Tuesday, March 07, 2006

NFL Combine

For the second straight year, the NFL network showed footage live from the NFL combine. As a sports junkie, I watched several hours of coverage. Last year, it was rough and they were learning how to cover the 'event', but this year was much better. More drills were shown and more players were shown. Two things I wanted to comment on were the 40 and the lessons I learned from the RB drills coverage.

The 40
This might be the most overblown metric ever devised to measure potential in any athlete. The commentators constantly reminded people how TO ran a slow 40 or someone else ran uninspiring 40s yet still thrive in the league. The secret probably is 'quickness' is different than track speed, and that football pads slow down people more than others. On a personal note, when I ran sprints playing football without pads I would be the 5th or 6th fastest guy out of 40. Then, the season would start and pads were worn. In pads, I finished first time after time in full gear sprints. This is called 'football speed'. While the 40 is overblown, it has soem important components.

1. Acceleration - How long does it take for someone to get to top speed? This is measured during the 40. People are always looking for that burst through the hole or the acceleration to catch a breakaway runner.
2. 'Long Speed' - The 40 time. Can they break away from the pack and take it to the house? This is very important for WRs and CBs, then RBs.
3. Effort - Does the prospect look like they are giving it all they got? Is he false starting? Small things like that can help GMs spot the next Tedy Bruschi, the gamer who is better live than on paper.

The 40 was fun to watch as it was just prospect after prospect, time after time. You started to get a feel for who really was fast and what kind of quickness people have. Sinorice Moss was so fast out of the blocks that you could see him doing the Steve Smith or Santana Moss route with him in motion and then busting out the fly pattern or deep post and blowing past the CB.

The RB Drills
These were impressive to watch as they had the backs take handoffs and then run through a series of obstacles, makes designated cuts and finish a play. It was a riot to see prospects who were just told to finish no matter what not finish a play. It was also great to see players explosion from the handoff to the hole and over the obstacles. You can see the players who might be fast but do not have that burst through the hole that stays open only so long in the NFL. I can see how this drill would give you a good idea of what kind of instincts and raw skills a RB has. With the designated cut, you got to see a RB's change of direction ability. Joseph Addai and Maurice Drew were the best backs that i saw as far as change of direction and body control during those cuts. Impressive, but that does not change Maurice Drew's height of 5 foot 6. I do think Addai will be a decent pro because SEC RBs do well in the NFL if recent history is a guide.

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