Ah, it was a simpler time when Mike Mamula aced the combine and pulled the wool over Philadelphia’s eyes. Mamula, the beloved and undersized defensive end from Boston College must have been a pretty bright guy. He did, after all, score 49/50 on the Wonderlic test, but he also knew how to package himself. Good forty time, check. More bench-press reps than Tony Boselli, check. The rest, is six years of undistinguished play and not coming close to living up to expectations as the seventh pick in the draft. I’m not going to list who was taken after him (Warren Sapp), that’s not the point. The point is that Mamula used the combine as a trampoline. For all it may help, the combine can still artificially inflate a player, and send him flying up the draft board. Vernon Gholston anyone? Guys can slip as well. It’s the beauty of combine week, and it’s upon us again.
What do I love about the combine? Well, first, I love the videos of large offensive linemen running the 40. They are absolutely hilarious. I also love hearing about players and the Wonderlic Test. The Test is kind of a big mystery, and you never know if you can trust the scores or not, but there’s always a wild rumor floating around along the lines of, “Vince Young got a 9 on the Wonderlic.” I appreciate that kind of stuff. The Wonderlic Test actually has a pretty interesting Wikipedia page. Literacy is apparently represented by a score of 10. NFL players average 20, but they list some other professions as well. Journalists? 26. So, nothing to get too excited about, maybe we should cut the NFL prospects some slack. In my mind, though, I would get a 50.
I suppose the combine could have some impact on what the Eagles end up doing in the draft. It seems like more and more projections have Taylor Mays slipping to the Eagles. The safety from USC wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the 20s in last year’s draft, but this season raised questions about his abilities in coverage. No one wants a safety that can’t cover anyone, and there is even some grumblings about Mays ending up at linebacker. If he bounces back at the combine, runs a great 4o-time, he may again be out of the Eagles reach. Of course, if he doesn’t, do you even want him?
Peter King wrote this week about some GMs putting less and less weight in the combine. They don’t want to be fooled by a couple of numbers. They’re going to trust the film. It makes sense I guess, but if a guy can’t run, he can’t run. With the Eagles in desperate need on defense, I feel like they could fall victim to a workout warrior. These guys, the Aaron Maybin types pop up every year. The good news is, the Birds might be far enough down the board that the workout warriors could leap-frog them. Let other teams snap them up, and the Eagles could end up with a player who has a little more football, a little less bench press.
We’ll see. Big week for Kiper and company. Stock rising, stock falling. Tim Tebow’s new throwing motion. It’s all good.