I don't follow the NFL combine. Never have. Probably never will.
I don't care if some quarterback recruit ran the 40-yard dash in less then 4.4 seconds, or even a defensive end, for that matter. Wait a minute, a defensive end ran a 4.4 40? Holy cow!!!!
And I wonder what the real value of the process is. Do we really believe that a team that hadn't planned to draft Andrew Luck is suddenly going to decide to draft him, just because he ran a better time in the 40 (or did the shuttle run a little quicker, or the broad jump, or...)?
Or that a team is going to give up on a wide receiver just because he ran a little slower (or measured a little shorter) than we at first believed?
Jerry Rice once said that there is 40-yard-dash speed and then there's football speed: he could never run as fast in shorts and a t-shirt, with no one else on the field, as he could in full uniform with a bunch of angry DBs chasing him.
I agree with him. There's combine wow and then there's on-field wow.
I'd like to believe that NFL scouting is a little more sophisticated than the combine suggests. Just because a guy can run fast, doesn't mean he can run routes fast or at all. Just because a guy is a little shorter than you thought, doesn't mean he can't close on a ball carrier and bring him down.
Funny. I just re-read that last paragraph. I wrote "I'd like to believe..." but, you know what? I don't believe that NFL scouting is all that sophisitcated. Teams are constantly being fooled by "combine monsters" whose scores on all these tests convinces the team the player is actually better than he is. And teams are also constantly fooled into thinking that a player is not draft worthy because his performance in the artificial world of the combine isn't what they think it should be.
And now comes word that the NFL is thinking of changing up the combine athletic tests to make them more entertaining for the TV viewer: like having players run the 40 in pairs, to create the sense of a race. Any value the tests might currently have will be sacrificed in the interests of rating for the NFL Network.
I'm no NFL GM but, if I were, I'd take the combine results with a massive grain of salt, depending instead on my scouting of any player in college.