Over the past few days, several notable stories came out of the NFL Combine. Let’s look at the top stories and how they will affect this year’s NFL Draft.
- Trent Richardson Sits Out
Add Alabama’s star RB to the list of names of big-name college players that did not participate this weekend. 2011 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Trent Richardson did not participate in the drills in Indianapolis due to recent arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
According to the initial report from the NFL network, the 5’11″, 224 lb. Richardson, who rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011, originally injured the knee in practice leading up to last month’s BCS championship game, and a “minor” procedure was performed on his knee about three weeks ago.
Richardson is the consensus choice as the top ball-carrier available in the 2012 NFL Draft, so the fact that his work-out was moved to later in March may not have much affect on his draft prospects. But with teams getting more and more hesitant to spend a high pick at a position that is notorious because A) RBs get worn down faster than any other position on the team and B) finding talent to play RB is easier than at any other position on the team.
Unless you’re an absolute world-beater, there’s no reason to spend a high pick to get you. So if any GM had any doubts about whether or not Trent Richardson is “special,” missing out on the combine didn’t help things.
- RG3 is Fast
Robert Griffin III ran his 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds on his 1st attempt and 4.38 seconds on his 2nd. That’s fast. REALLY fast. It is the fastest any QB has run at the NFL Combine in 12 years and arguably the fastest time ever if you don’t buy into Michael Vick’s “unofficial” 4.2 at his Pro day work-outs at VA Tech.
What does that mean? RG3 is a truly elite athlete. In a sport where hundredths of a second can determine whether or not a player is considered a viable prospect, Griffin was faster than every other QB at the combine – including the “running QBs” like LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Wisconsin’s Russel Wilson – by more than a full tenth of a second. It also means that all the pre-combine talk of teams being willing to lay back and wait to see if RG3 drops to them at the top of the first round went away. It went away fast.
Barring a disaster at his pro day, teams like Cleveland or Washington or Seattle who are interested in picking up Griffin now know that they almost MUST trade with St. Louis to get that 2nd pick.
It’s quite arguable that the Rams had the best weekend out of anyone at the NFL Combine this weekend, except maybe the sales manager for the local orange cone distributor.
- Andrew Luck is No Slouch
For month now, the media has given us the same tired storyline: Andrew Luck is the pocket passer and Robert Griffin III is the “athlete.” Let’s set aside the “code word’ aspect of that story for a minute and focus on the fact that Andrew Luck absolutely blew that thinking to hell with his numbers.
On Sunday at the Combine, Luck ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds. That’s less than a tenth of a second off of last year’s #1 pick, Cam Newton’s time a year ago.
Then his vertical leap was measured at 36 inches—an inch higher than Cam—and he pulled off a broad jump just two inches shy of the one by the 2011 top pick. What does that mean?
Luck is athletic.
Just as athletic as the guy who just put together a highlight reel season and set a rookie record for rushing TDs by a QB.
Andrew Luck might never go hurdling defenders on his way to a 50-yard TD score, but he is also not the kind of QB who’s feet are glued to the turf when defenders are flying around.
- Ryan Kalil Goes Beast Mode
USC offensive tackle Ryan Kalil has long been considered one of the top prospects in this year’s draft. He cemented that opinion with his performance over the weekend. Quoting ESPN’s John Clayton
With a 5.0 and 4.96 40, T Ryan Kaill may have proven he’s the best non-QB prospect in the draft.
Kalil is an absolute stud. He played at a “slim” 295 lbs, but showed up at the combine at a little over 300 lbs. With his height and frame, it’s very easy to see him adding pounds as he continues he football career, but still maintain the athleticism which will allow him to be used ina variety of offensive schemes. If – for whatever reason – the Rams don’t end up dealing RG3, drafting Kalil will be a very reasonable consolation prize
- Jerry Jones Thinks We Don’t Get Enough Football
America’s Team owner Jerry Jones floated the idea during an interview with Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock on NFL the Network that the next natural step to giving fans the “full NFL experience” of the Scouting Combine would be to take a camera into the room when teams interview players in Indy.
Mayock correctly pointed out that many coaches would hate this idea, especially because some of the interviews with players with “troubled pasts” will include some incredibly uncomfortable questions (the Miami Dolphins reportedly asked then Oklahoma St WR Dez Bryant about his experience growing up with a mother that had been arrested for prostitution).
Jones pointed out – also correctly- that in the end what the coaches like or don’t like won’t matter.
But this idea would definitely change the dynamics of team interviews if they know that their questions and the answers would be seen by the other 31 franchises. And the sessions themselves could end up becoming largely worthless if the folks asking the questions hold back for strategic reasons, or to avoid looking bad or cruel in the public eye. Or – more likely – if prospects go to extreme lengths to hide their true responses to a team’s questioning because they don’t want to end up on YouTube looking like an imbecile or a deviant.
That being said, whether or not this version of ‘reality TV’ is any more real than the reality TV you get on other networks may not make a difference; the NFL has already turned the NFL Draft into a prime time event. If they think they can create the same interest in the Combine by adding cameras to the interview rooms, it will happen sooner than later.
Which is too bad. Because..as much as I love football and I tell everyone that I can’t get enough coverage…I think even Jerry admits we don’t necessarily need cameras everywhere. Right, Jerry?
Stay tuned to this space for further developments after the defensive players run their drills