NFL Scouting Combine

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Since 1982 NFL coaches, scouts, and media converge (in the city of Indianapolis since 1987) for one week in late February to conduct what is known as “The World’s Longest Job Interview” aka. the NFL Combine. Players go through extensive medical examinations, are pummeled with monotonous questions, subject themselves to every imaginable agility drill, and are required to complete the infamous Wonderlic (Cognitive Ability) Test at the NFL Combine. By the way, how come no other sport uses the Wonderlic Test? And who determined that football is somehow the only sport that should require a minimum aptitude? Do you ever wonder if the NFL Combine is a waste of time?

 

If you happen to have the NFL Network channel, you can watch much of the weeks’  NFL Combine events unfold live, and plans are in the works for further event expansion and even fan interaction. Why? The drills and 50-question /12-minute Wonderlic Test usually don’t reveal anything about a player that we didn’t already know or can’t adequately scrutinize with the aid of our 24/7 sports media coverage. In recent years, not all high-profile college players have chosen to fully-participate, and instead or in addition to the Combine hold a separate “Pro Day” on their respective campuses completely under their own conditions. I contend it’s all becoming more of a showcase circus contrived by some HR organizational guru that knows nothing about the game itself. The NFL Combine has become information overload. Who cares how high a player can jump or how fast he can run around cones. Besides the medical exams, just focus on the INTERVIEW and do your homework!

 

Excluding any new marks attained this year, the all-time NFL Combine records, with the exception of a 4.24-sec. 40-yard dash by Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans (then of East Carolina), are owned by a bunch of guys you never heard of…….many never have even started in the pro ranks. See Justin Ernest (51 reps of 225lb. bench press), Scott Starks (11ft.-4in. standing broad jump), and Gerald Sensabaugh (46-inch vertical jump) as just some of the examples that prove this point. Likewise, the Wonderlic findings identify players that were already known to have academic struggles (you’re telling me we didn’t already know that Vince Young was unfamiliar with the inside of a classroom?). Just check their transcripts! Worse yet, the 50 questions have nothing at all to do with football! “Average” intelligence for the Wonderlic is equated to a score of 20, but NFL stars like Dan Marino (16), Donavan McNabb (14), Hakeen Nicks (11), and Sebastian Janokowski (9) have all done pretty well with BELOW average scores. There are bad test-takers you know! Who gives a damn about aptitude test scores….how does he play the game?

 

My suggestion to NFL owners……..have your coaches and scouts watch all the game tape they can find to see if a player routinely makes mistakes and see how often they simply out-perform their opponent. Isn’t game-to-game consistency a lot more revealing than one week’s performance on agility drills? Ask the player’s coaches about their learning abilities. If basic intelligence is still a concern, administer your own “football-only” test on schemes, pattern recognition, and techniques……..like what Jon Gruden does with soon-to-be NFL quarterbacks on ESPN. When you break it down fundamentally, all a football player needs to understand is football…….he doesn’t need to know how to perform simple algebra at the now famous NFL Combine!

 

To increase the odds of selecting future NFL stars, I say forget about all the numbers in Indianapolis. Focus on the face-to-face interviews and two simple questions…….ask the player to describe his love of the game and have him give examples of his desire to learn. Don’t overlook THIS particular information. That’s all you need!

 

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