The NFL Combine is in the books, and it’s time to reassess everything we thought we knew about these prospects going into last week. While it’s important to not overlook the tape we’ve watched up until this point, it’s also imperative that we don’t throw away the NFL Combine numbers, simply because “it’s not football.” Athleticism absolutely matters, and if a player showed up at the combine, but his athleticism didn’t pop off on film, it could mean the player is coachable and wasn’t put into the right situations. On the other hand, if a player looked like he belonged on the football field on tape but didn’t pass certain athletic thresholds at the NFL Combine, it could (and should) be a big red flag.
And it’s also about expectation. Certain players going into the NFL Combine were expected to shine. If they did, that’s great and all, but the real “winners” of the event are those that went in with questions about their athleticism and quickly put them to bed. So today’s Question of the Day is:
Who was the biggest winner of the NFL Combine?
My answer: It has to be Montez Sweat for me. While athleticism wasn’t a huge concern for him and his college tape, he certainly wasn’t expected to do what he did. In fact, Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network thought the 40-yard dash and agility drills may expose a small flaw in his game.
“Filled out his frame and should be tantalizing to teams looking at his physical profile, but athletically there are still limitations,” Ledyard wrote. “I think the agility drills and 40 will be struggles for him.”
I think a lot of people agreed that some of the agility drills would hurt him. His bend and flexibility have been criticized by many, so not only was Sweat’s 40-yard dash time important, but his three-cone score was going to be critical.
All Sweat did was come into the NFL Combine beefed up at 260 pounds—nearly 20 pounds heavier than his listed playing weight at Mississippi State—break the defensive line record for 40-yard dash time (4.41), and post an elite three-cone time.
I can’t tell you how many people on Twitter I saw backtrack and scramble, saying they need to go back to his film and see what they missed. And while there was still some small concerns about his performance during on-field drills (slipped a few times), this is exactly what the Combine is for. Sweat took some of the biggest concerns of his game and methodically tore each one of them down.
You can’t erase the tape, and Sweat is far from a perfect prospect, but it’s hard to imagine him doing anything more to improve his draft stock than what he did over the weekend.