The 2020 NFL Combine has came and went, and all the coaches and talent evaluators are heading home to try and decipher what they have just witnessed. During the four days of what is often sarcastically referred to as the Underwear Olympics, they have meticulously taken a mountain of notes about each draft prospect obtained through various athletic drills, health screenings, and interview sessions.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the Combine is the opportunity to see how the prospects handle the biggest job interview of their young lives. With every movement and moment so heavily scrutinized, the pressure is immense. You are often standing alone, every eye in the stadium on you, expecting you to perform to the best of your ability in this unnatural environment. Will you meet the challenge head on, and rise to the occasion: or will you succumb to the pressure and falter?
All week we heard members of the NFL fraternity recollect about their memories of the NFL Combine, and they were honestly mostly negative. Even those that performed admirably during their combine; successfully solidifying or improving their draft status, many still recalled how much they detested the experience.
Regrettably, it seems some of the youngsters are missing the point. Every potential draftee that meets the criteria and receives an invitation has the same opportunity; the opportunity to compete. To measure themselves against the very best that year's draft has to offer at their position. To challenge themselves to do their absolute best under the most difficult of situations. That is the heart of any athletic endeavor, the desire to compete.
Admittedly, some of the drills the prospects are tasked to perform during the Combine offer little insight into their ability to perform on the field. One example would be asking the offensive line behemoths to run the forty yard dash. Other than the ten yard splits, what actual priceless information is gathered from watching them rumble and stumble a distance they will seldom be required to do during any football game?
I actually have a suggestion on how to improve the ever popular forty yard dash. It was suggested on air during the wall to wall coverage of the Combine that participants be allowed to run the drill against their fellow piers. I am not actually sure how that would work in all practicality, but I have a far more feasible suggestion.
In addition to listing each forty time at it's conclusion, include the MPH or TSA (Top Speed Achieved) for each forty ran. Ladies and gentlemen, we have the technology at our disposal. You see it each week of the season, when multiple sites like the NFL Network list the top five MPHs achieved by the players at any point during the previous week's games. Tyreek Hill, and other members of the Kansas City Chiefs track squad, regularly top the list.
So why do I feel implementing this newer technology will make the information garnered during the forty yard dash portion of the Combine that much more meaningful? Because many players struggle greatly to rapidly come off the line in step and on balance, even with all the specific training prior to the Combine. The end result being their forty time is not an accurate assessment of their playing speed. The top MPH achieved during their forty would be a better reflection of their actual playing speed.
Think about it, how many times a game does any player get in a starters position and suddenly sprint as fast as they can, in a straight line, unencumbered? I assert that the TSA stat would prove far more beneficial.
One more suggestion based on a personal observation. Have the participants run a series of wind sprints at half speed prior to running the forty. Let me explain my thought process. Each combine we see a plethora of hamstring injuries. These can be devastating for any fringe prospect, preventing them from participate in any of the remaining drills, especially when you take into consideration that the forty yard dashes start off the on the field work each day.
Watching the prospects warm up preparing to run, you will see a series of squats, power jumps, and running in place movements. What you won't see is the glimmer of sweat on any of the young men. Now I realize these guys are all in excellent physical condition, and some would have to work pretty strenuously to work up a sweat, but it is a absolutely critical aspect of being able to perform to the best of your ability, safely. I believe that utilizing the wind sprints could help reduce the total number of hamstring injuries suffered at the Combine each year.
Remember, all of my brilliant ideas are currently in the patent phase, so don't nobody go trying to steal them.
In conclusion, the NFL Combine continues to grow as the league continues to fine tune the process, improving the experience for both the participants and the fans. But things can always be better, and the Combine can continue to improve.
All they have to do is give me a call.