A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in one of my arguments that several sporting events are over hyped. The Kentucky Derby came to mind, as did National Signing Day for college football as basis for that particular argument. The NFL Scouting Combine could be lumped into that category as it has seemingly grown in stature over the past few years. Many of the time trials and drills are actually televised by the NFL Network. However, I recognize the fact that NFL teams want to do their homework and their due diligence on the players. Does that make the combine still relevant? That is the focus of this debate.
Babe Ruthless openly questions the validity of the combine, stating that the activities at the combine do not truly evaluate the ability of a player to play football. The Wonderlic test, which has gained more awareness in recent years, does not escape the wrath of Babe Ruthless. I happen to agree that this test really does not test an athlete’s football ability and has no place in football, as evident by the fact that a punter is the only player to ever score a perfect 50 on the test.
I will admit that Bleacher Fan went an entirely different direction than I initially thought he would, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. In addition to the field activities, one of the things that the teams do with the players is talk to them individually and get an indication of how their “football” mind works. Bleacher Fan chose to highlight Chris Johnson. We all know Chris Johnson now, and he has helped many fantasy football owners, including me, in his first two seasons in the league. But coming out of college he was a relative unknown, at least to the casual fan anyway. He parlayed an impressive overall performance at the combine in 2008 to a first round selection, something that most definitely would not have happened otherwise.
I can see both sides of this. On one end, how much can we really tell about a player because of a 40-yard dash time? There are some fast NFL players who are not necessarily good football players… just as there are strong some NFL linemen who are just average at blocking. However, I also realize that the combine is essentially a job interview. The players, or future employees, are there to impress the teams, or their future employers. The teams will be spending millions of dollars on these players over the coming years, so they definitely have a right to gather all the information necessary. As Bleacher Fan wrote, scouting is an inexact science. So, every bit of information, no matter how minute it may appear to be, can provide some insight to the organization. Taking all of that into consideration, I am declaring Bleacher Fan the victor.
It is up to the organizations to decide how much value to put on a player’s performance at the combine. But it is the job of the scouts to come up with the best possible evaluation, and watching a player go through tests and watching how the player interacts is a part of that evaluation. That makes the combine still relevant.