Frank’s Sport Court: NFL Combine

Frank Passalacqua, Sports Editor

The NFL Combine is one of my favorite off-season events, second to the draft of course.

Each year, a selected number of NCAA players are invited to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana to put their skills on display to every organization in the league. With 333 total athletes invited, they will all go through numerous drills and physical tests in their chance to stand out from the rest.

Even though NFL scouts already have their eyes on a few names, the combine gives them a first-hand account of how the player really performs. These scouts study college film every second of their time, but nothing compares to watching the players one-on-one.

The combine is broken down into four days, with each position group having their own day to perform.

With every mock draft available today, they will all drastically change immediately after the combine. This is because a player’s stock can rise or fall, depending on how well they have prepared for this event.

There are already certain players that people who follow football know are first-round material. If they show up to the combine 10 pounds heavier and sloppy at their position, you can bet they will fall to the middle of the draft.

Take Vontaze Burfict for example. Last year, he was rated as the best linebacker in the entire draft class. Burfict showed up at the combine 15 pounds heavier and did not perform well at all in his drills. His stock dropped from being the best at his position, to not even getting drafted.

This shows how crucial the event is to a player’s career. Fortunately for Burfict, he was later signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, got himself back into top shape, and was one of the best rookie linebackers. Granted, a situation like that does not always result in a success story, but it does happen.

However, the combine is not a sure-sign of how a player will make the transition into the NFL. In last year’s combine, linebacker Mychal Kendricks out of Cal was a late-round draft projection prior to the event. He shocked everyone by putting up the best numbers in the combine out of everyone in his position, and was taken in the second-round by the Philadelphia Eagles. In the pros, he did not stand out.

Those are just two examples out of over 300. It is a great opportunity for the athletes to shine, in hopes for a good draft selection. Ulitmately, that’s what the combine is great for- the draft.

Every person in that stadium has their eyes on every player invited. This is when teams start building a draft board, in hopes to snag a gem that no one else saw. This year, it will be held on Feb. 23 to the 26th.