RICHMOND- It’s that time of year again for owners and general managers in the NFL.
The Scouting Combine in Indianapolis allows team members to get a glimpse of the best college prospects and how they perform in workouts and other position drills.
Every year, one player performs so admirable that he shoots up the draft boards and vice versa. But does that performance really prove that the player is going to be successful?
The right player can change a franchise’s fortunes. The NFL Draft has evolved from the 60’s where players usually didn’t train for the draft, it has become more modernized in an attempt for teams to find good players.
The physical and mental tests that the league has developed over the years evolve with each group of players and the aptitude tests have gotten more attention in an attempt to gauge intelligence.
Players like QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who ace the quiz portion, didn’t always see their talents translate to the game. Players like DE Mike Mamula, blew up the combine with the physical portion, didn’t translate to gameday success as their bodies could not handle the proper physicality.
The biggest fail of the combine in recent memory? Ask Green Bay Packers fans about that offensive lineman. Yup, its Tony Mandarich.
A perfect body for a lineman, great scores in physical drills. But no agility on tape and instead, he looked bigger than expected. Sure enough, Mandarich went #2 overall and was abused from the beginning.
Steroid issues, combined with not having the proper techniques and Sports Illustrated blowing him up, left Mandarich in the dust and ultiamtely brought him to the point of being a huge bust.
The Packers could have had Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, or Derrick Thomas. Instead they chose science and technology hype through drills.
Ultimately they paid the price and it left a lasting reminder to general managers today about falling in love with technology instead of what is seen on tape against competition.
Coaches nowadays are being more careful and doing thorough research on all players, particularly quarterback because the investment made in one is lot more expensive than what you invest in another player.
This group’s QB crop has a lot to pick from and potentially, a consensus #1 overall pick, heightens the need for having the belief that the pick will be the right pick.
The 1998 Draft between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf was seen at the time as so close and so unpredictable. Yet now, we all know what everyone else knew. Manning was the safe pick and a Hall of Famer while Leaf………was a bust waiting to happen.
Must we forget Jamarcus Russell in 2007. Al Davis gave into the physical specimen when it wasn’t a safe pick. A portion of the media and fans already knew it wouldn’t work with Davis.
In the end, the Raiders passed on stars like Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, and Adrian Peterson. All because of drill scores and emotional sights of a potential franchise player that eventually set the franchise back for years.
Also noted by many, If scouts were so sure figuring out how quarterbacks are supposed to be selected, how come these so called “experts” let Tom Brady slip to the 6th round?
Brady went in the 6th round while six quarterbacks were taken ahead of him. Only one (Chris Redman, Ravens) has earned a championship ring while Tom has won 6.
The pick that stunned everyone in that draft was is that a quarterback who completed less than 50% of his passes in Spergon Wynn was taken ahead of Tom Brady by Cleveland Browns because of his physical makeup which consisted of a strong arm and high athletic ability.
Needles to say, Wynn deteriorated and never achieved any NFL prosperity unlike the man taken after him in Tom Brady.
A recent prospect in WR John Ross provided us all with the much needed information that speed alone doesn’t win in the NFL. Ross ran 4.22 40-yard dash, yet his skill set has not translated and hence he remains a bust.
The ultimate tipping point? The mental makeup and off the field issues. You can’t measure that or test for it, you have social media now to help figure that out.
Ask Johnny Manziel how things are. Immaturity at the combine and even during the pro-day, combined with bad work habits left the talented superstar out of the league and ultimately out of football.
The late Lawrence Phillips blew up the combine and the field with his stellar play, but his violence issues combined with drug abuse kept him off the field and sadly, he wound up dead in prison. A colossal waste of an investment and talent.
So if a general manager chooses to read this and ignore, don’t take my word for it. Just look at history. It does have a tendency to repeat itself. For better…..or for worse.