The results are in. The numbers don’t lie.
My NFL dream is done…and so are my hammies (three days after the fact).
On Saturday, the NFL Combine drills get under way with 300 of the country’s finest prospects tossing on those Under Armour vests, running the 40-yard dash, taking comprehensive physicals, and interviewing with team executives looking to add the critical missing piece to their rosters. If college was crafting the resume, this is the job interview.
I always would have liked to run drills when interviewing.
“Okay Mr. Mergens, we need you to run the 3-machine shuttle. Pick up the incoming faxes, sprint to the printer and replace the toner, change directions to the other side of the room to pour a cup of coffee, and finish back at the fax machine by sending a successful transmission. A ‘PC Load Letter Error’ will result in your disqualification.”
I’d be invincible in the employment marketplace.
This got me to thinking about just how incredible these athletes are. We watch them on Sundays, we play their game out at the park, and don’t tell me you haven’t thought just once after you torched your brother-in-law on a double move, “why couldn’t I get paid to do this?”
I decided to run the combine drills myself to get firsthand experience on what these athletes are preparing for and to see just what kind of ridiculously physical specimens these young men are. Trust me, you and I will never get paid to catch a pass on a slant route.
Before you compare these paltry results with those of the 2011 Denver Broncos draft class, there’s one thing you need to know:
I’m a runner in pretty decent shape considering I have this existential connection with my cubicle. In competitive races (5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and marathons) I consistently place near the 60th percentile in formulas that analyze skill by factoring gender, age, and finishing time. I thought this general athleticism would at least give me a puncher’s chance at putting up an impressive number or two. Wrong.
Here’s a quick reminder of the last years’ draft picks:
- Von Miller, LB, 1st round, 2nd overall pick
- Rahim Moore, S, 2 (24)
- Orlando Franklin, OT, 2 (46) (Limited participation in Combine drills)
- Nate Irving, LB, 3 (67) (Did not participate in Combine drills)
- Quinton Carter, S, 4 (108)
- Julius Thomas, TE, 4 (129)
- Mike Mohamed, LB, 6 (189)
- Virgil Green, TE, 7 (204)
- Jeremy Beal, DE, 7 (247)
The chart below shows the reality of being an elite athlete:
So that’s that. Bottom line is that these guys are good.
My biggest take-away from running these drills is that speed is one thing, explosiveness is something entirely different. A certain one-and-a-half foot vertical proves it. While I can go to bed pretty much unashamed of my speed numbers (aside from the nightmares caused by a runner not breaking 5.00 seconds in the 40-yard dash), explosiveness shows true full-body athleticism and dictates how far an NFL career can go. Many people are in good shape, very few have any semblance of explosive strength. Speed, agility, strength, and explosiveness are all part of the assessment, but it’s the prospects who demonstrate all of the above who can prove the most in Indianapolis. It’s a special kind of athleticism.
One last detail about numbers and elite athletes: the Combine really is a showcase for the best of the best. Just to get an idea of who gets drafted to the NFL, there are 633 FBS, FCS, Division II, and Division III schools in the NCAA. Assume each one averages 75 on a roster. That’s 47,475 college football players. Let’s say a 1/5 of those players are draft eligible seniors for a total of 9,495. There are 252 picks in this year’s draft, meaning that a mere 2.65% of all college football players are drafted.
The title of Mr. Irrelevant is given to the last player drafted to evoke his anonymity. It’s a cute name, but Mr. Still-More-Athletic-Than-You-And-Me is more probably more accurate.