The NFL combine has never really interested me much. A lot of stock is placed on running fast, jumping high and bench pressing a lot of reps (but running fast is the key, as you will see). These guys are all athletes. They are all good. I know that.
BUT... can they play football? That's the question. You've three or four years of game film to study.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
An athlete may be big, strong and fast. But does mean he's a good football player?
Absolutely not. It just means he's big, strong and fast.
How much emphasis is placed on speed? Check this out:
|They call it the "Money Maker." The 40 yard dash track with a fresh coat of paint. (courtesy Rich Eisen)|
On rare occasion, a great 40 time works out for the player and the team. Chris Johnson from East Carolina ran a 4.24 in 2008. That was (and is) the third fastest 40 time since 2000. Mel Kiper, Jr., ridiculed Jeff Fisher for taking Johnson 24th overall. But Jeff Fisher was (and is) one of the best football minds in the business. He knew Johnson was not only fast, he could play. It worked out pretty well.
On the other hand, C.J. Spiller, who ran a 4.27 in 2010, the sixth fastest time since 2000 , was selected 9th overall by the Bills and Kiper thought it was a "steal." The jury is out on Spiller as of right now, but undrafted workhorse Fred Jackson from the football powerhouse Coe College has played rings around the blue-chipper.
And you know what they say about the Raiders loving speed? It's not a joke... I looked at the top 10 fastest 40 times at the combine since 2000. The Raiders drafted six of those players:
Jacoby Ford - 2nd fastest time.
Darrius Heyward-Bey - 4th fastest time (tied)
DeMarcus Van Dyke - 4th fastest time
Stanford Routt - 6th fastest time
Fabian Washington - 10th fastest time (tied)
Tyvon Branch - 10th fastest time
They are all blisteringly fast, yes. But can they play football?
Only Heyward-Bey, who finally came to life this season, has shown any sign of a productive NFL career.
But there is hope on the horizon, football lovers. Free agency is just 17 days away (March 13th). The NFL draft is just 44 days after that. It's about to get busy around here!