Greetings from NFL Combine Central, where I’ve been centralized the past week here in Indy.  For some fanatics its the entree of the draft season. For me, its merely the dessert. The entree should be the games in the fall– you know— the real evidence that these guys can play?!!  But this time of year the so called Underwear or more appropriately the Under Armour Olympics gets lots of headlines—something I don’t think the NFL minds…

Keep in mind Ray Lewis ran a 4.7 40, Jerry Rice clocked in a 4.6 and some say Tom Brady had one of the worst combines in NFL history. It all proves a powerful point—-most of this stuff is meaningless. We see it every year but history keeps on repeating itself—guys are passed over for supposed lack of speed, arm strength and sometimes a low Wonderlick score but every year many of the above turn into Pro Bowlers and in some instances Future Hall of Famers.

So as my man Peter Brady (didn’t he host the Oscars?) once said– its “time to change.” Yes changes are needed in evaluating future NFL players so we must start with tweaking the NFL Combine. How about these suggestions:

FULL PADDED 40: No NFL player runs 40 yards without pads in the fall, so the first step at any future combines—you gotta put the whole ensemble on—full pads and game like shoes. Not doing so would be like a baseball tryout in cargo shorts or an NBA tryout in boxers?  Running with pads on would be a more accurate litmus test of a man’s speed but to help the nervous collegian (Mante T’eo) why don’t we have a few pit bulls chase them—it may be awkward but would certainly improve their times and surely make them many more millions.

WONDERLIC JEOPARDY: The infamous Wonderlic test is supposed to be a basic intellgence test for future NFL players but its often biased on a number of levels. Let’s make this fun and educational for the pro scouts not to mention the NFL Network. How about a Jeopardy format where we import Alex Trebek who throw a few at lineman vs lineman, QB’s vs QB’s—the winners are guaranteed not to be Mr Irrelevant! Categories could range from Basic Math, States and Capitals and for fun we could throw in– Know your Kardashians.

LINEMAN EATING CONTEST:I don’t know about you but watching offensive lineman running the 40 is about as useful as a pay phone these days. While the skill guys are getting clocked we should bring in our man Kobayashi from Coney Island and see what these big men are made off? An all out pig out to see who can eat the most hot dogs may not be  healthy but aren’t we more concerned about what sells????? I’m kidding.

ICING THE KICKER: Kickers get no love at the combine and I want to change that along with degree of difficulty. Nobody cares about their measurables, their 40 times but that should change. I know these guys are rarely drafted but they are important in their future team’s playoff fate so let’s see what they’re made of. We could have coaches ice them before they attempt field goals of 40 yards or more. Also—how bout bringing in local fans to boo kickers before their attempts—it would certainly better gauge these guys mindset for NFL scouts.

EXCHANGE STUDENTS: An interesting part of my week in Indy was better learning the stories of two players who didn’t grow up in the red white and blue but will likely be picked in the top 15 selections of the draft. We start with Germany’s own and FSU alum Bjoern Werner who could wind up remarkably as the highest pick in the history of the Noles. Yeah move over Prime Time and Derrick Brooks–Werner has proved to be a quick study—learning the game in 5 years, only 3 spent at FSU. He replaced the injured Brandon Jenkins and went on to be the ACC Defensive Player of the year with 13 sacks and now some draft boards have him going as high as the second overall selection to Jacksonville.

The other NFL import arrives from Ghana via BYU in Ezekiel Ansah. The man they call “Ziggy” makes Werner look like a football lifer—he entered his senior season with no career starts–yep not a one but is now on his way to being a first round pick. With 9 starts though he totaled 4.5 sacks and created plenty of mismatches. At 6-5 and 274 pounds he also runs a 4.6 40—pretty good combo. Some teams drafting in the middle of the 1st round don’t think he’ll be around. Ziggy told me it will be “a mistake for any team to doubt him”—stay tuned!

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: I thought the best interview of the week was Florida junior Sharrif Floyd who was so candid I don’t even know if I can believe him. He said without batting an eye that the first time he saw an NFL game was only six years ago. Yes the Super Bowl between the Colts and Bears was his first introduction when he was in high school. I asked him what he was watching all along since he wasn’t watching football? “The Disney Channel” said Floyd “my favorite show was That’s so Raven.” Too bad the Ravens will be picking long after this Gator is off the board.

DAYTONA DANICA: Away from the combine–the sports story of the week had to be Danica Patrick grabbing the pole and finishing in the top 10 at Daytona. Can we finally stop the snarky comparisons with her and Anna Kournikova. The only similarity is good looks. I know Danica hasn’t won an Indy or Nascar race in the states but no female has ever accomplished what she has. Some Nascar drivers are jealous she gets so much attention, but they should appreciate how much attention she brings to their sport.

OSCAR ANGLES: I admit to not being a big Awards Show fan. I can’t watch the ESPY’s, Grammy’s or Oscar’s for long periods but this year I wanted to see what Seth MacFarlane would bring to the table. Billy Crystal is great but the awards needed a new face—it sure brought me back. I thought some jokes were over the top but that’s what you get with our favorite Family Guy. Solid performance though and I hope he gets to do it again. As for the movies, I have been so busy that I haven’t seen any of the nominees. Look forward to seeing Argo, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook—which one should I see first?

NOBODY ASKED ME BUT….. My stomach kind of churned when Mante Te’o approached the mic in the unofficial largest press gathering for a prospect at the combine. When did it start in our country that we take so much pleasure in other people making mistakes?!  Te’o wasn’t honest and he’s surely paying for it but I think its time we all move on and let him do the same. One reporter right next to me asked him “Do you have a girlfriend in real life?” Really…..get a life buddy….

EXTRA POINT: Indianapolis is one of my favorite cities in the country. Its easy to get around and has arguably the best classic rock station (104.5 on the FM dial)in the country. I haven’t heard a bad song on there in the last 4 years.






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