Fiu's Daily Cavalcade of
The Silliness Of Recruiting ... Feb. 22
Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances ... or the obvious attempt to keep readers coming to the site on a
regular basis during the off-season.
What's your beef? ... Fire
"I met him in a hotel lobby in New York City
and he came in just from the gym and I was sitting there and I was,
like, wow. And I pretty much saw everything. The whole package." ...
I love the NFL Combine, and I'm not going to apologize.
I told a few people over the last week that my weekend, and
following Monday and Tuesday, was going to be centered around
Indianapolis and the annual comparing and contrasting of bulging young
men running around in tight spandex ... a.k.a. the NFL Combine. I was
generally greeted with the same reaction: "You have to sit through all
While the world will watch a show centering around
morbidly obese bags of jiggle who run around trying to see who can lose
the most weight, has-been celebrities who dance, or mediocre karaoke
singers competing to be the next hit on WMOM, I like watching the
workouts of some of the worlds most elite athletes.
these workouts do matter to the real world of the NFL.
some interesting tidbits and observations on what actually happened over
the first two days (more on this to come when fun is over on Tuesday
1. You say Andre Smith, I say Curtis Enis
Andre Smith isn't just some prospect for the offensive line.
This is one of the top high school prospects of all-time who lived up to
the billing, came up with a brilliant junior year, and then slipped. If
you remember, Curtis Enis was the wonderful Penn State running back who
was suspended just before the 1998 Citrus Bowl (a loss to Florida) for
accepting a suit from an agent. The Chicago Bears didn't care and took
Enis with the fifth pick in the draft, which turned out to be a bizarre
disaster. Smith missed the 2009 Sugar Bowl after having contact with an
agent, and his strange actions at the Combine have sent up more than a
few red flags. Smith will be coached on how to spin this and will turn
out to be fine when it comes to the payday, but the chance of being
taken in the top ten is probably gone now. Remember, this guy was being
thrown around as a possible No. 1 overall pick. He was my top ranked
tackle based on his production, but now he has to slip to third behind
Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe; if not further.
million-dollar Michael Crabtree foot
Work with me here. The
Texas Tech star's injured foot might have actually saved him millions of
dollars. No one's questioning whether or not Crabtree can play, the
college production is unparalleled, but the big question mark before the
foot injury was his speed. The names Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson
were being thrown around when comparing Crabtree, but the former Red
Raider isn't anywhere near the athlete Johnson is and he's not the
receiver Fitzgerald is. Remember, Johnson blazed a 4.31. Fitzgerald put
up a respectable 4.53 and was clocked under 4.5 in private workouts.
There was a rumbling that a fully healthy Crabtree was going to come in
around the 4.6s, and there were some who privately expected a total
disaster. This was a fast class with almost all the receivers coming in
at under 4.6. Had Crabtree been able to run, and if he had put up Dwayne
Jarrett-like Combine numbers, all of a sudden the stock would've
plummeted. Crabtree is expected to run at his pro day in late March, but
if he's not coming in under 4.6 in private workouts, don't be shocked if
he's unable to run for anyone before the draft. Without a workout,
Crabtree still might be a top ten pick on game tape, size and character.
But he needs to clock in the 4.5s to prove he can be a No. 1 target at
the NFL level.
3. Speed really does matter
Why does an offensive lineman have to run a 40? Really, what does the 40
time mean for a quarterback? It's simple, and it's obvious. Take a
quarterback prospect like Stephen McGee. The Texas A&M Aggie won't have
the game tape, but he has the size, he has the athleticism, and he has
the wheels. Only Pat White ran a faster 40 time among quarterbacks, with
McGee running a 4.66. That time makes McGree draftable, when he was
nothing more than a free agent before. If it comes down to him and, say,
Hunter Cantwell, a good bomber who ran a 5.25, there's a chance McGee
would be the pick only because an offensive coordinator can get creative
with him. For an offensive lineman, if you run well, it shows you've
been working. The 40 isn't a natural act for an offensive lineman, so
for a prospect like Xavier Fulton of Illinois or Jamie Thomas of
Maryland to run solid times even at well over 300 pounds, it shows work
ethic as well as overall athleticism.
4. Speed really
does matter, part 2
This isn't the NFL of ten years ago and
it's certainly not the same league it was 20 years ago. It's much, much
faster with much, much better trained athletes now. If you're a wide
receiver and you can't get in the 4.4 range. you have to be able to do
everything else well, be a big specimen like the 6-6 Ramses Barden out
of Cal Poly (my sleeper star of the draft), or you have to be an elite
player like Michael Crabtree. If you're in the 4.6 range, thanks for the
effort. Macy's has a nice junior executive training program. How harsh
is the criticism and analysis when it comes to speed? Oklahoma's Juaquin
Iglesias, a tremendous playmaker throughout his college career, ran a
4.51 and is being thrown into the possession receiver trash heap. Jeremy
Maclin ran a 4.4 and, even though he tweaked his knee and everyone knew it, the time was considered a disappointment. On the flip
side, if you're not really on the radar, that can change in a big hurry
if you throw up a 4.34 like Abilene Christian's Johnny Knox did.
5. People will make excuses for guys they like
Miss OT Michael Oher didn't have a disastrous workout, but it wasn't
good. His 21 reps of 225 pounds was a big problem, and while he showed
excellent quickness and athleticism, he looked like a player in need of
some work during the basic drills. However, he shows so much promise,
and was so good at times in college, that everyone seems to look for
positives to ignore the glaring weaknesses. Watch and see how many times
the excuse of having long arms is given when it comes to a poor bench
press. There isn't that much of a difference in arm length
among the top tackles.
6. The interview process is
But the medical evaluations aren't. The on-field
drills are important to compare and contrast the top prospects, but the
real reason to get everyone in Indianapolis is to have the doctors yanks
things and pull parts. These players might look like the healthiest,
most robust people in the world, but they're all beaten up. It's up to
the doctors to determine how much life is in these young bodies.
Meanwhile, the interview process (from all accounts) is predictable.
Every coach is looking for "passion" and "desire." Breaking down film is
vital, the coaches want to see what the player sees, but the entire job
interview part of the equation gets thrown out the window if the guy
can't work out well.