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The NFL Combine is upon us

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Two years ago, a Florida State cornerback who’d torn his ACL in 2005 and missed the entire season, blew away the competition at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.38 in the 40. He had a vertical of 42 inches. He was a phenomenal athlete. But there were whispers. Will this translate onto the field? Will the injury issues linger?

This man was Antonio Cromartie. He would be selected 19th in the 2006 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He would become one of the most exciting players in the league this year, which would culminate with a Pro Bowl selection.

The NFL Combine does matter.

The Combine takes place Feb. 20-26 in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Here’s a short and simple definition of what it is. If you watch it, this is the domain of the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. He has rankings of the top players in their respective positions. His big thing this year? Not a big fan of Darren McFadden as he is Rashard Mendenhall. Wouldn’t even put McFadden in the Top 20. Wow. has an entire section dedicated to the Combine here. More than enough to keep you occupied.  

I do admit though – it’s kinda weird. Grown men stand around and watch other grown men, usually dressed in spandex, run, jump, bench press and backpedal. It’s like America’s Next Top Model without Tyra. Then they interview them to see if they're nice guys, knowing, like most interviews, he’s just telling you what you wanna hear. Then they test them to see if they're dumb or not. It’s called the Wonderlic test.

Vince Young apparently scored low. It was reported he scored a six out of a possible 50, but he disputed that number, retook it and got a 16. He would go on to be named to the Pro Bowl and win NFL Offensive Rookie Player of the Year.

Alex Smith scored 40 when the average score the prior year to him being drafted was 23. He has a career passer rating of 63.5

Frank Gore scored low. He scored a six. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2006.

Matt Leinart scored 35. He has a career passer rating of 71.2.

Yeah. Great indicator that Wonderlic test is. Key quote from MSNBC contributor Don Pierson:

The controversial Wonderlic test also gets administered at the combine. It's the reading comprehension test, often unfairly characterized as an IQ test, that can be used and misused depending on agendas. It is supposed to gauge a player's ability to learn, but often turns out only coincidental to a player's career.

Alarmingly low scores always garner more attention than high ones, but neither makes or breaks a career. Vince Young's test and re-test at last year's combine raised a ruckus and then he became rookie-of-the-year, which may change the thinking on whether the test is worth the hassle. Again, it's only one piece of a puzzle.

There is no doubt about the intelligence of former Cowboy Chad Hennings, a graduate of the Air Force Academy. After a spinal injury forced him to retire in 2000, Hennings sued to receive workers comp under the collective bargaining agreement and the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. After being rejected by the court earlier, the court reversed itself. Give ‘em hell Hennings!

ESPN delves into the most overrated players in the NFL and, surprisingly, this is the only NFL list not littered with Cowboys. None on the list. (Donald Driver does make the list though. Deservedly so. I lost my fantasy football championship 'cause of you!) But I betcha if Cowboy fans were to make an overrated list we’d see two players high at the top: Marcus Spears and Bobby Carpenter. Maybe that’s why their names are in the rumor mill.

Hat tip for Terry for mentioning the Spears/Carpenter story here.

The rumor mill? Seriously? What is this? High school?