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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine (or, "The Combine" to the cognoscenti) has always fascinated me. Basically, it's a meat market for an educated consumer. According to SI's Peter King, who appeared today on WFAN, it's no longer the case, as it once was, say, 10 years ago, that a player could make or break his future at The Combine. That's because, in 1995, a defensive end from BC named Mike Mamula put on such a dazzling show at The Combine that he caused then-Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes to trade two first round picks in order to grab Mamula at #7 overall.

Why have you never heard of Mamula? Because he wasn't a playmaker, and because he was a tweener -- too big for DE and too slow for LB. Put differently, he wasn't very good. (It might have helped had Rhodes looked at more game film of Mamula in college where, in stark contrast to undersized LB Zach Thomas, he wasn't that much of a playmaker). Because of Mamula, teams don't put too much stock in the combine, other than to confirm their thoughts. Translated, according to King, players might move up or down a round or even a round and a half, but there won't be wholesale changes.

Click here for John Clayton's story on The Combine at I think Clayton's great at what he does, but one comment in his article doesn't make any sense. That comment -- that Penn State OT Levi Brown failed to hurdle Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas to become the #1 prospect at OT because Brown ran "only" a 5.2 in the 40-yard dash while Thomas ran a blistering 4.92. Since when have we determined who the Hall-of-Fame tackles are by how fast they run in the 40? My guess is that there are many other criteria that put Thomas in the first spot, but let's not rely too heavily on a 40-yard dash for a guy who plays a position where you're wrestling with a human tank for 5-10 seconds every 45 seconds or so. And the 40 tells us what?

Enjoy the linked article. The hot stove season for football has begun in earnest.


Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...


Before the Combine gave the workd Mike Mamula, it gave the world Jeff George. He wowed everyone about 15 years ago and was the focus of all kinds of speculation until a blockbuster trade decided where he would wind up in the NFL.

The rest is history ...

Except that he never lived up to the promise that a third-round pick would have had.

3:35 PM  

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