The National Football League Combine is home to the hopes and dreams of young aspiring NFL talent. Although some prospects, like quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford, have their draft position seemingly wrapped up, others rely on the combine to impress the scouts and improve their draft stock. From 40 yard dash times, to bench press repetitions, to coach-to-player interviews, every specific attribute an NFL team desires in a player is on display at the NFL combine.
The 2012 combine was held in Indianapolis amid the swirling speculation of Peyton Manning’s future. But at least for a few days in late February, whether it was the outstanding performances or the disappointing showings, the combine was the talk of the NFL. For your reading pleasure, listed are a few positions broken down with “The Good” performances, “The Bad” performances, as well as “The Sleeper” performances of the 2012 NFL Combine.
The Good: Robert Griffin III, Baylor- RG3 reaffirmed his Heisman hype, and showed off his world-class speed when he blew teams away with is 4.41 40 yard dash time. That time was the second fastest time ever recorded by a QB (Mike Vick ran 4.33).
The Bad: Nick Foles, Arizona- Foles completely underwhelmed potential suitors with the slowest 40 time of the quarterbacks (5.14 sec.), which affirms his “lumbering” image as far as mobility is concerned. Foles struggled in throwing drills with downfield accuracy, which is a trait he was highly criticized for throughout his college career at Arizona.
The Sleeper: Aaron Corp, Richmond- After suffering a season ending knee injury in 2010, Corp needed an outstanding combine performance to prove to scouts that he still had plenty of physical ability to play in the NFL. That is exactly what the ex-Richmond Spider did by turning in a 4.72 40 time, 4.30 20 yard shuttle, and according to reports threw the ball very well. NFL doctors examined his repaired knee for hours and gave teams the nod that it looked good.
The Good: David Wilson, Virginia Tech- Wilson impressed scouts with a group best broad jump of 11′, an unheralded vertical leap of 41″, and ran well with a 4.49 40 time. The 2011 ACC Player of the Year solidified his slot behind Alabama’s Trent Richardson as the second rated running back. Also, Wilson impressed many teams by being the first player in years to wear a suit and tie to interviews, instead of sweats like his peers.
The Bad: Marc Tyler, USC- Tyler produced the worst 40 yard dash performance among running backs with a 4.76 time. He lacked fluidity and confidence in all of the other drills.
The Sleeper: Chris Polk, Washington- The second all-time leading rusher from Washington shook doubts about his dedication, size, and speed at the combine. Polk lost nine pounds from the Senior Bowl on January 28 to prove to “GMs and coaches that I’m dedicated” after concerns about his weight. His 4.57 40 yard clocking, 4.21 20 yard shuttle, and 7.13 three-cone drill were impressive. Polk may have aligned himself as a second round pick in the upcoming draft.
The Good: Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech- Considered by many “experts” before the combine to be a fourth round pick, Hill may have added a few more zeros to the end of his first NFL contract by blazing a 4.3 40 time.
The Bad: Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech- Boykin showed his lack of adequate speed at the NFL level with a 4.74 40 time and 4.28 20 yard shuttle. To the average human being, these figures are exceptional, but for potential NFL stars at wide receiver, a 4.7 40 is not going to cut it.
The Sleeper: Eric Page, Toledo- Page’s performance proved that he excelled in measures of lateral quickness, as he tied for best of the receivers in the 20 yard shuttle with 3.98 sec. Page was expected to be a late round pick before the combine, but significantly improved his draft stock with his shuttle time to perhaps a mid-round pick as a slot possession receiver with sure hands. Page’s only knocks were his group worst 30.5″ vertical leap and mediocre 4.6 40 time.
The Good: Mychal Kendricks, Cal- The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was the most impressive defensive player at the combine, aside from Dontari Poe of Memphis. He was the leader in the 40 yard dash (4.47), vertical jump (39.5), and broad jump (10’7″).
The Bad: Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State- Burfict perhaps turned in the most disappointing performance of the combine. The main setback hanging over his head were off the field issues, but after running a 5.09 40 time, coupled with a mere 8′ 7″ broad jump, Burfict on the field is beginning to be questioned. Also, it did not help his character issues when he blamed his coaches for his poor performance.
The Sleeper: Zach Brown, UNC- Brown is not much of a surprise, as he was expected to put on a show at the NFL combine. And he did just that with his scorching 4.50 40 yard dash time, which ranked second among all linebackers. Even though Brown is not being touted as a first round draft pick, look for this Tar Heel to be an NFL superstar in years to come.
The Good: Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama- Off the field issues with marijuana displaced this former Florida star at North Alabama. Despite his off the field concerns, all the physical ability that made him one of the most highly touted corners in the draft remains. Jenkins boasted a 4.46 40 yard dash time and an 11.63 60 yard shuttle, both among the leaders for the corners.
The Bad: Cliff Harris, Oregon- Cliff Harris needed to show the NFL that he possessed elite speed amidst scouts questioning his judgment that got him kicked of the Oregon Duck football team last season, but Harris showed his rust. Clocked at 4.59, his 40 time is not slow, but not close to the speed he needed to silence any critics. Harris certainly did not help himself.
The Sleeper: Josh Robinson, Central Florida- A relative anonymity coming to Indy, Robinson showed up BIG by earning the 2012 combines fastest man title with a 4.33 40 yard dash time. He also included the best broad jump for his position, third best vertical leap, and a respectable 17 reps on the bench press. Look for Robinson to cash in big during the first few rounds from his performance at the combine.Iloka Proved that he is among the best safety products with a huge 6’4″, 225 pound frame. His size did not slow him down in the 20 yard shuttle as he posted a tremendous 4.03 time.