There may not be a more over hyped or overdone event in the NFL than the yearly Draft Combine in Indianapolis.Scouts get a chance to salivate over college prospects frolicking around shirtless and/or in their underwear. Because we all know nothing proves that you’re a great football player like running 40 yards without defenders or pads in a controlled environment.
Nevertheless, the spectacle continues every February with this year’s event starting Wednesday.
But for every Cam Newton who shows up at the Combine and solidifies his top billing, there are a slew of guys who jump up the charts merely by having tremendous workouts and then prove to be total busts.
Mike Mamula was looked at as a fast defensive end-linebacker hybrid pass rusher when the Eagles traded up to get him in the 1995 draft. His combine efforts proved not to be a good indicator of future success as Mamula was out of the NFL by 2000 and never once made the Pro Bowl.
Cleveland was certain it had found its defensive line anchor in Courtney Brown when they took him with the first pick of the 2000 draft. The sheer strength and wide receiver speed he showed at the combine ended up in an injury-plagued career and a whole lot of so-so play.
A crazy workout at the 2001 combine (40-yard dash, vertical leap, and bench press all through the charts), led St. Louis to take defensive back Adam Archuleta in the first round. He had a few nice seasons with the Rams, but none that warranted the most expensive salary for a safety in NFL history that he got from the Redskins in 2006. He was out of football a year later.
New Orleans made Johnathan Sullivan the second defensive lineman to come off the board in the 2003 NFL draft after a stellar combine. His career highlights? 57 tackles and 1.5 sacks in three seasons.
Arkansas' Matt Jones was another speedy college QB turned pro WR and his sub-4.4 seconds 40-yard time at the 2005 combine garnered him a first round selection by Jacksonville. Jones never quite learned how to play his new position and hasn't been seen in a football uniform since 2008.
Vernon Gholston set all kinds of records as a defensive end at Ohio State. He then tied the bench press reps record at the 2008 combine, leading to a sixth overall pick by the Jets. Gholston was out of football last season with a career that so far includes 16 total tackles and zero sacks.
Oakland's infatuation with speed and agility reached an all-time high when it took wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey with its first round pick in the 2009 draft. Everyone's consensus top wideout, Michael Crabtree, was still on the board, but Raiders execs went with the guy with a super fast 40 time instead. Heyward-Bey followed that up with two not-so-great years.
Safety Taylor Mays looked a bit like Iron Man as his muscles bulged out of his uniform while at USC. He fed into that narrative by running a 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.43 seconds at the 2010 combine. The 49ers took him in the 2nd round, but he's since been traded to Cincinnati and hasn't really sniffed the field.
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