I Have a Case of Combine Craziness


My NFL addiction is getting out of control. I’ve been watching the Combine on television for the last two days and I’m watching it now. As I write this, Whitney Mercilus just ran his 40 yard dash, and you can bet your last dollar I’ll be watching it tomorrow also. The NFL has structured its offseason so that fans, which I’ll remind you is short for fanatic, like myself can witness the everything the NFL does.

The Combine in Indianapolis officially kicks off the biggest event the NFL has in the offseason – the draft. The fact that I watch the Combine is something that my family keeps to itself out of embarrassment. “Your Dad is watching what?” is the kind of comment that my kids would rather not have to explain to other people.
My wife just rolls her eyes and says things like “Is THAT on again?” knowing there is no cure for my addiction to pro football.

The offseason is not for every football fan. A lot of fans don’t pay attention to the league once the season ends with the Super Bowl in early February. It takes a slightly deranged person like myself to get up early on a Saturday morning so I can watch a bunch of beefy guys run around in shorts. The fascination with the Combine is born out of my obsession with the Draft. I really think my love of the Draft is a result of the Lions sucking forever and always being hopeful that THIS was the magical draft that was going to turn it all around. That draft came in 2009; notice that we’re not picking in the top five this year.

The reason the Combine exists is to get the correct numbers on the players. If you went by the College press handouts, you would think that every player is the next Joe Montana. The Cleveland Browns or whichever team ends up trading for the number two pick probably sighed in relief that Robert Griffin III is actually 6′-2″. He was rumored to be only 6 feet tall. Thanks to the combine, we know the truth.

The smart general managers know how to not get too carried away from the perfect physique or the outrageous numbers some players post. It always comes back to watching the player on film, not in the weight room. Sometimes the clubs get fooled by the flashy Combine numbers and they waste a first rounder on someone who should have been drafted much lower. Vernon Gholston, picked 6th by the Jets in 2008, is perfect example of a guy who’s built like a Greek god but plays like the Michelin man.

Some numbers can be alarming, like the 18 bench press reps Peter Konz did. Konz, the Center from Wisconsin who I would like the Lions to pick in the first round, could have hurt his chances of being drafted in the first round altogether with such a low number. But there’s another side to that coin. If Konz can handle Mike Martin of Michigan, who pumped off 36 reps, then he must be one hell of a technician. You can always get stronger. I have to go now, the D lineman are about to see how far they can jump.