The NFL Combine is one of the most hyped-up events of the offseason. After all, it's the closest thing we get to football in the aftermath of the Super Bowl. Each year, hundreds of the best college athletes descend on Indianapolis for a week to showcase their physical skills and intangible in a series of challenges. Performing in front of all 32 NFL teams for a chance to increase their draft stock with a solid showing, a lot is undoubtedly at stake for the players. But while the analysts and scouts seem to make it out to be a big deal with around-the-clock coverage, the event might just be nothing more than a dog and pony show in the long run.
For starters, look at a list of all the former combine warriors. The prospects who have shattered combine records. It's a who's who of NFL nobodies. Kudos to topendsports for compiling the data.
|1995||4.58||Mike Mamula||Boston College linebacker|
|1999||4.24||Rondel Melendez||(WR), Eastern Kentucky|
|2000||4.32||Antwan Harris||(CB), Virginia|
|2001||4.31||Santana Moss||(WR), Miami|
|2002||4.31||Aaron Lockett||(WR), Kansas State|
|2003||4.32||Kevin Garrett||(CB), Southern Methodist|
|2004||4.33||Carlos Francis||(WR), Texas Tech|
|2006||4.30||T. Hill||(CB), Clemson|
|2007||4.30||Yamon Figurs||(WR), Kansas State. Another source has his time as 4.35, also the best of the year.|
|2011||4.28||D. Van Dyke|
|2014||4.26||Dri Archer||RB (Kent State)|
|2015||4.28||Nelson, J.J.||UAB WO|
|1999||51||Justin Ernest||(DT), Eastern Kentucky|
|2000||45||Leif Larsen||(DT), Texas-El Paso|
|2001||37||Roberto Garza||(C), Texas AM-Kingsville|
|2002||36||Scott Peters||(C), Arizona State|
|2003||38||Tony Pashos||(OT), Illinois|
|2004||42||Isaac Sopoaga||(DT), Hawaii|
|2005||43||Scott Young||(OG), BYU|
|2006||45||Mike Kudla||(DE), Ohio State|
|2007||42||Tank Tyler||(DT), North Carolina State|
|2013||38||Margus Hunt||(DE) SMU|
|38||Brandon Williams||(DT) Missouri Southern St.|
|2014||42||Bodine, Russell||North Carolina|
|1999||43.5||Jay Hinton||(RB), Morgan State|
|2001||45.0||Chris Chambers||(WR), Wisconsin|
|2002||42.0||William Green||(RB), Boston College|
|2003||42.5||Nate Burleson||(WR), Nevada|
|2005||46.0||Gerald Sensabaugh||(FS), North Carolina|
|2006||42.5||R. McIntosh||(LB), Miami|
|2013||43.0||Christine Michael||Texas A&M|
|2014||42.0||Shazier, Ryan||Ohio St.|
These are three of the popular events at the combine, yet by quickly perusing the lists, you won't find many successful NFL players who shined on the day of the Combine.
And it's not just me talking. Multiple studies have confirmed that the link between combine performance and future NFL success is virtually nonexistent. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found "no consistent statistical relationship between combine tests and professional football performance." A 2011 paper found that "the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, 20-yard shuttle, and 3 cone drill tests have limited validity in predicting future NFL performance." Finally, the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective reports that "the measurements taken at the combine do not accurately predict future performance." The only combine test that did correlate with future NFL performance were sprint tests with running backs. According the the 2011 study published in Human Performance, collegiate success and past performance were the best indicators of how a prospect would do in the NFL.
So please, ignore all of the noise about the combine next February. While the event is a nice opportunity for scouts and teams to see players in the flesh, the real research has already been done. Draft boards are built around years of game tape, and not a few minutes in Indianapolis.