What is the NFL Combine Good for Anyway?

To play cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, you need to be at least six feet tall. Quarterbacks in the NFL must be at least 6’2 with hands at least 9 7/8 inches. These are statements we hear all the time. Do you want to know the reality? The NFL Combine is a chance for NFL teams to measure all sorts of things. How high can this guy jump? How many reps on the bench can the tackle from Vanderbilt do? Did you see that linebacker hit 11 feet in the broad jump? Wow, the lineman from Wisconsin ran a sub 4.8 40 yard dash! That’s all great and intriguing, however, it doesn’t give us one lick of an idea how he will turn out as an NFL player.

Keep in mind a couple things. First, the combine is done in shirts and shorts. Football isn’t played that way. By no stretch am I saying the combine is worthless because it’s not. I’m just proposing that we keep it in perspective. The last time I checked, the combine cannot measure a person’s intangibles, his heart or motor. Repping out 225 on the bench press 18 times as a receiver isn’t going to help you run that route with precision to get the separation you need to get the reception and yards after the catch. Secondly, these are supreme athletes at the combine. They will generally test well. Yes, there are some who surprise you. For example, Christian McCaffrey, rookie running back last year for the Carolina Panthers, underwhelmed the scouts by putting up 10 reps. I still think the Panthers are happy with their selection despite that poor performance by NFL standards.

Overall, the combine is an exciting time and you can compare players at the same position in various tests of athleticism and strength. Draft boards are constantly changing with what scouts see on game film and yes, what happens at the combine. If I had to put my eggs in one basket, I would personally pick game film because that’s true football. You can see a playmaker when it’s on film. A guy either makes plays when it matters or he doesn’t. The film doesn’t lie. The combine can and does lie all the time. Some of these guys will not test as good as others yet will make a bigger impact at the next level. It happens every single year. As you can tell, I am intrigued by the combine, but I keep it in perspective. I suggest you do the same. I know going into the 2018 NFL Combine, we will be intrigued by some athletic freaks. Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry and Arden Key will most likely test very well. I believe the Packers scouts look hard at game film while taking in the combine results. They will pick the best player for our team’s success. As always, Go Pack Go!


Robert Martin bleeds green and gold despite living in North Dakota, where many cheer for the purple. He is currently a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @robertmartinPHD.