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Workout warriors

Posted by Doug on February 26, 2007

I teach for a living. If you're ever in a room full of teachers and you sense too much discord in the air, simply mention that students don't take their work seriously enough. That will bring the group into harmony. Knowing nods will be exchanged as stories of underachieving kids get bandied about, and unanimity will reign. I suspect there is a similar topic in every profession and for almost every group of people who share a particular interest.

With the NFL scouting combine now upon us, I am reminded what that subject is for football fans.

Scouts and organizations put way too much emphasis on players' measurables: height, weight, 40 time, and bench press.

Rarely do you find an NFL football fan who disagrees with that. And NFL fans are known for their disagreement. But not on this topic. Mike Mamula's name will be brought up, people will shake their heads in mock dismay, and we'll all feel good about ourselves as we wonder when will they ever get it?

Tight ends Zach Miller of Arizona State and Greg Olsen of Miami entered the draft as the top two players at the position. My impression is that they were about even, or that Miller had a slim edge going into the combine. But now Olsen has apparently moved ahead of Miller because Miller ran a slow 40 (4.8) and Olsen ran a fast one (4.5).

Ridiculous, right? Scouts have been poring over dozens of games worth of film on both Olson and Miller. Based on that, they came to the consensus that Miller was a slightly better prospect. And now because of a drill that has little to do with football --- they weren't even wearing pads --- that's switched. When will they ever get it?

So the question is: at what point, if any, do you have to start paying attention to the measurables? Is 4.5 vs. 4.8 a big enough difference to switch the two? If not, what if Miller had run a 4.9? A 5.1? I certainly do generally agree with the sentiment that organizations place too much emphasis on the combine. If 4.8 speed was good enough for Miller to amass a body of work in college that was sufficient to be ranked ahead of Olsen, then the combine shouldn't change that. But at the same time, the difference between a 4.5 and a 4.8 seems pretty significant.

So I'll just throw this out as a discussion question: is .3 seconds in the enough flip flop these two guys in your rankings? If so, then would .2 be? What about .1? Why? If not, would .4 be? .5? I'm not necessarily looking for a precise figure. I'm more interested in your thought process.