Monday, February 22, 2010

12 comments MMQB Review: The Combine Sucks Edition

Before I get to MMQB for the day. I wanted to focus everyone's attention to a new link in the "More Wonderful Reading" section of the blog. I have posted the link to Sports Nation by commenter Dylan Murphy. It's a good blog to read and he even posts pictures, which as opposed to the wall of text we are all used to seeing here would be a nice change. Not to mention he attacked Shaq a little bit the other day which got some commenters riled up. Basically I am saying I would visit his blog and even bookmark it if you enjoy what he writes, which I think you will.

Oh yes, we have another Monday begin and another MMQB from Peter King. Unlike Gregg Easterbrook who doesn't write MMQB all year round, we always get Peter King's MMQB every single week. During the offseason in the NFL, Peter has to do more actual investigating and covering of stories in the NFL as opposed to his regular season ritual of "calling up a player and getting his story on why his team won the game," which most of the time isn't that exciting. Needless to say because Peter has to do the work of an NFL insider and can't rely on phone conversations to kill space, his MMQB is shorter each week. Because I have no life, I would cover MMQB even if it were only three sentences long.

Sometimes I think if it only contained the useful information Peter shared MMQB would be 3 sentences long. Let's see what is aggravating Peter King this week. Did he have to wait in line for a rental car again at midnight with a couple with two small children who were (shockingly) quarreling and unhappy? Did the barista at a coffee shop put too much milk in his coffee? Or what other major inconvenience in the otherwise perfect life of Peter King did the world perpetrate?

Two weeks after the Super Bowl, three days before the Scouting Combine, two weeks before free agency, here are four NFL observations -- including one that stunned a lot of people in the football business -- and one regarding Tiger.

What is this observation that stunned a lot of people in the football business? Peter leaves a mention of Brett Favre out of his MMQB for the first time since at least January 2009. Could it be true?

Once Peter King talks about Tiger, I don't think I want anyone else's input. An important and successful athlete likes sex and cheats on his wife, I don't know how many more original and thought provoking observations can be made at this point.

The Scouting Combine is coming ... but I wish you wouldn't get very excited about it.

Oh, I am not excited about it. I don't care about the Combine. In fact, I think it is the NFL and sportswriters who hype up the Combine more than any other group. I don't recall a petition being sent around asking that the NFL Network televise the Combine nor do I recall telling General Managers in the NFL to pay attention to Combine numbers when evaluating a college football player. They seem to do that on their own and because the Combine is supposed to be so important, the numbers the athletes get at the Combine are deemed important enough to report.

I hate it when the media tries to sort of blame the fans for any excitement around an event like the Combine when they are the ones doing the thorough coverage of the event. I don't care about it at all and really most fans didn't know about or care about the Combine until the media started reporting on what happened at the Combine. It's a tool NFL scouts use to evaluate players and it takes place during working business hours, so it is not like everyone gets the chance to tune in. In fact, I don't believe I have ever had one discussion with someone about a player's Combine performance unless I was making fun of a player for having man-boobs. I like how according to Peter WE are the ones excited about the Combine, but the media are the ones who rank each player at the end of each day on how they did. I enjoy the Combine numbers each prospect puts up just to compare players, but I never get excited about it.

In my calls around the league in the last few days, I spoke to one club architect who shall remain nameless at his request. He told me his team had changed its way of doing business in the scouting realm this year, and his team's draft board is "90 percent set.''

He changed how he did things "this year" which means we don't know how well his new method is going to work. So just because one important NFL guy changes the way his team does the Combine doesn't mean this is the right way to treat the Combine.

Quoth this architect: "You know why it's 90 percent set now? Because guys go to the Scouting Combine and they change their grade on a player based on things that have nothing to do with playing football.

Here is the tiny hypocrisy of this type of line of thought...this "architect" is so against making picks based on the results at the Combine but his board isn't 100% set because he wants to see what players do at the Combine. He also wants to talk to the players there. So while he (presumably he) thinks the Combine is useless, he still will not settle his draft board completely until he sees the results at the Combine. His team will still be there of course.

Now we need the combine for the medical evaluations and the personal baggage stuff. But don't come in after the combine and tell me you want to change some guy and move him way up because he ran faster than you thought he would. That's where you get in trouble, and that's why our draft board is pretty well set.''

So medical evaluations and personal baggage can affect 10% of this team's draft board and that is why this guy likes the Combine? Don't teams have players attend private workouts with the team, don't colleges have pro day workouts at the school and can't the NFL teams pretty much talk to a prospective NFL player any time they want? The Combine is easy-access to these players but it is not like this is the only chance these teams have to speak to these players. I just believe this guy is protesting a bit much about the uselessness of the Combine.

I don't believe the draft board is 90% set for this architect's team. For one thing, a team's draft board could change significantly based on how other teams perceive and view a player after the Combine. A team's draft board can change from the time the Combine starts until when it ends. Say this guy's team is the Titans and it is 2008. They like Chris Johnson and want to take him at the end of the 1st round. He runs a sub-4.3 40 and all of a sudden if they want Chris Johnson they may have to trade up to get him, so the team's draft board changes. They have to go to another running back they may not value as highly, trade up to get Johnson or find another player to draft in the late first-round. They may not get Chris Johnson at the spot they want him, so a player who they think has a high 1st round grade, but is underrated, now ACTUALLY has a universally high 1st round grade. Where they are drafting they won't get him, so this could change the team's draft board because if they want Johnson they will have to trade up to take him potentially over other players who are ranked higher on their draft board. Of course, they could stick to their draft board and let Johnson go, but how a player performs at the Combine can change how a team does their draft board at times. I find it hard to believe a team's draft board is completely insulated from other team's perception of players.

The same thing goes for a player whose draft stock drops. If that player looks terrible at the Combine and his stock drops to the 3rd/4th round, this team would be kind of crazy to draft a guy in the 2nd round they have a 2nd round grade on when they can get him later. That's all I am saying. A team's draft board is somewhat affected by what round that player is perceived to go off the board and where other teams have that player ranked. I am not an NFL GM, so maybe I am wrong, but this seems to make sense to me.

If I told you who this speaker was, you'd all say, "Whoa, we have to listen to this guy. We respect him.'' Just take my word for it. He's legit.

We all know it is Bill Polian. He's the only NFL "architect" who would openly brag about something like least now that Matt Millen is out of the league. Also, I don't know why we should listen to this person yet since he indicated his team changed their policy THIS YEAR so we don't know how successful it will be.

I enjoy the combine. It gives me the chance to meet a lot of players I'll be covering in the future and to see people in the NFL and get team-by-team updates. It's valuable. But it's way overrated in terms of deciding who should get picked where in the draft, and it always will be.

The Combine is like a meat market for Peter. He can poke and prod the future quarterbacks he will stalk and write stories about.

Also, I think everyone knows the Combine is overrated. Yet, the NFL still has it every year.

On Thursday, the NFL hired Vincent to be vice president for player development of active players. He succeeds Mike Haynes, another former star NFL cornerback, in trying to help players find education and work opportunities to make them more complete people -- and to ensure they won't become liabilities for the league off the field.

I like how the NFL is hiring ex-player's union leaders in leadership positions in the NFL. If you can't beat the players just hire all their leaders away.

Vincent starts his job today, and he'll take his act on the road in midweek at the combine in Indianapolis, addressing the 300-plus potential draftees.

Don't bother Troy Vincent, one team's "architect" has his draft board set. There is nothing further you can do to help these potential draftees.

I've been told the election loss stunned Vincent and sent him into a funk. But he says he harbors no bitterness. "It was simple,'' he said. "I wasn't who the players wanted. They wanted to go in a non-player direction. In an election, you're going to have a winner and a loser. De's a wonderful individual and he's hired a very good staff around him.''

I want to, but I find it hard to believe Troy Vincent, who used to be a competitive NFL athlete, harbors no bitterness at losing this election. Why did he go into a funk then? He was depressed he lost the race in which he was widely considered to be the leader of the pack. I am not saying Vincent is trying to get back at anyone, I just think Peter is naive if he believes Vincent harbors no bitterness to losing an election when he dedicated his life to competing in sports.

In restricted free agency are four veteran Pro Bowl wideouts sure to be tagged with restrictive pricetags by their teams: Brandon Marshall (Denver), Vincent Jackson (San Diego), Braylon Edwards (Jets) and Miles Austin (Dallas). The Jets have already announced Edwards will require first- and third-round draft picks as compensation if a team wants to steal him. I expect the other three to be similarly restricted.

I don't dislike Braylon Edwards but I think if the Jets had a chance to put just first-round compensation on him, he wouldn't get "stolen" from them...especially in a deep draft like the upcoming one.

Who will be out there fishing for them? I wouldn't be surprised to see Miami and its former Dallas triumvirate of Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano sniffing around Austin -- a player Parcells nurtured before leaving the Cowboys --but I think Jerry Jones would match any offer but a wildly excessive one ($11 million a year, say).

What? If there is anything Bill Parcells usually doesn't do it is give away draft picks and sign wide receivers to large contracts, much less do both of these things for one specific player. I would be shocked if Bill Parcells spent a 1st and 3rd round pick on Miles Austin and then gave him a huge contract. Peter King realizes Bill Parcells likes having good receivers, but Parcells doesn't tend to like giving up draft picks for them doesn't he?

The Ravens are a good trading partner in one way -- they aren't afraid of taking a chance, and owner Steve Bisciotti is a risk-taker. But they're a bad trading partner in another way. They've had so much success with high draft picks in the Ozzie Newsome Era (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed early, Michael Oher, Haloti Ngata and Joe Flacco late) that it would have to be a great deal for them to surrender their first-round pick.

Another questionable comment by Peter. Yes, the Ravens have had success in draft at drafting for many positions, but wide receiver is not one of those positions. Remember Mark Clayton? It's not like the Ravens are afraid to have guys who have personality problems on their team because they have the veterans to control these players. I would Baltimore would be a natural landing spot for Brandon Marshall because of this.

The NFL's statement on the McKinnie slap-on-the-wrist: "As a result of his dismissal from the NFC Pro Bowl team prior to the game, Bryant McKinnie has forfeited his $22,500 game check and is required to reimburse the NFL for $4,285.13 for Pro Bowl expenses that he incurred. The Competition Committee will review this matter to determine whether additional steps should be taken to deter this type of conduct at the Pro Bowl in the future."

I don't get why Peter is so worked up over this Bryant McKinnie thing. The Pro Bowl is a joke. What should done to a player who skips an exhibition game that is supposed to honor how well a player has played throughout the season? It doesn't make sense other than to fine him his game check and any expenses he incurred. Peter is still on his high horse though.

1. Who in the world thought he was getting the $22,500 in the first place, after being whacked from the team the day before the game? That's no penalty. That's an expectation.

Sort of agreed, but he did get voted to the team and he did show up (sort of). I think he should be fined for missing practice or perhaps he should have been sent home after he missed the 1st practice.

2. Who in the world thought the NFL would have picked up his expenses for travel to and from and hotel room at a game he, of his own free will, did not participate in? Again, that's no penalty. I would expect the league would take expense money back from a person who didn't live up to his end of the expense deal.

I am pretty sure the league has already paid for all of those expenses, so McKinnie has to pay them back. If I am reading this right, the NFL has already picked up his expenses and he has to pay them back.

3. I do appreciate that the Competition Committee will now set some sort of sanction for Pro Bowl players who, for some incredibly immature reason, don't show up for practice or other team functions. But this deserved a $100,000 fine by Goodell.

Bryant McKinnie is a dick for his actions, but it is the Pro Bowl. The game is a joke in itself. Taking this seriously enough to fine a guy $100K for missing the game is ridiculous.

Here's why: McKinnie openly campaigned on his Twitter feed to get votes for the game, then was voted into the game. He didn't show up for Wednesday's mandatory practice and offensive line meeting. He arrived at Thursday's offensive-line meeting five minutes before the end of it, leaving the players in the room seething; if they had to be there, why didn't McKinnie? In the room were teammate Steve Hutchinson, who put off much-needed offseason shoulder surgery, and Giants tackle David Diehl, who had painful patellar tendinitis.

Bryant McKinnie should have behaved more appropriately but why didn't they just send his ass home on Wednesday when he missed practice and let that be that? Send him home if he misses practice, tell him all of his expenses are on him and then fine him $50,000. But $100,000 is a bit much for a missed exhibition game practice.

Can we please stop with the over-the-top Tiger Woods coverage?

ESPN refuses to do so. I also found it interesting how no one affiliated with ESPN came down hard on Tiger for his monotone and over-prepared statement. They want the first interview, so they don't want to piss him off by criticizing him.

I love Mike Tirico of ESPN, but when he said Woods' televised reading of his statement was one of those moments you'll always remember where you were, I was shocked.

The problem is that Peter King is taking Mike Tirico seriously. Tirico was probably writing sexually explicit messages to his co-workers and trying to find a way to see up Hannah Storm's skirt while he was saying this insanely wrong statement. Mike Tirico even commenting on the Tiger Woods monotone over-prepared speech is incredibly ironic given the sexual harassment accusations that have flown at him by women at ESPN.

The columns I've seen, that we've all seen, claiming that he's absolutely full of redemption or absolutely full of crap ... absurd.

We don't know. Let time prove whether the guy has changed or not. That's the only way we can know.

I absolutely agree with Peter King. We knew this would happen though. The media and the public would never be happy no matter what Tiger did. If he read the statement with no emotion, they would say he didn't care, if he read the statement with emotion and cried, no one would believe he was being truthful. After he decided to screw half the female population, he was in a no-win situation.

"You know the Patriots don't really pay, so when I got my second contract from them that was a blessing in disguise. I understand the business. I don't think they're going to re-sign me back. I'm not mad. I'm not bitter. It's just the way things are in this NFL, so like I said, after this year, I'll be looking for a new team. I think so.''

-- Randy Moss, the 33-year-old Patriots' receiver due to make $6.4 million in this, the last year of his contract with New England.

Moss made $6.4 million last year or $640,000 for every game he actually tried to play the best he could.

"Football's come so easy to him. Does he love it the way Steve Smith or Bryant Young or Jerry Rice love it? I don't think so. But he's got so much God-given ability ... You do think, 'Man, a guy with that much ability, imagine if he did love it.' ''

-- Former Julius Peppers teammate Brentson Buckner, on Peppers, the tantalizing free-agent defensive end of the Carolina Panthers, to Albert Breer of Boston Globe in an interesting story about the risks that await possible buyers in the Peppers sweepstakes.

I can't wait for the Panthers to move on without Julius Peppers. There have been so many times I have seen him do something on the field and then just been so glad he is on my favorite team. There have been times I have wondered how the hell a guy like him can do what he just did on the field. He's a freak. There have also been times I wanted him off the team ASAP. He also doesn't always give a shit no matter what his defenders try to tell you. He disappears at times, yes he gets doubled a lot, but it doesn't explain why in some games he is just not there at all and other games (think the Minnesota game) he is able to absolutely abuse a Pro Bowl left tackle. He's a great player but he sets a new bar for frustrating.

Now a nod to the 25 or so hours I've watched of the Olympics in the last week. Five quick observations:

1. Ski racing is more dangerous than NASCAR.

You mean a sport where a person is attached to two wooden sleds on each leg, goes down a hill at high speeds, on a track that is basically built over nature and the person has nothing protecting him/her other than a helmet is more dangerous than a sport where a person has tons of safety gear and a freaking car to mute the impact of a collision? Do tell more to me about your wonderful insights Peter King, do tell more.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

The Baltimore Ravens have a soft real-and-fake grass mix at their training facility in Owings Mills, Md., called SportGrass. No player likes to be timed on SportGrass, preferring the faster track of a tartan track or artificial turf. But the Ravens have used the surface to time players for the 40-yard dash for several years, and it usually results in a time about two-tenths of a second slower than the time a player would run on a track or pure artificial turf.

When 29-year-old Donte' Stallworth worked out for the team early last week, he stepped foot on the SportGrass and ran a 4.40-second 40. It's the fastest time recorded on the turf by the club.

You mean Peter King is going to base his opinion of Donte' Stallworth on the 40 yard dash, just like an ignorant talent evaluator would at the Combine? Doesn't he know the only way to see Stallworth's talent is to watch what he does on the field and times like his 4.4 in the 40 are useless? Isn't this just what he was just telling us? The un-named incredibly successful NFL architect would be disappointed Peter doesn't share his feelings about the Combine.

Stallworth probably thought the cops were behind him when he was running or he just got faster since he quit driving his car drunk and high.

OK, I realize the game is different than when Hayes played. But Monk often played in three-wide formations as the passing game exploded, and Irvin is a peer with Carter, Brown and Reed. We have to ask ourselves as a committee: Is Carter, with double the touchdowns of Irvin, 351 more catches and being a better boundary ball-catcher ... not deserving just because Irvin leads him in Super Bowl victories 3-0?

Doesn't Peter King know the only way to properly evaluate a player's individual career statistics is to use team achievements? That's why Lynn Swann is in the Hall of Fame and Cris Carter isn't, right?

1. I think you should take a moment and read the Denver Post story, by Mike Klis, on Brandon Marshall and the real reason he might want out of Denver (link below). It has to do with the murder of Darrent Williams just over three years ago, and a pretty well-kept secret over the past couple of years -- that Marshall was in the vortex of a disagreement with some gang members that night.

Are there any NFL teams that shouldn't be incredibly excited to give up a 1st round and 3rd round pick for a player who has maturity issues and got his friend killed because he got in an argument with gang members? Going once, going twice...

2. I think I would be shocked -- as would the St. Louis Rams, quite frankly -- if the Bucs were remotely serious about trading up to number one in the draft from their spot at three. If you haven't noticed in the last 15 months, the Bucs are shedding salary the way I wish I could shed pounds, which is to say, with consistent regularity. Paying JaMarcus Russell money ($39 million in the first three years of his Oakland deal) to a defensive tackle would blow everyone in the league away. As one source with knowledge of the inner workings of each team said to me in a text the other night when I asked about the chances of the Bucs and Rams dealing: "About the same as Colgate joining the Big East.''

So basically, based on Peter's past accuracy in making predictions, look for the Bucs to move up in the draft and Colgate to join the Big East.

3. I think the Donte Stallworth deal -- totally non-guaranteed, for $900,000 in salary and $300,000 in incentives, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN--is good for both parties. As you read earlier in the column, he's as fast as he was earlier in his career,

IT WAS A 40 YARD DASH LIKE AT THE COMBINE! How can this be useful? These are useless says one important NFL architect who Peter King thinks we should believe, but apparently not believe too much.

In all seriousness, I am not a huge fan of the Combine, and believe it tells us something about the athleticism of a player, but not what kind of football player he will be. I just don't get how Peter can report a 40 yard dash at the Combine is useless, but the fact Donte' Stallworth ran a fast 40 yard dash means he is going to be play well when he returns to the NFL or this means he is even ready to contribute to a team. He's fast, that's all this time tell us.

8. I think the toughest thing for Holmgren is to mesh three key people to the long-term success of the Browns who have not worked together before -- Holmgren, GM Tom Heckert (hired from the Eagles) and coach Eric Mangini --and get their various core beliefs to mesh in such a short time. I don't remember three strangers being thrown together before like that to run a team.

What natural conclusion do I draw from this, especially considering the core beliefs of these three people are all fairly different? Someone has to go. I don't see how Mangini, Heckert and Holmgren are going to all get along. Either one of those people has to be gone or there may be a mess up there in Cleveland. Unless someone adapts very quickly and easily.

d. I can see it now (or, rather, I can't see it, because I'll be dead): In my obit, the second paragraph will read, "King, who worked for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades, goes to his grave widely known for writing about bad lattes, field hockey and poor hotel fitness centers.'' Uh-oh. I'm in trouble.

Oh more trouble than you think Peter. There is also Peter King complaining about normal everyday inconveniences like they are huge road bumps in his aim for perfection in life, his obvious statements like "Andre Johnson is good," and his completely off-the-wall proclamations like Derek Jeter is the best player of his lifetime (which actually meant the last 25 years, but still isn't true I don't think).

I am sure there is more, I just have forgotten some of the things he has done right now.

g. Tremendous fun the other night over at Harvard, watching the Crimson host Cornell at Lavietes Pavilion. Cornell's the Ivy team that lost at top-rated Kansas by five last month, with a mobile 7-foot center, Jeff Foote, and a swingman who can shoot the lights out, Ryan Wittman, son of former NBAer Randy Wittman. Great atmosphere; packed house of 2,100, with Danny Ainge on hand to scout for the Celtics.

What was cute afterward: The fans just standing around, moms and dads and roommates, mingling with the Cornell players and giving them food for the trip to Dartmouth after the game. Reminded me of a big high school game, with fans on top of the floor and players who are not headed for the next level playing like it was the biggest game of their lives.

Most players who play Division I college basketball are not headed for the next level, so I have found many college basketball games are played like it was the biggest game of the student-athlete's lives, which is why I like college basketball so much. This game isn't the first played like that...just thought I would mention that.


Does everyone know what that means? Peter King has broken his streak of mentioning Brett Favre in every single MMQB since January 2009, and probably further back. This is a momentous occasion and I have no doubt Peter will mention him a minimum of 5 times next week to make up for it.


Dylan Murphy said...

Thanks for the mention of my blog. I have to say that the fact that Donte Stallworth is even in the NFL right now is ridiculous.

Regarding the combine, Vernon Gholston is the primary example of why you cannot trust it. At Ohio State, he was mediocre. Sometimes he would explode for great games, but most of the time he was a non factor. Then he has an unbelievable comibine, and what do you know, he goes 6th. Then he gets to the Jets and he's terrible.

With the olympics, you have to love that the U.S. beat Canada in hockey. I almost feel bad that we won, since the entire country probably did not go to work today. Although all these comparisons to the 1980 miracle team are horrible. No one would have cared if we had lost. There's no Cold War with Canada. Yeah it's cool we won, but it's still hockey, which will never be of great importance to Americans (in general). And all the players are NHL guys. It's not as if they're in college like the 1980's team.

Kevin said...

I just love that Peter starts a section with the "Can we please stop talking about Tiger Woods?" question even agreeing with a tweet that it's a non-story that every writer feels he needs to give his take on.

Then a paragraph later, Peter feels the need to give us his take.

rich said...

I see Peter went to his old stand-bye: things people agree with me on, but I'm going to act like they don't to feel like I'm superior.

Is there anyone, outside of GMs and fans of particular players, who actually cares about the combine? There are a few exceptions like Gholston, but it seems like, for the most part, it's entirely about seeing the work ethic, getting the medical evaluations and the interviews. Remember how the OL from Alabama was considered a possible number 1 and then showed up horribly out of shape and slipped? That's why it exists. If someone can't dedicate themselves to staying in shape for the biggest day of their life (draft), then you have to reconsider.


You're absolutely right in that most people wouldn't have really been affected by the US losing to Canada, partially because that was the expected outcome. The fact that the US team just beat the hands on favorite (thanks Ryan Miller!), shows that maybe the US hockey team can actually medal this year after year of mediocre to sub-par international competition.

That said, anyone who compares this game with the 1980 miracle on ice is misinformed. Beating the Soviets meant that the US had to play Finland (who lost their first game in the medal round) for the gold. Beating the Canadiens this year just means that the US wins their group and gets a more favorable seeding in the medal round.

Not only with the Cold War still on going, but a bunch of college kids with no international or pro experience beat the team that had been playing together for a decade and the country who had won the 64, 68, 72 and 76 gold medals. Not to be forgotten is that the win happened on "home-ice" so to speak, so it was probably an incredible experience even to watch on tv. Watching the game on MSNBC didn't help at all.

Litmus test: 30 years later people still talk about the 1980 game (not even a gold medal game), how many people will be talking about this game by the time the next Olympics roll around?

Now the US World Junior team beating the Canadiens this year to win? That's a game I'll remember watching (even though I'm sure only like 15 of us did).

rich said...

Correction: a US victory over Finland meant gold (since every other team had a loss after the Soviets beat Sweden); a US loss to Finland would have left every team 1-1 and the US would have played Sweden, while the Soviets would have played Finland.

Martin F. said...

If it is Polian, one has to wonder why he would change his successful method of drafting players, and suddenly go to a new system. Or is it him just talking shit to P King, and the Kingster lapping it up like the mindless scribe we know he is? If the Colts have a bad dradft, can we all expect to see a P King column about how their new method didn't work?

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, no problem.

The Combine is kind of a joke b/c there are execs who treat it like it means more than actual performance. I don't think it really serves a great purpose, but I do find it hard for a team's draft board to be set in February for an April draft. That seems unbelievable to me.

I was proud the Americans beat the Canadians, but there didn't seem to be a whole lot on the line for us if we had lost and I get the feeling it was much more important to Canadians than Americans.

Kevin, welcome to how Peter King works right? It's not worth talking about and then Peter talks about it.

Rich, I see the Combine as a sort of test the players study for at home. If they show up to the Combine out of shape or not looking good, it may bring into question their work ethic, throw in the fact I am pretty sure they get drug tested there and it tests whether that player is a complete moron or not.

Good point about the competition being different for the 1980 Olympic team. Those were college kids while the Russians were a team that was pretty much a machine at that point. There is a very bad comparison to be made, if someone even insists on making a comparison.

Martin F, I can't say for sure it is Polian, but he seems like a guy who would be ballsy enough to brag like that and someone who talks to Peter King. I find it funny he didn't let his name be known. If it is such a great system put in place THIS YEAR then why not share it with everyone so we know who the real geniuses are?

I think PK lapped it up eagerly without thinking too much. Who knows if this method even works? There won't even a way to tell for 2-3 more years. I am trying to think of other GMs it could be who would talk to PK about this. It can't be Belichick because he wouldn't reveal anything at all about what he ate for breakfast, much less his Combine strategy.

ivn said...

The combine is very important to Al Davis; if he doesn't know the best 40 yard dash time he doesn't know who to pick.

I think some coaches/front ofice types love guys who do well at the Combine the same way NBA types fall in love with 7 footers or run and jump guys like Tyrus Thomas: they want to believe they can mold the (uncoachable) physical attributes of Prospect X into something that would translate into performance on the playing field. Unfortunately most of the time the guy turns out to be a glorified track star with no skills or coordination.

Fred Trigger said...

It actually reminds me about moneyball, in the sense that, while most front offices were drafting guys who were awesome atheletes and performed physical tasks well, Beane was drafting guys who were actually good at baseball.

The Casey said...

I think the Combine can also help in two rr three other cases: when a player's coming back from injury; when a player played at a school so small you don't get a good feel for level of competition; or when a lower-rated player performs well enough to influence a team to go back and watch more game film, maybe to see if they can use him in the return game or at a different position.

Is the Combine overrated? Definitely. But it is a tool, and a valid one, as long as you don't read too much into it.

KentAllard said...

I'll definitely check out Dylan's blog.

A first and a third for Braylon Freakin' Edwards? Did dropping passes become a sought-after NFL skill while I wasn't looking.

Rich, I was one of the 15 watching the World Juniors, too.

Well, we know the successful architect isn't Al Davis. God, I want the raiders to draft Tebow in the first round so badly.

Dylan Murphy said...


Agreed about Braylon. Although you can't blame the Jets for protecting him, since they have no threats at all (even though Braylon has worse hands than Chris Chambers, and I think that's saying something). We see it all the time though. Teams fall in love with athleticism over skill. All Marques Colston had going for him out of college was super glue for hands, but questionable speed/agility. But he obviously made it work. If you can catch, you don't need that much separation to begin with. The Braylon Edwards of the world need 5 feet of space to guarantee a catch.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, that is a good point. I know teams were wanting Tyrus Thomas for that very same reason, because he is athletic and it just seems like he could provide something to a team. Who cares if he really hasn't done much and it is the same reason the Knicks chose Jordan Hill and then less than a full season later were trying to trade him. The Combine is a chance to fall in love with athleticism.

Casey, I agree with you on that. For me, the Combine just tells a team what a player is like athletically and also may open some people's eyes to other players, but some teams use it as, maybe not a replacement, but too much of a supplement to the player's actual performance on the field.

I can't think of a team actually wanting to sign Edwards for a first and a third and then have to sign him to a contract. Maybe the Raiders, but other than that no team would do this.

I actually thought about the Raiders drafting Tebow and how I would actually feel sympathy for him at that point. Imagine Tebow looks great on pro day and at the Combine, then Davis drafts him for his athleticism (like he does) and then Tebow has no chance.

Dylan, and that is the sad part. The Jets have to protect Edwards b/c he has more value to them than many other teams. I don't know how to determine whether a player is a good wide receiver or not but I think speed is probably fairly overrated in the scheme of things.