With the 2009 NFL Combine getting ready to kick off this weekend, hundreds of players are currently in Indianapolis getting prepared to jump high, run fast, and throw hard.
Scouts for all 32 NFL teams will be intently watching to see which prospects showcase their talents the best, and which fall flat and disappoint.
The NFL combine is the start of a long journey for these young men. Players across the country gather to dazzle NFL teams and to boost their draft status. Post combine, some players are heralded as improving their stock; others are deemed to be the combine goats.
Regardless of who runs the fastest or jumps the highest, it should be said up front–do not fall in love with the measurables.
Sure, it’s easy to do. A running back projected to go in the third round runs a 4.3 forty yard dash and showcases unique agility and an ability to catch the football.
Ofter, these players will be regarded as “great athletes” by Todd McShay, Mel Kiper, and many other pundits.
That’s not to say that the combine cannot showcase an otherwise unknown talent for the entire league to see. Players come in and have great success in the league despite limited opportunities in college and great combine and pro day workouts.
But I keep thinking back to the 2005 draft. All the talk was about which running back would go off the board first–Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, or Ronnie Brown.
Brown went to the combine and ripped it up. Ran a great time, excelled in the drills, and looked to have an unique combination of speed and power. Brown improved his draft status, and was selected as the second overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.
Now, Brown is a solid back in the league. Solid. I wouldn’t say great by any stretch. He shares time with Ricky Williams, which is fine, as this is a popular trend in the league.
With that said, Brown has never had more than ten rushing touchdowns in his pro career. He gained 1,000+ yards just once. And while his average per carry is solid, he’s not an every down back. Per year, he carries the ball about 220 times every year.
As a comparison, Adrian Peterson of the Vikings carried the ball 368 times in 2008 for almost 1,800 yards. Peterson also shared a bit of time with Chester Taylor in the backfield. And though he had more success and a stronger body of work in college, Peterson was drafted seventh overall.
So buyer beware. If I were advising an NFL team, I would tell them that the measurables are great, but use it as a guide on draft day. Don’t live and die by the numbers these players amass as they work out in shorts and sneakers at the combine this weekend.
This NFL Wild Card weekend will have dirty birds, rookie QBs, MVPs, All-Days, Burners, Bolts and Colts. It also features all 4 home teams as underdogs — first time I’ve ever seen that. Let’s get to the picks. Short and sweet.
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals, 4:30pm EST, NBC
Line/Total: ATL -2, o/u 51
The pick: Over 51
It’ll be a shootout in the desert. The Falcons will score points because the Cardinals are 0-6 against teams who were in the top 10 in rushing (the Falcons are ranked #2 behind the Giants). Then, after a steady diet of Mike Turner and Jerious Norwood, Matt Ryan will open up the field against Arizona’s 22nd ranked pass D. On the other side, Arizona will take to the air because they are dead last in rushing, and so we’ll see the Kurt Warner show against Atlanta’s very shaky secondary. This game may also get messy with the presence of John Abraham and his 16.5 sacks. Though a lot of things point to an Atlanta win, you cannot count out Captain Kurt at home. He will go down chucking the ball to his talented trio of receivers, and if he misses, well that’s just better field position for the dirty birds. One big stat: the over is 9-1 in Arizona’s last 10 home games.
Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers, 8:00pm EST, NBC
Line/Total: IND -1, o/u 50
The pick: IND -1
The Chargers may be on a roll with 4 wins in a row to close the season, but if you look closely they were against the doormat Chiefs, lowly Raiders, and self-destructing Broncos and Bucs teams. The Colts are riding a 9-win wave themselves with quality victories over the Steelers, Patriots and a 23-20 Week 12 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm. In this matchup of two premier QBs, I’ll take Indy’s 6th ranked pass D over the 31st ranked San Diego pass D (only the Seahawks were worse). It will be close throughout, but look for the Colts to slow this game down, and finish with a vintage Peyton Manning, long, drawn-out, antsy, multi-audible, drive.
Baltimore Orioles at Miami Dolphins, 1:00pm EST, CBS
Line/Total: BAL -3, o/u 38
The pick: BAL -3
Baltimore’s D will be too much for Pennington and Miami. In their 27-13 Week 7 win over the Dolphins, the Ravens stopped the vaunted Wildcat offense allowing only 71 rush yards and forcing a pick 6 courtesy of Terrell Suggs. Look for Baltimore to bring the same defensive gameplan and challenge Pennington to go deep (not his strength) where my pick for Defensive Player of the Year, Mr. Ed Reed (and his 9 INTs), will be waiting. All rookie QB Joe Flacco has to do is his best Kerry Collins imitation and take care of the ball and make simple, low risk plays, and leave the rest to Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Suggs and company. The Dolphins’ and Pennington’s comeback story has been inspiring this year, but it ends this weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings, 4:30pm EST, FOX
Line/Total: PHI -2, o/u 41
The pick: PHI -2
If the Eagles were facing any other NFC playoff team, I might think twice about picking them because of their inconsistency and much too frequent brain farts. But against the one-dimensional Vikes, it makes it easy for D-guru Jim Johnson to scheme up ways to stop Adrian Peterson and expose the Vikings passing game. Yes, Minnesota has the top-ranked rush defense, but Philadelphia isn’t too shabby at #5. The difference is that Philly has a very efficient McNabb, who’s making the right reads of late. Also, the Eagles 3rd ranked pass defense will feast on Minny’s 25th ranked pass offense. Nothing else here other than the Eagles secondary has been swarming, and if any bit of the intensity brought against Dallas shows up, it’ll be a long day for Tavaris Jackson. Hopefully, we don’t get any of this on the sidelines.
USC’s KO of Penn State started the year off right. Straight Cash record for 2009: 1-0
Good Luck everyone.
Another weekend’s come and gone, now we all face the week. Let’s live in the past before the present and future kick our *sses.
Sam Bradford, OU QB, won the Heisman beating out Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow. Is it me or did the Heisman mean more back in the day. Maybe it’s the fact that no Heisman winner since Carson Palmer has been remotely decent in the pros. Bradford may succeed on the next leverl, but the odds are against him.
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to win exciting games. They took out Baltimore in a physical matchup that had both teams punching each other in the neck for four quarters. There may be better teams in the league, but is there a tougher team than Pittsburgh? No.
The Dysfunctional Cowboys beat the Giants in Big D. What will happen this week? Will T.O. throw another tantrum or cry or do pushups on his lawn. Quiet as kept, the FlyMaster hopes Big D disintegrates.
The Detroit Lions are still blazing that trail to an 0-16 season. Good luck fellas! This one is for history.Geico commercials have jumped the shark. My disdain for neanderthals is at an alltime high. I’m glad cro-magnon man beat out the neanderthals some 50,000 years ago.
Waking up on Saturday and not seeing football left a void that Professional Bull Riding and meaningless golf tournaments really can’t fill.
Back to the Heisman. Tebow wins the most first place votes, but comes in third? That’s ridiculous.
President Bush deserves a Heisman vote for his ability to juke Iraqi journalists out of their shoes. First of all, how did the guy even get a chance to throw the second shoe? Looks like the Secret Service doesn’t really mind some zapato hurling at the Lame Duck.
Adrian Peterson ran for 165 yards yesterday. He may not win the MVP awards, but name one player who’s better than All Day. Go ahead.
FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!