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Talk pro football with SI.com's Andrew Perloff in Huddle Up, a forum to discuss the hottest topics around the NFL.
2/22/2007 12:11:00 PM

Combine craziness

Williams
Mario Williams wowed the scouting community with his outstanding performance at the 2005 combine.
AP

You'd think in this day and age teams wouldn't take the NFL Scouting Combine and subsequent pro days too seriously. Everyone knows the players spend weeks preparing specifically for the physical and mental tests they'll face. And every year, a few smart teams strike gold by ignoring the kind of measurables that come out of the draft process and focusing instead on college production.

But even last year, the combine shaped the very top of the first round. The Texans were quite open about the fact that they drafted Mario Williams No. 1 overall because he was 6-foot-7, 295 pounds and ran a 4.70 40, and they said little about his play at North Carolina State. I know it's only been one year, but that pick already appears to be a mistake.

Houston passed on Reggie Bush, Vince Young and Matt Leinart, despite their outstanding college careers. The Texans claimed they thought they could win if they bolstered their defense immediately, plus they had faith in quarterback David Carr. Both those premises turned out to be ridiculous. Williams had 4.5 sacks and the Texans' D struggled. Carr threw 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and came no closer to delivering on the promise he had as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft.

The Patriots have become the NFL's gold standard for drafting this decade and they rarely seem to pay attention to numbers coming out of the combine or pro days. One could argue their mini-dynasty started when Tom Brady didn't get enough zip on the ball at the 2000 combine, allowing him to drop to New England in the sixth round.

There are exceptions. Jevon Kearse's incredible combine workout justifiably moved him up in the 1999 draft. But for every Kearse, there are two Mike Mamula-like busts. Guaranteed, someone is going to make millions this week by running a fast 40 and a quarterback will bomb the Wonderlic and raise red flags. And come September, none of that will matter on the field.

Let me know how important you think the combine is and who you think this year's workout wonder will be.

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