2009 NFL Combine News

NC NighthawkAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2009

The NFL Combine is not about the players who excel and move from obscurity to drafted way higher than they really deserve, but about what it says about established prospects and moreover how it affects their draft stock.

The NFL Combine workouts officially started today. Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long snappers and tight ends will report to the field and work on various drills in front of coaches from different teams. Hopes and dreams can be made or crushed in this one weekend.

Some players need the Combine to prove their worth. While others might not benefit from it and could lose their value in their draft stock. Some of the drills test the player's strength while certain drills test speed.

NFL executives need the results of medical exams here to know that a player they draft is healthy. They need to talk with a player to get a sense of his personality, to see how he relates.

However, the scouts who flock here each year come to see speed. It’s always a disappointment when someone, like Michael Crabtree, does not run.

After watching hours of film, NFL executives, head coaches, and scouts want a snapshot of how a player looks and performs in person.

While Michael Crabtree’s stress fracture is undoubtedly a setback, it will not harm him significantly come draft time,  according to several talent evaluators.  As all coaches and general managers repeatedly stress during their media sessions in Indianapolis, the combine and pre-draft workouts are just but one snapshot of the process and the college game film is always at the core of an evaluation.

Crabtree is hardly the first player forced to battle through a slight stress fracture. Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens once had one before having a screw inserted in his foot.  Just last year, running back Jonathan Stewart opted for the same procedure that Crabtree soon will undergo and Carolina still drafted him with the 13th overall pick.

When the official combine measurements came in on Friday for the running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers, there was one height that stood”below” from the rest.   Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree, who was listed by his school at 6-foot-3, measured nearly two inches below that at 6-1 3/8. That, by far, was the biggest differential in height of those measured over the last two days.

Other top prospects who came up short included both top quarterbacks, Georgia’s Matthew Stafford and USC’s Mark Sanchez, who both came in at 6-foot-2, an inch below their listed heights. Sanchez was expected to throw in the combine but Stafford was not.

For these backs, it will be a dash for cash.  Chris "Beanie" Wells and Knowshon Moreno have a need for speed at the NFL Scouting Combine. Sunday’s 40-yard dash is a measuring tool for the NFL draft.

Moreno and Wells are just starting their NFL careers and they would like to enter the league as the first running back drafted. They have until late April to make their case. But an impressive combine performance could give either an early edge.

In other NFL Combine news, offensive tackle prospect  Andre Smith from Alabama said Thursday he was not sure whether he would work out for scouts at this week’s combine. Friday, he announced he’d only work out at Alabama’s pro day March 11. Saturday, Smith was announced as missing. 

Smith, projected to be drafted as high as No. 2 overall by the Rams, came into the combine with some question marks. He was suspended from Alabama’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl for alleged improper contact with an agent, and he reportedly has struggled to keep his weight in check.


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