One day. One run. One jump. One chance to determine a player’s future. An individual’s career hinges on his performance for six days. The NFL combine is not an accurate assesment of skill.
At the NFL combine, held at Lucas Oil Stadium, NFL coaches, general managers and scouts assess prospective draftees. The athletes compete in events such as the 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jumps and bench press. Their physical measurements such as arm length and height are recorded, and interviews and drug tests are also conducted to determine whether a player is prepared to compete at the professional level.
Every athlete has an “off day.” What if a team bases its draft pick on an athlete who didn’t perform to their utmost ability? A failed sprint can equal a nonexistent career. If an athlete is sick, he can miss an opportunity for his future by running a slower sprint.
The combine cannot stimulate the energy of gametime. Some athletes turn on during competition; their playing ability becomes explosive. The cheer of passionate fans is not heard in the arena of the combine. The athlete is not relying on his teammates. The players are not screaming, jumping with untamed adrenaline running through their veins. None of these factors are present at the combine.
The ability to run quickly does not mean that a player can catch at the same time. Why judge a quarterback on the height or length of his jump? What about his throwing accuracy?
Two wide receivers with the same stats can be drafted in different rounds based solely on their arm lengths. Should a wing span that is two inches longer determine how well the player will perform at the next level?
The ability to play football should be based on more than one’s arm length or height. Drive is something not measured in yards or timed by sprints; it is felt only in the intensity of competition. Leadership is essential to the game of football and is seen in the underdog and fourth quarter moments of games. The combine judges tangibles, while the characteristics that define an outstanding athelte are those that are intangible. The combine should not be the basis for professional teams’ decisions. Instead, the NFL should study an athlete’s playing record, college career and integrity.