Due to the flurry of free agent signings and trades, the NFL Scouting Combine, which ended last week seems to have been pushed under the rug. A lot of interesting news came out of Indianapolis last week, but was it all worthwhile and did anyone actually up their draft stock as a result of the workouts, compared to their bodies of work out on the football field?
Scouts raise their eyebrows when a great 40 yard dash time is displayed. However, we've now seen some huge discrepancies between the unofficial and official times. USC safety Taylor Mays ran a scorching unofficial 40-yard dash, but when the time was considered official, it went from scorching to just fast. Did that hurt, help or not change his draft status? If the 4.24 unofficial time had stuck, it probably would have perked up the interest of some NFL teams, but the 4.43 official time just sent the scouts back to their notebooks. Mays' play at USC should tell a lot more about his NFL potential than any of the results from the Combine.
The same goes for anyone else who was invited to Indy last week, regardless of their position. Watching the offensive linemen run the 40-yard dash is not only a waste of time, but disturbing when we have to see former Alabama offensive tackle Andre' Smith run it with his shirt off. The Baltimore Ravens drafted offensive tackle Michael Oher with their first pick in the draft even though he did not finish in the top ten of offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash.
Prior to the 2009 NFL Draft, I really lobbied for the Ravens to grab North Carolina WR Hakeem Nicks, but his 40-yard dash time at the Combine was average at best. However, there is a huge difference between straight line speed and "football" speed, as Nicks enjoyed a fine rookie season with the New York Giants while speedster and top ten draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey was gobbled up by the Oakland Raiders and spent a good part of the season on the bench.
The Ravens did take a couple of players that had great 40-yard dash times in 2009. Third round pick Lardarius Webb posted the top cornerback dash (4.46), ahead of highly-touted first round pick, Vontae Davis. Virginia RB Cedric Peerman ran a 4.45 forty, tops among the running back class that feature first round picks Donald Brown's 4.51(Indianapolis Colts) and Chris "Beanie" Wells' 4.59 (Arizona Cardinals). The Ravens let Peerman go at the end of Training Camp, although he was picked up by the Cleveland Browns.
Maryland native and former Florida cornerback Joe Haden is projected to be one of the top ten picks in April's NFL Draft, but his 40-yard dash time was pedestrian at best, even disappointing to Haden himself. However, that should not deter NFL teams, with the Cleveland Browns looking to grab Haden in many Mock drafts. His example is a classic one that should have most NFL Draft Boards largely unchanged as a results of the workouts at the Combine last week. The only guys who might improve their chances are the little known players who otherwise might have gone unnoticed except for their excellent results in Indianapolis. That might affect the later rounds of the draft, but doubtful will they sway teams to make significant changes to their targets in April.
For more recap on the NFL Scouting Combine, plus all of the recent signings and trades, check out NFL.com.