are Stephen Paea DT, Mitch Petrus OL, Jeff Owens DT, Dontari Poe DT and Tank Tyler DL. Not exactly a list of all-pro talent there aside from Poe, who is an elite talent for the Kansas City Chiefs. It is more likely that a lack of strength would be a red flag for a team here rather than being swayed by a monster performance.
- 40 Yard Dash: This is sort of the glamour event for skill position
Chris Johnson set a record in the 40 yard dash in 2008.
players at the combine, but this is another one that may be more superficial. The top 5 all time are Chris Johnson RB, Marquise Goodwin WR, Jacoby Ford WR, DeMarcus Van Dyke WR and Darrius Heyward-Bey WR. Chris Johnson has been very successful and both Goodwin and Ford show a lot of potential. With that being said, some elite names like Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald ran disappointing 40 yard dashes and I think that most people would agree they fared well in the NFL.
- Vertical Jump: An impressive vertical for receivers or players in the secondary is a big plus so the top 5 must be a who's who of talent eh? Well the names are: Donald Washington CB, A. J. Jefferson CB, Dorin Dickerson TE, Kashif Moore WR and Eric Berry SS. Eric Berry is in the top tier of NFL players and like Poe he plays for the Chiefs. It seems like Kansas City has some scouts who can tell when a combine performance will translate to on field success. Other than Berry there is not much to see here, just another list of workout warriors.
- Broad Jump: This is not an event that gets a great deal of attention, but I found it interesting when I saw the names on the list. The top 5 are Jamie Collins OLB, Jerome Simpson WR, Justin Hunter WR, Julio Jones WR and Donald Washington CB. Obviously Julio Jones is an amazing wideout, but also think Jerome Simpson could be a nice player with a real quarterback and Justin Hunter is one of my top picks for a breakout performance in 2014. Maybe broad jump has some implications when it comes to NFL success after all.
When it comes right down to it, the combine is just another tool for scouts and should be treated as such. Moving players drastically up or down based on their combine and not their overall body of work is a serious risk. The other takeaway from this is that the Raiders will draft ANYONE with top speed whether or not they are good at football, the Chiefs and other more successful franchises can see the true gems among top combine participants.