Ahh it’s that time of year again. Old men in their 50′s go to watch hundreds of football players do a bunch of drills in spandex shorts and evaluate them to see if they have what it takes to play in the NFL. I can’t believe that literally 6.5 million people watched this on the NFL Network last year. The NFL Combine is one of the most ridiculous aspects of drafting a player. Here are my grievances:
Don’t get me wrong, I think the position drills and finesse drills (i.e. vertical leap) are incredibly valuable in evaluating the talent of the prospect, but my main beef is how they test it. I’ve never understood why they test these players in their Under Armour undies, not in full pads like game situations. It’s just like that scene in Moneyball where Billy Beane is meeting with the scouts and one of them says: “He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks, he’s great at playing the part. He just needs to get some playing time.” The NFL is no different; it’s all vanity game. I can just picture those conversations right now between NFL scouts, “He looks so sleek in the 40, like a gazelle, you can’t teach speed”. Oye. I wanna see a drill where they run the 40 in full pads in the bitter cold of winter or in extreme heat; you know, conditions that they will actually play in. Heck open up the roof at Lucas Oil and get some weather elements into the equation. There are 32 teams in the NFL and only 25% of those teams play their home games in a dome (3 with retractable roofs). How are you measuring their true ability in a cozy, climate-controlled environment while they’re just wearing their boxer-briefs? In my opinion you can’t. You don’t see hockey combines have the players strip down to their skvies to see how built and cut they are, they’re in the full uniform with all equipment.
*However I did enjoy Tom Brady’s combine photo shirtless and wearing grey athletic shorts that look he bought at the “thrift shop down the road”. Did anyone ever think that this guy who looks like my neighborhood mechanic was going to be the next Hall of Fame quarterback?
And what about the players being able to choose what drills they want to participate in? What a bunch of crap that is! I mean it would be like me going into an exam in college and tell the professor, “You know what I’m just going to do the multiple choice portion and not the written essay because my brain isn’t firing on all creative cylinders today.” This is arguably the biggest test of their life and they can go in and choose what they want to showcase. I personally don’t care that you tweaked your thumb and therefore won’t catch passes in front of scouts. Get out there and run the drill.
Finally, the Wonderlic Test has got to go. Period. If I were a GM or scout, I would want to know how the player reacts to a change of defense at the line of scrimmage, how they read certain plays, their overall game instincts. I could care less that they know how to solve a question like “If rope was being sold for .20/yard, how much could you buy with $30?”. This is actually a sample question from the test no joke. Now, I do think it is rather hilarious and sad at the same time to see just how terrible some of these player’s college education was. This should be enlightening to these athletic administrators that these athletes aren’t really getting the education that was promised to them with their scholarship (but that’s another story). Thankfully, the NFL has instituted another psychological test called the “Player Assessment Tool” that measures how the athlete learns the best and their capacity for understanding complex schemes. But the Wonderlic is so outdated and should just be retired. It would be interesting to hear if a player’s poor Wonderlic score has caused a team to pass on them and then turn out to be a superstar. I’m sure it’s happened before, but how stupid must you feel as a team to pass up a player just because they might not have the best math skills in the world.
Now if you excuse me, NFL Network are showing Quarterbacks throwing Go-routes to receivers. You win again NFL, you win again.