Joe’s Sport Court: NFL Combine

Joseph Pugliese

The NFL combine is a huge process of the draft for NFL teams.  With many prospects have rising and falling in the combine process.
Forty-yard dash times, vertical leaps and other drills have been developed to try to get an accurate measure of the talent of individuals.
But the question still remains, does it all work?  Can a person’s performance in the combine really accurately show how they develop into pros?
I think the answer is mixed. Numbers show that the draft combine and process as a whole does work.
There are more hall of famers from the first three rounds of the draft than any other rounds.
However, if we are looking to the more recent numbers and as far as pro bowls are concerned the numbers would tend to show there is more disappointment from the first rounders than there necessarily is success.
Excluding last year’s draft, in the last 10 years there have been 319 first round picks.  Ninety-eight of them have made the pro bowl, about 31 percent, and only 55 have made multiple pro bowls, only 17 percent.
Only nine of the 30 quarterbacks drafted since 2002 in the first round have made the pro bowl.
The best position for measurable success with regards to draft order seems to be the tight end position having seven of 13 first-round picks turn into pro bowlers.
So the evidence points to success of the first round overall but as far as where they are taken there is no correlation that says top five become better than the next five taken.
So the draft process works to a point, but there are things like heart, adrenaline, work ethic, off-field conduct and other such intangibles that can never be fully measured and accounted for that affect player’s performance vastly in game time situations as opposed to the combine with no pads on and less pressure.
One of the improvements that the combine could make is to measure players with pads on. They play the game with pads and react differently in full uniforms with the added weight and less flexibility, which can greatly change the test results.
So I believe the combine works and helps but it is not a flawless system, however a good  or bad combine will not automatically equate to pro success or failure.