It’s draft season (and mock season, so if you love mocks, check out our extensive listing) and there’s a ton of player evaluation going on.
The combine always figures heavily into this, as it give us measurables and clear baselines and comparisons for all players.
But none of this figures into on-the-field production at the next level – it’s just more information to take into account in the insanely difficult job of evaluating talent for professional football.
Much like stats can’t tell us who is a better player, measurements can’t tell us who is going to be a better player.
Take, for example, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry – who’s a better player?
Well, let’s see: Clay Matthews was a six-time Pro Bowler, made a few All Pro teams, and was Defensive Player of the Year.
Nick Perry… uh.. stayed healthy that one year…
But who saw this coming?
Let’s look at their college production.
Matthews wasn’t even the best linebacker on his team coming out… or the second best… or maybe even the third… He couldn’t get a scholarship and had to walk on to play at USC. his most notable achievement there was being the only player to ever win three consecutive USC Special Teams Player of the Year awards (even though he was only co-Special Teams Player of the Year in his last season).
Perry, on the other hand, was a blue chipper since high school, garnering scholarship offers from Miami, Michigan State, and USC. In his sophomore year and his senior year, he had more sacks than Matthews did in his 4 year career at USC (he almost did it his junior year, too, but he missed time with an ankle injury).
Looking at college production, Perry was certain to be the better player.
Then came the Combine where you can supplement your film study and college achievements with hard measurables.
Let’s look at how they tested coming out of the Combine:
|Clay Matthews||Nick Perry|
|Height||6′ 3 1/8″||6′ 3″|
|Bench Press||23 reps||35 reps|
|Broad Jump||10′ 1″||10′ 4″|
|Vertical Jump||35 1/2″||38 1/2″|
|40 Yard Dash||4.67||4.64|
|Hair||Long, Luxurious||Tight Fade|
The numbers are pretty clear: outside of hair, Perry was hands-down a better Combine specimen.
Coming out, it looked like Perry was just a bigger, stronger, faster, more explosive version of Clay Matthews. They even went to the same school and Perry was more productive!
We all know who ended up more successful, but really, all the production and measurements said it would be the reverse.
The moral of the story is clear: it ain’t easy judging these guys.
Remember that when the draft rolls around.
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