What do Vontaze Burfict, Antonio Brown, Jason Peters, Greg Hardy, Robert Mathis, Richard Sherman, Wes Welker, Arian Foster and Tony Romo have in common? First, none of them were selected in the first four rounds of the NFL draft. Second, all of them have been NFL pro-bowlers.
Now look at the defense for the Super Bowl champions, Seattle Seahawks. Richard Sherman was a 5th round pick. Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith was a 7th round pick. Kam Chancellor was a 5th round pick. All of these guys did not perform at the top at the NFL combine but all of them are very good NFL players.
So what gives, if there is such an abundance of talent in the NFL that is misjudged at the combine and ultimately in the NFL draft, why do we put such importance in these workouts?
I think the answer is that there is really not much else to judge on.
Players can establish themselves in the minds of the scouts and NFL personnel with their play in college. Sometimes a player can compete at such a level that no matter how their combine workouts end up, they are highly regarded. As Bengals fans we have to look no further than Andre Smith. We all have the image of him running shirtless etched into our brains forever and you should be thanking me that I did not post it with this article.
On the other side is a player like Vontaze Burfict. Here was a guy who did establish himself on the field and through rumors and gossip was removed from many teams big boards. He followed that up with a 5+ second 40yd dash and an admission to smoking marijuana at the combine.
Marvin Lewis by his own admission states "I do believe that there are cases where we get so caught up in stats and in personality tests that we can lose sight of the football player."
So as combine workouts start and we are inundated with numbers of who is fast and who is slow. Who bench presses the most and who struggled with the weight, it is important to keep in mind that this whole process is not science. It is a tool and should be treated as such. But there are many tools needed when evaluating players and one should not be more important than the other.