The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

A Piece of the Process

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There's no doubt that in some years, some teams take what they see at the Combine too seriously. That's how you get guys like Vernon Davis taken sixth overall because he shreds all the drills and runs a sub-4.4-forty, when he's not really the kind of player deserving of such a position.

Where the Combine really earns its importance is when it becomes the best forum for smaller-school players to perform on a (literal) even playing field. There's always going to be questions about the level of competition if you're talking about a player than comes from a smaller college, and the Combine is the peak of a series of steps that give those players a real chance to show what they can do.

In addition, the Combine is where all players can meet with teams and get an idea what the teams are looking for. This is when you find out who's got his head on straight and who doesn't. There was the famous interview the Colts did with Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in 1998, when they asked both quarterbacks what they'd do if they were selected first overall. Manning said that he'd do everything he could to get ready for the next level. Leaf's response? "I'm taking my buddies, and we're going to Vegas, baby!" The Colts were thus able to draft one of the best quarterbacks in league history, and leave the catastrophic mistake to the Chargers.

If the Combine is used as a cog in the machine, I think it can be a valuable asset to the scouting process. But any team that places a disproportionate emphasis on what happens when players are in shirts and shorts -- that's a team that will get fooled over and over. Game tape still has to be the deciding factor.

By Doug Farrar  |  February 19, 2009; 6:08 AM ET  | Category:  Doug Farrar , Draft , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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