The NFL Draft can be one of the most entertaining aspects about the entire sports calendar. It’s a like a soap opera/reality show for football lovers. There’s happiness, sadness, drama and comedy. You’re heavily invested to see what your team does, what their rivals do and where you’re favorite college players go. The entire draft process can be fascinating but it seems really flawed.
Leading up to the draft can be a little bit slow though if you are not a draftnik that’s into all the combine madness and pro day shenanigans. The combine, also affectionately dubbed the “Underwear Olympics”, has been both a launching pad for prospects that perform well and a hindrance if you don’t perform. The same goes with pro days.
Many people have argued how much these workouts should be used to evaluate a prospect and I’m of the group who thinks that too much weight is carried with these workouts. A combine performance catapulted Vernon Gholston into the top 10 and dropped Richard Sherman into the 5th round. I know that’s not the only thing that keeps players from going high or low in the draft but there are too many examples of a combine performance sending a player up draft boards without them showing that ability on the field. Darius Hayward-Bey, Adam Archuleta and Charles Rogers come to mind as their value was boosted because of combine numbers.
This year the combine and pro day workouts have affected 2 particular prospects. Teddy Bridgewater and Anthony Barr were two prospects who were looked at as locks for top 10 picks, possibly top 5 even. For one reason or another Barr has dropped to a mid to late first round pick and some have Bridgewater dropping out of the first round entirely. Despite both having great on field production and don’t seem to have any character concerns they dropping. I understand Bridgewater has a small frame and that worries some but I’m sure he can add muscle to it just like everyone else does in the NFL. RG3 isn’t huge but he was drafted #2. I’m not saying Bridgewater has that much talent but he’s pretty good. I know Barr hasn’t played defense that long and is a raw prospect but Richard Sherman played wide receiver in college and that worked out fine. He worked out better at his pro day but still is projected as a mid rounder.
With pass rusher as important now as they’ve ever been, someone with his talent shouldn’t make it out the top 10. Yes he’s a project but he can come in right now and make an impact rushing the QB on passing downs a la Aldon Smith as a rookie. And with quarterback being the most important position on the field and you have one that’s been productive at a high level and collectively saw as the most “pro ready” QB in the draft, the fact that he’s being dropped because of missing passes against air, as easy as that should be, is a slightly ridiculous. I’m not saying completely overlook the combine and pro days because they serve a specific purpose like the interviews, medical exams and on field activities but it causes people to over think. You never want to be the GM that drafts busts because of combine numbers but you also don’t want to pass up on a future star because of them either. You have to trust your scouts and your board but don’t over think it or you’ll end up drafting Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree.