By Jeffrey Balbi
It’s been a long couple of weeks since the last football event – the Super Bowl. The country witnessed the young Seattle Seahawks team dismantle Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos. Finally, football has made its much anticipated return to the television screen. The season is still over, but now teams and players look to the future, and to the junior and senior college football players who are ready to show they have what it takes to play in the big leagues.
A couple weekends ago, leading up to Tuesday February the 25th, the NFL hosted its annual combine for potential future players. The combine was held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN – the home of the Indianapolis Colts – during February 19-25. What the combine really represents for these young athletes, freshly removed from the college level, is widely considered the biggest and longest interview of their lives.
All 32 teams had their scouts and representatives in attendance to observe the interview process as well as watch the workout’s that were taking place. The number of college players that were invited to this years combine? 335 players were interviewed and watched during workouts by all teams in order to assess their skill set and characteristics for a chance to be selected come the draft during late April. The make up of players participating are from the Division I FBS and FCS level.
What fans really look forward to are the drills that players must go through. The notable drills include the 40 yard dash, the three cone drill, bench press, skill drills and verticals. Who was this years 40 yard dash champion? Kent State’s wide receiver/running back Dri Archer ran the fastest 40 time with a 4.26 official time. Oregon State’s wide receiver Brandin Cooks was not too far behind Archer with a 4.33 official time. These speedsters have already gotten plenty of attention due to their breaking speed and playmaking skills during their collegiate careers.
Who dominated the number of reps during the bench press? Well, that is usually dominated by offensive/defensive linemen, which this year the offensive linemen dominated the competition. Russell Bodine, center from University of North Carolina went home knowing that his 42 reps benching 225lbs was the best out of 334 other players. The runner up on the bench press was Boston College’s defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey with 36 reps.
The combine has been known to not determine the fate of players as history been known to repeat itself. Tom Brady for instance did not have the best workouts during the 2000 combine, running a 5.28 time on the 40 yard dash, and becoming a sixth round pick, 199th overall. But, he managed to prove that impressive numbers during drills do not determine a players fate as he is now considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Many players that are invited to the combine do not participate at all due to injuries or personal reasons. Most recently in last years draft, Keenan Allen, now a San Diego Charger -former University of California-Berkeley wide receiver- did not participate in the combine but did so during his school’s pro day. He was picked up off the boards in the third round and worked his way to becoming nominated for Offensive Rookie of the Year falling short to Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy.