Running a 4.3 second 40 yard dash in shorts is great, but how often does it translate to a great player in the NFL? The answer is rarely. The NFL combine is a great place for players to showcase their talents running, jumping, and show how strong they are, but NFL teams and fans need to remember that these players are doing all of this is shorts and t-shirts.
The list of players that have had great NFL combines and did not pan out in the NFL is ever-expanding, and teams fall in love with the numbers some players put up in Indy every year. Take for instance Vernon Gholston. Back in 2008 he went to the combine and had one of the best combine workouts a defense lineman has ever had. He ran a 4.6 40 yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 37 times, had a vertical leap of 35.5 inches, and broad jumped over 10 feet. The New York Jets selected Gholston with the 6th overall pick, and gave him a ton of money, even though there were questions about his work ethic. He was projected to become a prolific pass rusher, and some one who would anchor the Jets defense line for years to come.
Gholston had 3 horrific years with the Jets, where he did not register a sack, and he sat the bench until the Jets finally cut ties with him. Last year he was picked up by the Chicago Bears and placed on their practice squad, where he never made an appearance in a single regular season game.
Now I can go on to name thousands of more players that had amazing combines and then fizzled out in the NFL, but I do not want to bore you with a 1,000 page blog post. Some of the NFL greats did not have amazing combine numbers, but produced on the field. Take Wide Receiver Jerry Rice for example. In the 1985 combine he ran a 4.6 second 40 yard dash, a slow time for receivers in the NFL. He was selected by the 49ers with the 16th overall pick behind two other receivers. Can you name the other two receivers that were selected before him in that years draft?
Like I said before, the NFL combine is great for players to get their names out there and show what they can do in shorts and a t-shirt, but when attempting to rebuild a franchise through the draft, watch the players actual game tape before you make a selection, because the numbers that a player puts up at the combine may cast a shadow over the players actual abilities.