The NFL Combine is almost here for the Detroit Lions. What do they have to do to keep the event in perspective? There are lots of things to look out for.
For the Detroit Lions, the search continues for a handful of impactful prospects that could possibly change the trajectory of the franchise for years to come. And one of the biggest events of the offseason that will allow to Lions to find such players kicks off next Tuesday, the NFL Scouting Combine.
One knock on the Combine, aside from the lack of physical contact (to judge prospects who play an extremely physical sport), is that it is possible to fool scouts with pure athleticism. A strong showing at the event, which is held annually at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, can change a prospect’s draft stock immensely if their times and results are in an elite range, especially.
Mike Mamula was a famous example of a workout warrior who impressed scouts so much that he jumped from being a roughly third-round pick up to being drafted seventh overall. Mamula had a good college career at Boston College registering 24.0 sacks in his three years leading up to the 1995 draft. He wowed scouts with 28 repetitions of 225 pounds, a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, and ran a 4.58-second forty-yard dash at 250 pounds, according to CBS Sports.
Mamula played for the Philadelphia Eagles for five years and was productive, notching 31 sacks. However, his legacy as an underachiever is lasting. The former Boston College Eagle attributed much of his success from practicing the drills many times prior to the combine, which is a common practice among draftees in 2019.
How the Detroit Lions should view combine numbers
Test times or results for all drills give every participant a chance to be compared on a common scale. Since some prospects play in Power 5 conferences against many other future NFL players, while some rarely see another talent with pro aspirations. This is another reason that college all-star games like the Reece’s Senior Bowl are so important for smaller school participants, it is their chance to play among many pro hopefuls.
On the other side of the spectrum, players like Teez Tabor played their career in a Mecca for college football, Gainesville, Florida. Tabor played lots of games versus top talent and then turned in poor Combine times. His athleticism was poor in most respects, including a pedestrian 4.62 forty-yard dash.
Tabor remains the largest blemish on Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s record. Quinn infamously stated that he watched more tape (game film) of Tabor than any other prospect ever. Obviously, he should’ve paid a bit more attention to Tabor’s low athleticism prior to selecting him with their second-round pick.
Both Tabor and Mamula underscore the importance of keeping the results in perspective. You should watch how well a player played in college, even if his former system isn’t exactly a pro system. On the other hand, you shouldn’t overvalue a small number of workouts over what tape says about a player.