Skip to content

King throws water on the Scouting Combine

ap090222075278.jpgWe respect the opinions of tenured NFL writers.  We respect them even more when they mesh with our own.

Last week, we pointed out the pointlessness of the annual “Underwear Olympics,” which like the real Olympics does not yet include football among the events:  “As we’ve heard time and again over the years, a football player needs
to be able to run 40 yards in a straight line only on one of two
occasions — when something very good has happened, and when something
very bad has happened.”   

Peter King of SI.com echoes the point in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, via an explanation from an unnamed team “architect” (he should have assumed the name “Art Vandelay”) who said that his draft board for 2010 is “90 percent set.”

“You know why it’s 90 percent set now?” the source told King.  “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
.  I’m convinced if you took the
stopwatches away from a lot of these guys, most of ‘em would not be
able to tell you whether they liked a player or not.

“These guys go out and watch players all fall, then we all watch the
tape of all these guys, and we see what kind of football players they
are.  That’s scouting.  Who plays good football in pads?  That’s scouting. 
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.”

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to the Scouting Combine.  After all, and as the original Art Vandelay once said regarding the “show about nothing,” it’s on TV. 

But it’s important to keep it in perspective.  Unless and until the Scouting Combine includes games between incoming NFL players and current NFL players, nothing that happens this week will provide keen insight into whether men who were great college players will be good pro football players.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Sprint Football Live - Rumors, Top Stories
44 Responses to “King throws water on the Scouting Combine”
  1. BigHarold says: Feb 22, 2010 9:59 AM

    It’s Buddy Nix

  2. yem123 says: Feb 22, 2010 10:02 AM

    Great article. Now only if Al Davis would read this and change his mind, the Raiders might be good!
    Say Vandelay! Say Vandelay!

  3. afiresnake says: Feb 22, 2010 10:03 AM

    Sorry, did I misread something or did somebody (who is actually working for an NFL franchise, not like this nitwit Mr. King) say that “90″ percent was set, not “100″ percent.
    Which tells me – my math might be broken here – that something does in fact happen at the combine. Be it interviews or not.
    If it is 5 to 8 percent combine influence, that is a decent deal for a three day (?) event? It makes it fairly easy to schedule interviews if you have all the guys in one place. And AFAIK, any team sends guys to the combine. You know, because it is pointless.

  4. BBrophy1 says: Feb 22, 2010 10:06 AM

    As Jeff Fisher said on the coach’s corner, Scouting Combine stats should just confirm and strengthen what you have already seen on tape, or make you go back and watch more tape on the guy

  5. cailte says: Feb 22, 2010 10:11 AM

    Points well taken. Also bear in mind that “football fast” can be very different from running a straight line in gym shorts. Many of those 4.3s and 4.4s go sky high when the pads go on and the D nasties start giving hits. But, as they say, a pessimist is never disappointed.

  6. Florio-is-a-tool says: Feb 22, 2010 10:13 AM

    There is a lot of good that comes out of the combine and that’s the interviews with players. Unfortunately those aren’t televised.
    Another bit of humor coming out of it is seeing Mel Kiper getting sexually aroused by young men in shorts. Amazing they let him within 500 feet of those guys.

  7. swervinmervin says: Feb 22, 2010 10:13 AM

    Knowing how Peter King keeps his nose up the crack of a certain franchise – I think its safe to assume it was Bill Bellicheck he was talking to.

  8. toe-to-toe bird law says: Feb 22, 2010 10:15 AM

    I understand King’s point, but if any member of the Titan’s scouting team drafted Chris Johnson based on his 4.24 record breaking 40 time at the Combine, you can’t really fault them at this point, can you?

  9. Mean D says: Feb 22, 2010 10:23 AM

    I coach youth football and they still have 10 year olds running the 40 – linemen too. It’s ridiculous.

  10. jj jones says: Feb 22, 2010 10:24 AM

    “nothing that happens this week will provide keen insight into whether men who were great college players will be good pro football players.”
    Disagree. Tell that to Chris Johnson.

  11. PFTiswhatitis says: Feb 22, 2010 10:26 AM

    “BBrophy1 says:
    February 22, 2010 10:06 AM
    As Jeff Fisher said on the coach’s corner, Scouting Combine stats should just confirm and strengthen what you have already seen on tape, or make you go back and watch more tape on the guy”
    I agree. How did you fail to mention that Florio? Its common sense that the stopwatch isnt deciding anything. But the combine does help CONFIRM these athletes.
    I hate when PFT articles are posted because of content need and overlook the basics. Kind of like using a stopwatch at the combine to make decisions.

  12. WarrenMoonGOAT says: Feb 22, 2010 10:28 AM

    its all about the wonderlic test

  13. Terry Griffin says: Feb 22, 2010 10:33 AM

    Once when asked about a particular offensive lineman’s questionable time in the 40, Bill Belichik responded with; ” there are not many game situations that would require a tackle to run 40 yards downfield in a straight line. “

  14. Harm City Homer says: Feb 22, 2010 10:35 AM

    That last 10% can be the difference in winning and losing.
    The prospects do a lot more than run the 40. They are tested in just about every way imaginable and when you are close on 2 players, the speed, the strength, the intelect can make the choice pretty easy, even if it turns out to be wrong.

  15. It puts the lotion on the skin says: Feb 22, 2010 10:37 AM

    Why does everyone bring up Chris Johnson. He was going to be drafted, regardless of his speed. He just got drafted earlier than expected because of his speed.
    Everyone mentioning Johnson, acts, as if he was a nobody, no one had ever heard of him, and then, out of nowhere, this kid runs a 4.2, and instantly 32 teams were introduced to Chris Johnson…..
    His 40 time took him from a 4th round pick, to a first round pick. It made him a lot more money, but it wasnt the only reason he was picked….

  16. txtumbleweed says: Feb 22, 2010 10:37 AM

    It would make more sense if they ran all the drills in full gear and then you would have a better ideal but it still wouldn’t tell you his football instincts.

  17. tv says: Feb 22, 2010 10:40 AM

    Watching a guy on tape playing football should be all one needs.
    I just love to hear Kiper talk about guys stock rising and dropping when nothing is happening. Seems like this is a device that Kiper and others use to keep themselves relevant and employed. It is nothing more than that.

  18. Bill In DC says: Feb 22, 2010 10:42 AM

    Well duh. The key for speed players is NOT their straight line speed, its their ability to change direction without losing speed. See Chris Johnson, Felix Jones.
    WRs get separation from changing direction without losing (or without losing too much speed), CBs get recovery speed from the same thing, RBs get to set up their blocks and make defensive players take bad angles when they miscalculate the change of direction.
    I’m not sure why teams don’t test this instead of straight line speed.
    This is also true of fighter jets. In the Korean War the Russian Mig-15/17 was faster and could turn tighter than the US F-86 Sabre, but the US jet racked up a remarkable 17-1 kill ratio because it could change from one maneuver (loop to a roll) to another much faster than the MIG, so US pilots simply outmaneuvered their MIG counterparts.

  19. I_Am_Spartacus says: Feb 22, 2010 10:44 AM

    I enjoyed reading this artice right on top of the Tebow article.

  20. Roger the Dodger says: Feb 22, 2010 10:47 AM

    Ummm. The Combine did not make Chris Johnson. It only made more people aware of him.
    The man had almost 7000 all-purpose yards in college -even after some injury issues – and ran a 10.38 100m dash. If you look at the clips of him running in college, he was something special there, too.
    The woods are full of people who can run fast, but can’t play football. Chris Johnson can do both.

  21. finsbooyah says: Feb 22, 2010 10:49 AM

    jj jones says:
    February 22, 2010 10:24 AM
    “nothing that happens this week will provide keen insight into whether men who were great college players will be good pro football players.”
    Disagree. Tell that to Chris Johnson.
    ==================================
    Did you ever see CJ play in college??? He was a freak… Trust me, the combine is NOT why he was drafted that high.

  22. Love_Boat_Scandal says: Feb 22, 2010 10:57 AM

    This unnamed source (someone from the Patriots?) was pulling a fast one on ole’ Peter King (not a difficult thing to do). I doubt his team’s draft board is 90% set on Feb. 22. If that were the case his team could take a lot of vacation between now and April 22.
    The combine does have some merit. You’re trying to predict players at the next level where guys are bigger, stronger, and faster. Just because a guy succeeds at the college level (on film) doesn’t mean he’ll continue to do so in the NFL.

  23. Citizen Strange says: Feb 22, 2010 11:19 AM

    So coaches should have never used stop watches to evaluate football players in the entire history of football?
    Guys like Pop Warner, Knute Rockne and Jock Sutherland shouldn’t have used stop watches?
    Or only modern day coaches that have tape available shouldn’t use stop watches?
    Seems like an idotic assertation.

  24. aDickRunsThisSite says: Feb 22, 2010 11:25 AM

    Florio and Peter King.
    Just a fab combo dont you folks think.
    one is the pond
    the other is the stuff that floats on top of the pond.
    you decide whos who.
    there are only a few NFL writers who know less than Peder King.
    Apparently Mike Florio wants to be included in that sparse company.
    News flash
    you are there already Mike. take a breather now

  25. Beastie Bills says: Feb 22, 2010 11:28 AM

    What about the point of making sure the players haven’t let themselves go to hell the last few months?
    I think it shows teams that a guy has some maturity to show up in shape and ready to run. And to show up and not pop for weed.
    Cough Percy Harvin Cough.

  26. Jonrox says: Feb 22, 2010 11:29 AM

    I think the anti-combine sentiment is overdone these days and people overreact to failures of workout wonders. The tests at the combine reveal proxy information about the players’ on-field abilities. E.g., a player who is “football fast” should run a pretty good 40, and a player who is “football strong” should be able to bench press quite a bit.
    Obviously there are going to be good gm’s and football types (like Fisher) who try to put appropriate stock in the results, and then there are others who are too wowed by non-football numbers and make irrational decisions. It’s all about keeping things in perspective

  27. The Troof says: Feb 22, 2010 11:31 AM

    Until they start broadcasting the Wonderlic test live on the NFL Network (think, the National Spelling Bee that’s on ESPN), then this scounting combine is irrevelant.
    You want entertaining?!?!? I’ll put up Chris Johnson against Devin Hester any old day – and not in the 40 either.

  28. theroc5156 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:39 AM

    I see your Chris Johnson and raise you a Mike Mamula

  29. lawofmurphy says: Feb 22, 2010 11:42 AM

    Am I the only one who thinks the shuttle time is a better indicator of NFL success than the 40? The 40 time is basically worthless (as has been pointed out) because it’s rare for any player to run 40 yards in a straight line on a given play.
    But stopping, starting, accelerating, turning on a dime…that translates better to the games.

  30. Reasonable says: Feb 22, 2010 11:42 AM

    Do you people realise how much work scouting 300 plus players can be? You can look at all the film in the world on these guys but you have to factor in they are not going up against NFL players. So film is great, but will only take you so far. There will be guys that didn’t get invited to the combine that have great NFL careers. Thats how in-exact this thing is. You have about 500 to 600 kids trying to get a job that only has 150 openings. Every tool you can use will only help.

  31. rraider says: Feb 22, 2010 12:14 PM

    What is wrong with the combine……………………so I read your resume but dont I need to still have the interview……………if for no other reason than I want to look you in the eye……………….what the hell else do these guys have to do?

  32. Bucket says: Feb 22, 2010 12:24 PM

    Chris Johnson… Absolutely! But how about guys like Dwayne Jarrett. He was considered a first round pick by a lot of people pre-combine. After running a 4.6 and not showing much strength a lot of teams took another look at him and moved him out of the first round. had he run a 4.4 he would have been a first round pick. The combine showed that he didn’t have the speed to get separation at the NFL level. or at the very least, that teams should be concerned and go back and look at tape a little closer. It also helps get more accurate times. Remember Beanie Wells ran a 4.3 at his pro day but a 4.6(?) at the combine. If we didn’t have a combine GMs would have to go off pro-day times. How many prospects suddenly run a 4.3, high 4.2??? The combine has a lot of value in differentiating between closely related prospects and getting more accurate info, but certainly their performance on the field is worth “more” but that doesn’t mean the combine isn’t “important!”

  33. Dan says: Feb 22, 2010 12:30 PM

    Mike Mamula gets a bad rap. He has 31.5 career sacks in only 5 seasons. Has 2 seasons of 8 and 8.5 sacks.
    Why does he get taken as a bust… He was every bit as good as AJ Hawk or better. Better than Bob Cousineau, Andray Bruce etc etc etc.
    Mike Mamula was NOT A BUST

  34. Nuckinfutz says: Feb 22, 2010 12:55 PM

    That is so obviously Bill Parcells. He’s said the same thing several times before. That’s why he rarely spends much time at the scouting combine.
    He’s said on several occasions that if you took the stopwatches away from everyone at the combine, half of them wouldn’t know what they were looking at.
    He just doesn’t his name used because he doesn’t want to let everyone know that his draft board is already set.

  35. steelerer says: Feb 22, 2010 1:06 PM

    Before we give credit to fisher about Chris Johnson, wasnt fisher also the one who drafted Chris Henry in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft based off his combine.

  36. rbais2 says: Feb 22, 2010 1:11 PM

    Tape may be the best, if not one of the best tools. However, there are lesser known or overshadowed guys who need the stage to show that they have ability and deserve a roster spot by doing positional drills. Plus, the combine puts healthy pressure on these athletes to keep their bodies in great physical condition.
    The combine is not just about 40 yard dashes, vertical jumps, and bench press reps.
    There is football involved. If there was no football involved, why are those pigskin-based products inside Lucas Oil Stadium?

  37. steelerer says: Feb 22, 2010 1:13 PM

    Nuckinfutz says:
    February 22, 2010 12:55 PM
    That is so obviously Bill Parcells. He’s said the same thing several times before. That’s why he rarely spends much time at the scouting combine.
    He’s said on several occasions that if you took the stopwatches away from everyone at the combine, half of them wouldn’t know what they were looking at.
    He just doesn’t his name used because he doesn’t want to let everyone know that his draft board is already set.
    —————————————–
    thats why it was between Jake Long and Vernon Gholston for the #1 overall pick in 2008 draft. Ya that combine cant fool the best.

  38. steelerer says: Feb 22, 2010 1:14 PM

    Nuckinfutz says:
    February 22, 2010 12:55 PM
    That is so obviously Bill Parcells. He’s said the same thing several times before. That’s why he rarely spends much time at the scouting combine.
    He’s said on several occasions that if you took the stopwatches away from everyone at the combine, half of them wouldn’t know what they were looking at.
    He just doesn’t his name used because he doesn’t want to let everyone know that his draft board is already set.
    —————————————–
    thats why it was between Jake Long and Vernon Gholston for the #1 overall pick in 2008 draft. Ya that combine cant fool the best.

  39. AZ Red Bird says: Feb 22, 2010 1:15 PM

    I hate the Combine, I hate the fools that follow it every day, I hate the fools that yell to draft a player because of their combine numbers, I hate how the NFL Network will promote it as if it does matter, I hate how NFL coaches have to show up for this nonsense.
    The medical eval and the interviews are all that matter. They don’t need to be televised and it’s only on because it fills up empty space.
    Gimps watch it…yes you are a gimp if you are watching the combine.

  40. brasho says: Feb 22, 2010 1:15 PM

    While there are workout warriors that seemingly up their stock with great workouts, I think the combine really weeds out the guys that aren’t as athletic and could conceivably struggle because of it. People chose to ignore the facts that Peter Warrick couldn’t bust more than a 4.6 when he worked out years ago but when he got to the league he was nothing more than a nice little slot WR.
    There are tons of players that have workouts that are seemingly better than they played in college and turn out to be pretty good NFL players (Keith Bullock) but probably even more players that did great in college and then had poor workouts and fizzled out in the NFL.

  41. CapsLockKey says: Feb 22, 2010 1:35 PM

    Combine has it’s uses. It gives the guys from the smaller schools a chance to show what they can do.

  42. DeathByPurple says: Feb 22, 2010 1:44 PM

    The best thing about the combine is when they in vite small school players that don’t get as many looks by scouts. These under the radar players “competing” in the drills with their big school mates proving they belong in the same company makes the combine worth watching. All the better when their draft stock rockets up. Although, getting sleepers by Mel Kiper are like trying to exploit the weakness in the deathstar.

  43. mr_snrub says: Feb 22, 2010 3:55 PM

    The 40 yard dash is used primarily to determine the quickness of a player or explosion within the first couple of steps. Scouts are well aware that players typically don’t run in straight lines, but they’ve decided it’s a better tool for objective speed comparison/analysis than what you proposed.
    Remind us again what that is.

  44. Play4Blood says: Feb 22, 2010 6:36 PM

    Only people who don’t follow college football needed to see Chris Johnson at the Combine to want him on their team. The kid was absolutely electric as both a runner and receiver. He could have just as easily been a Pro Bowl WR, and you didn’t need a 40 time to see that.
    The casual observer was introduced to Chris Johnson at the Combine. NFL Scouts knew who he was long before then.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!