NFL Combine running wrong kinds of tests

Joe Robbins

Pardon Rodney Ketterlen for thinking that using a test which lets a prospect run 40 yards without a football while wearing next to nothing in equipment in perfect conditions without a care in the world isn't the best way to evaluate football talent.

Editor's note: Rodney Ketterlen is providing his unique insight and football-related scouting experience through the NFL Scouting Combine. His service, Ketterlen Super Scouting, provided insight not offered from other places before the NFL filed a cease-and-desist notice. He is writing for BTSC during the NFL Scouting Combine.

It's no secret, the NFL loves year-round headlines. A football season has 17 regular season weeks, three playoff weeks and a Super Bowl. Yet, the NFL manages to stretch these 21 weeks into about 50 every year because they love headlines.

The NFL machine rides the wave of success and excellence during the season, as it focuses on roughly 12 teams who set themselves apart during the season and have a chance to be crowned Super Bowl champion.

But for the other 30 weeks or so during the year, the NFL survives on failure. At the end of the regular season, 20 teams have failed. At the end of the playoffs, another 11 have failed. And those failures drive headlines from the time the season ends for every team until training camp opens. From firing coaches and front-office executives to rebuilding rosters, the NFL loves failure because it creates parody and headlines.

The reason the NFL loves failure is because if every team was good at their jobs, the worst team in the league would be 7-9, and the best team would be 9-7. What's sexy about a week 12 Monday Night Football match-up between the two best team's in the league, the 6-5 San Diego Chargers versus the 5-5-1 Cleveland Browns?

But the biggest failure the NFL loves is the NFL Draft, supplemented by the NFL Combine. And at Ketterlen Super Scouting, we don't fail, and the NFL has tried to silence us ever since.

In 2000, when the Internet was really taking off, we launched our first website, free to the public. The site provided ratings, analysis and the do's and don'ts of player evaluations. Already on the NFL's radar for our 1998 campaign against Curtis Enis even being drafted, we weren't sure how the NFL would react.

After concluding our yearly testing, we determined one player stood above all others, and two more would have Hall of Fame type careers. When the analysis was released, the NFL used its mega-media-marketing-machine to trash our site, even spreading rumors our head scout and my business partner, C.L. Andrew, only played Division III football.

The site quickly fell into oblivion before the draft, and eventually we had to settle a lawsuit the NFL filed against us (stipulations from the lawsuit forbids me to go into too many details about it but the gist of it is stop showing the public how stupid some of the teams are).

I will say, and I don't care if it gets us in trouble, our No. 1 ranked player in 2000 was drafted 199th overall, our second ranked player was drafted 13th overall, and our third-ranked player was drafted 19th overall. And yes, one is a future Hall-of-Famer and two had Hall-of-Fame type careers.

Despite being banned from the public eye, we did enter the private sector and offer our scouting service exclusively to NFL teams that would pay for it. Teams could subscribe to the service initially through a foreign country, and eventually through more legal means the past few years.

And we currently are employed by six NFL teams.

The reasons for our success can't totally be revealed, as it would compromise what we are doing for certain NFL teams. But let's just say when certain players run sub 4.4 40 times, we aren't going to be the blogger who races to the computer to move said player up 16 slots in the 7-round mock draft he first posted in February.

Pardon us for thinking that using a test which lets a prospect run 40 yards without a football while wearing next to nothing in equipment in perfect conditions without a care in the world isn't the best way to evaluate football talent.

Instead, our running backs are going to be evaluated in the land-mine run (they aren't real land mines, but they pack a punch); and our offensive lineman are going to compete in the bathroom destruction drill instead of the bench press (we give them a sledgehammer and say go).

Laugh at our testing if you want, but ask every Viking fan if they are laughing about picking Troy Williamson seventh overall in the 2005 draft after he ran a great 40 time. Little did they know he received a seventh-round grade from us when he was the only player to fail the baby toss (players are thrown a number of footballs in rapid succession and unknowingly, we mix in a baby, usually a doll, to test the players reaction to a life and death situation, much like making that clutch catch in the playoffs).

Have you ever heard of Justin Harrell? Neither has anyone outside of Green Bay, but he was the Packers 16th overall pick in 2006. Harrell received a do-not draft grade that year from us when during the quicksand run, he immediately sunk, much like his NFL career as a defensive tackle (side-note, the highest rated player in that run in 2006, Marshawn Lynch).

We could go on and on with stories like this; how measuring toe-grip is more useful than a standing broad jump, or how elbow dexterity can win a team a Super Bowl. However, the threat of additional NFL litigation isn't worth it.

Instead, we invite you to check out Part III of our series in the coming days, where we will reveal exclusively to readers of this fine web site some of the players we will be recommending to our NFL team subscribers this year.

Until then, sit back and enjoy the Summit of Failure, or NFL Combine if you prefer. And don't bother looking for us, we were banned in 1997. Instead, we will be watching the results and eagerly checking Tom's Dallas Cowboys Blog to see who moved up in the fourth round of his mock draft.

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