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Why the combine isn't that important for Golden Tate

Feb 22, 2010, 4:07 PM EST

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve said the NFL Scouting Combine is one of the most important days in Golden Tate’s (albeit short) professional career. Yet I’ve also said that what he does in 40 yards on a track in Indianapolis won’t be more important than the magical season that he put up last year.

While Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and the NFL Network will have you believe that the Combine will determine the fates of most elite college players, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has an anonymous quote from a high-ranking NFL executive that should have Tate breathing a little easier.

From King’s must-read MMQB:

In my calls around the league in the last few days, I spoke to one
club architect who shall remain nameless at his request. He told me his
team had changed its way of doing business in the scouting realm this
year, and his team’s draft board is “90 percent set.”

Quoth
this architect: “You know why it’s 90 percent set now? Because guys go
to the Scouting Combine and they change their grade on a player based
on things that have nothing to do with playing football. I’m convinced
if you took the stopwatches away from a lot of these guys, most of ‘em
would not be able to tell you whether they liked a player or not.

“These
guys go out and watch players all fall, then we all watch the tape of
all these guys, and we see what kind of football players they are.
That’s scouting. Who plays good football in pads? That’s scouting. Now
we need the combine for the medical evaluations and the personal
baggage stuff. But don’t come in after the combine and tell me you want
to change some guy and move him way up because he ran faster than you
thought he would. That’s where you get in trouble, and that’s why our
draft board is pretty well set.”

If I told you who this
speaker was, you’d all say, “Whoa, we have to listen to this guy. We
respect him.” Just take my word for it. He’s legit.

I
enjoy the combine. It gives me the chance to meet a lot of players I’ll
be covering in the future and to see people in the NFL and get
team-by-team updates. It’s valuable. But it’s way overrated in terms of
deciding who should get picked where in the draft, and it always will
be.

For guys like Golden Tate — an explosive, award-winning, All-American player putting up big time yards in a pro system — this should be music to your ears.

I’m not saying Tate can go out and run a 4.6 forty, but at the very least it shows you that scouts have stopped being slaves to the stopwatch and realized that being a good football player is pretty important, too.

  1. Ruben - Feb 22, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    Just proves what we all have known for some time. Those in charge of The National Football League are not members of the Mensa Club. Finally, an NFL executive who figured out that a better way to project a guy’s ability to play football at the highest level is by watching him play football, as opposed to watching him jump up & down at the Combines.

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