Now I will never say that I am a scout or serious evaluator of talent, I am like most of us here in Blog world in that I will watch a fair amount of college football games, some of the bowl games and post highlight games (Senior, East-West Shrine game), I will watch the nightly broadcasts of the combine and read others opinions regarding players. What we sometimes seem to lack, both the people here in blog world and the professional scouts is the ability to seperate the fact from the fiction. It amazes me how much emphisis is put on the post bowl games and combine. We see a defensive lineman dominate someone in a one-on-one drill and say it doesn't matter that this guy routinely didn't show this ability during games, look at how he destroyed that center one-on-one. The fact is that football is a team sport, and maybe with the exception of hockey, no other team sport do you depend more on your teamates than football. A CB will look damn good if the DE and DT are getting to the QB on a routine basis, a RB can look like a pro-bowler if he has a monster line to run behind, but football is about the team more than anything, it only works when all eleven guys work and trust each other.
This gets me to the point of the science, we look at guys one-on-one and come up to some judgement regarding how well they will work on a team, the fact is most of these players have not been practicing much or playing for over a month, most have been sheltered away training for the Combine, they have been working on their bench press, their 40 time, their short shuttle time, etc..none have been working as a team. When they show up they are put in situations that will generally never happen. Hey Mr. Center, you are going to have to snap the ball and block this guy in front of you one-on-one and have no help, and the DT can run either side of you, you will have no help from any lineman, of course DT will look amazing. Mr. CB, we want you to cover this guy one-on-one, no help, you have no clue what pattern he will be running, you can't study game film, and you have no semblence of pressure on a QB, naturally the WR will have a distinct advantage to the CB, his only disadvantage is that he has not been able to practice with the QB much and therfore will lack any timing. Then lets play a game where you guys have practiced together for a little over 3 to 4 days and expect you to look like a team, face it, most of the guys playing are looking to make the highlight reel, and could care less about assignments or working together, they just want to make that big play to get themeselves noticed. Though it will help scouts see how well someone can adapt to a different situation, it shows little of how well that player will be able to assimilate into a team, since most of the defenses and offense run are so vanilla.
Now lets move on to the combine. We will measure how fast a guy is, how quick he is, how many bench presses he can do, etc.., all wearing shorts, all on a nice air conditioned, indoor track. None of these tests will have much impact on how well the man can play football. As we have seen with Denver's poor draft picks, just because a guy can run a 4.3 doesn't mean he can catch a football, make a block, or run a route, or play in a team. This last draft was a perfrect example of guys that were not the workout warriors, but just plain good football players: Eddie Royal was seen as undersized and didn't come from a sophistcated offense, Spenser Larsen was seen as too limited athletically and too old, Wesly Woodyard was seen as undersized, yet all of them were probably the best teamates and football players on their respective teams.
So as we start the countdown to the draft and we start getting bogged down with the 40 times, bench presses, the tape of a dude at the Senior bowl, I suggest that the best science is looking back over a guy's college career and saying is he a team player and is he a football player, if the answer is yes, then draft him. 40 yd times and results of drills may be nice to look at and debate, but not the way to build a team.