By Michael H. Osinski
Why is it that we watch the Combine? Football withdrawals? There really can’t be very many reasons to watch a bunch of football players run and jump without even wearing pads. There is no hitting. Hardly any real passing. No hand offs. Never mind for right now the reasons. My step-son and I sat mesmerized while 300-pound men ran further than they will ever have to in a game situation (40 yards). It’s like the Sumo Olympics.
Kidding aside, we watch the Combine for the same reason the “Paid” Executives do…we are looking for stuff we didn’t know. For example, when Jadeveon Clowney runs 4.47 in his 40, we have what we thought we had. (Somewhere in my head I hear Dennis Green ranting “They are who we thought they were!”) If I am Houston, I am taking him with the #1 (Sorry Johnny).
We saw Michael Sam wow people during his interview, but he ran over 4.9 in the 40 and only did 17 bench presses. He doesn’t have Clowney’s reach, so his value as an edge rusher just dumped him from the third round to the fourth. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t run. He didn’t throw. Why did he go? Johnny Manziel ran (well) but didn’t throw. Blake Bortles ran and threw…and did both well enough to confirm for us “Yes, he is a project.”
At the end of the day, the Combine is an activity that allows us to either confirm or deny what we saw of players on film. So…what we learned:
Manziel IS fast enough. We are sure he will perform well enough to show people his arm is sound. He won’t grow between now and then, so whoever drafts him assumes the injury risk. He and Michael Vick (and me) are all about the same size.
Clowney is faster than any QB he will chase. Position him opposite JJ Watt and you have the best D-Line in the NFL (Yes Niners fans).
Bortles really does have potential. He physically resembles Ben Roethlesberger, but runs better. Question: do you take that kind of guy in the top 5 of the draft? Maybe Oakland plays Terrelle Pryor and lets Blake school until he is ready?
What is Bridgewater scared of? On film, he threw better looking passes than any of the other guys, but didn’t throw or run at Combine. He had small hands (Bad weather teams won’t draft him for fear of fumbles). He would’ve been better served putting on more weight so teams would quit thinking he will break like a twig.
I was kinda rooting for Sam because of the statement he made coming out. But he did not show what we saw on film. He was slow and weak. I am rooting for him, but he cost himself one, maybe two rounds in the draft. He will still get drafted, but may only be a situational rush option.
Another player who changed perception was Mike Evans. He is young, fast, aced the WR drills and solidified himself as the #2 WR behind only Sammy Watkins. Definite 1st round pick. Yes, I am talking to the Jets.
Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack were even better than we thought they were. They may not last past pick 10.
At the end of the day, all I am doing with my Combine impressions is either confirm or deny that the player is who I thought they were. It helps me limit the Pro Days I follow. For instance, I don’t need to follow Clowney, Mack, Barr, Evans or Watkins Pro Days. I am interested in Bridgewater’s. Interested in Bortles. For those interested, I intend to have a Mock Draft to post March 1, April 1 and May 1.
I can be reached on twitter at Follow @mhosinskiLLP