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Fat Guys Running in Shorts: Combine Edition


By: Joe D.

Why is it breaking news to find out that there are speculations about Jimmy Clausen being 2 inches shorter than previously reported?  Other than being prohibited from riding the new roller-coaster, Gigantus (the only roller coaster made by giants for giants), I can’t see a reason why that would prohibit him from being capable of playing in the NFL.  This story and many like it will be broadcast live in high definition on the NFL Network.  Many may assume I believe 20+ hours of fat guys running in shorts is ridiculous; even more so, someone sitting down to watch fat guys in running in shorts.

Not so fast.  I love the combine.  It is a chance to peer through the white noise and view the soon to be NFL player at his most vulnerable.  Every player at this stage of their career is on a Hall of Fame path.  Unfortunately, every player tells the media that they play hard, they are a hard worker, and they will be a credit to the franchise that takes them.  No one every says they will be a fat slob and they are just looking for one big payday.  The NFL draft is the most optimistic weekend in all of football.  Your team may have just drafted the cornerstones to a dynasty, and the combine is a chance to find out their back-story before your friends.

We all know about Florida’s Tim Tebow’s long windmill like throwing motion, USC’s Stafon Johnson‘s neck injury while working out, and Oregon’s LeGarrette Blounts lack of composure, common sense, and the sucker punch.  But do ya’ll know that projected 3-4 linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri) has one of the biggest mouths in the draft; he simply can’t stop talking smack.  Tight end Mickey Shuler (Penn State) is the son of a former NFL player, and it isn’t Heath.  Guard Mitch Petrus missed the entire 2008 season for Boston College due to academics (afterall BC is the Harvard of… southwest Boston suburbs?).  Tackle Bryan Bulaga (Iowa)had a viral infection in his thyroid which affected his endurance and play in 2009.  Tiny snippets about the player unfold: their background, their favorite color, whether they are a patient runner, how good are their feet, what injuries occurred during their senior year which will affect their draft position.

After the first 2 rounds, many of the draftee’s are all but anonymous to the average fan.  Even after watching the combine, many remain so. Though giving the Mercutios and Tybalts your focus just enhances the marathon that is the draft.

I fully grant that many of the drills shed light on a players athleticism, and for the most part are worthless.  Jerry Rice ran a 4.6+ forty time at the combine and he was an unstoppable force.  Ditto with Emmith Smith and his forty time of 4.6.  Jimmy Johnson labored over film and saw what Florida fans were treated to, long scoring runs.  The statistics don’t tell the tale, but rather they are the corner pieces to the puzzle.

In 2008, I was guilty of undervaluing Felix Jones.  I was a proponent of Rashard Mendenhal, though I only had influence over my wife.  They ran the same forty time – go with the player who is more than a complementary back.  Thank God Jerry Jones isn’t my wife, because Felix Jones is every bit as fast on the field as he was reported to be.

The combine isn’t a predictor of success.  Jay Ratliff wasn’t invited to the combine, and Tony Romo was only invited as a warm arm to throw to the WR’s.  Meanwhile golden boys talked about how they were going to WOW the world at their pro-day.  Parcells and Co. noticed Romo’s quick release and they were intrigued.  If Romo doesn’t attend the Combine, maybe Sean Payton still scouts Romo because of his ties to Eastern Illinois. It is indisputable, those few days in Indianapolis affected the direction the Cowboys are presently pointed.  And just maybe, that direction is Super Bowl bound.