General managers, coaches and others affiliated with the league will gather in Indianapolis next week as the annual NFL Combine a.k.a. “The Meat Market” unfolds.
The best and brightest draft prospects will be subjected to a litany of individual tests as NFL teams attempt to gage the abilities of the players that will be available to select on draft day.
While the combine does provide a platform for talented players to improve their draft stock, it is anything but a reliable indicator of whether or not a guy is going to be successful playing on Sundays. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles’ fans who remember Mike Mamula if you want proof of how the combine can artificially inflate the value of a workout warrior.
If recent history is any indication, fans of the Tennessee Titans should expect to see at least one of the 2009 combine’s peak performers become part of the team’s draft class in late April.
During his first year as general manager in 2007, Mike Reinfeldt dipped his hands into the workout warrior cookie jar a couple of times on draft day.
Despite limited experience running the football on the college level, Chris Henry’s Mamula-esque combine performance paved the way for him to be a surprise 2nd round draft pick by the Titans that year:
“Henry went into the Combine as a wild-card selection. His size and athleticism suggested some team would select him during the April 28-29 event in New York, but his decision to leave Arizona after only three years of sparse experience raised questions.
Henry answered them with arguably the most complete physical performance of any running back. He tied Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, the No. 1 prospect at the position, for the top times in the 40-yard dash (4.4 seconds) and the broad jump (10 feet, 7 inches).”
That will be the last time Henry’s mentioned in the same breath as Peterson, who has a commanding 3,101-122 advantage in the career yardage department over Mr. Invisible.
Fresno State’s Paul Williams also caught Reiny’s eye at the 2007 combine. Paul’s impressive size and workouts undoubtedly played a key role in the team’s decision to spend a third-round selection on him that April:
“Paul Williams (Fresno St.) is another Senior Bowl standout that showed off during the combine as well. Williams has great size (6’1, 200 lbs.) and plays a very physical style of football. He’s been the highest riser at the WR position since the Senior Bowl.”
Unfortunately, Paul’s been on the milk carton ever since, as indicated by his paltry one career reception in his first two seasons as a pro.
Of course, Reinfeldt redeemed himself in 2008 with his decision to draft East Carolina’s Chris Johnson in the first round. CJ’s scintillating 4.24 forty-yard dash was one of the highlights of last year’s combine.
From his 66-yard preseason touchdown run against the Rams to his stellar first-half performance against the Ravens in the playoffs, Johnson proved that his combine workout was a preview of great things to come during his rookie year.
So Titan fans, enjoy watching potential draftees register jaw-dropping 40-times at next week’s NFL combine because as recent years indicate, one of the guys you’re drooling over will probably be wearing a two-tone blue uniform next year…
For better or worse.