Thursday, February 24, 2011

NFL Combine Starts... Right Now!

The NFL Combine. Where This Happens.

Calling all nerds! That's right, it's that time again - time for the event where some dreams are made, others are shattered, and Tim Tebow can increase his earnings by millions simply because he "looks like a football player" in spandex. No, I'm not talking about RuPaul's Drag Race, although, to be fair, Tebow would probably fare pretty well in that contest, too. I'm talking about the NFL Combine, the birthplace of paper tigers everywhere.

For the uninitiated, or for those who simply have more productive things to do with your last weekend in February - and "eating" and "remembering to breathe" definitely count here - the NFL Combine is the last chance for draft eligible players to audition for a spot in the NFL draft. And if you thought the Senior Bowl was worthless, just you wait until Jake Locker moves back into the number one spot because he can run fast! You know why Jamarcus Russell has blown more money on cough sizzurp than you will ever make in your entire lifetime? Because of the NFL combine. Let's just say it's not an "exact science," but at the same time is the most important inexact science in the world for the 350 or so participants. Tom Brady was invited, and if he didn't go until the sixth round, it's pretty obvious someone placed a little too much emphasis on a vertical leap.

So what does the Combine entail? Well, it's made up of six drills:

  • The 40 yard dash. You know who holds the fastest 40 time at the combine? It's a tie between Chris Johnson and... Rondel Melendez . Again, NOT necessarily a good predictor of NFL success.
  • Bench Press. Players bench press 225 pounds as many times as they can. I'm crossing sporting lines here, but Kevin Durant could only do something like 4 in his pre-draft workouts. Again, not a good indicator.
  • Vertical Jump. Whatevs. Look at me! I can jump high! Guess it's good if you're a receiver.
  • Broad Jump. I was on my elementary school's fifth grade Olympics team and came in 4th place in the broad jump. Who wants to sex Sir Wesley?
  • 3 Cone Drill. Tests agility. Linemen are not very good at this.
  • Shuttle Run. The description uses "explosion" multiple times. That's all I've got.
But you know what? Despite all of that cynicism, I always follow the workouts a little too close, and this year with five Frogs competing, I've more or less cleared my weekend, save the three hours on Saturday that I'll be at Lupton. I've always found the Combine fascinating, not just because it's amazing how there are literally tens of thousands of college aged students who have come through Indianapolis that are overwhelmingly more talented at being in shape than I will ever be, but just because of how a good workout can set up a mediocre talent for life. Cam Newton held a short, private work out a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles for scouts where he put on an Under Armour shirt and threw uncontested passes for an hour. Sounds trivial, right? I mean, surely watching game tape and taking into account his GLARING character issues, college offensive scheme, not to mention the fact that he's only played division one football for one season, is more important than a workout entirely coordinated to his liking, no? Nope - after the work out, the Todd McShay's of the world RAVED about his abilities, escalated him into their mock top tens and proclaimed that, pending a good Combine weekend, he could go as high as #3 to Buffalo, and possibly even #1 overall. If you hate Newton and all he stands for, I do not suggest you follow the Combine.

Speaking of character issues, that's another thing the Combine focuses on, allowing teams to set up interviews with prospects to grill them about the promiscuous lifetstyles their mothers exhibited. Cam Newton is going to get asked about his dad. Ryan Mallett is going to get asked why he's addicted to gettin' faaaaaaaaaded, brah. And Andy Dalton is going to be asked why he has red hair and went to a non-BCS school because those two things clearly hurt his draft stock. This is easily the most naive part of the Combine because a trained dolphin could answer these questions correctly. What is Cam going to say? "Uh, yeah, my dad is a criminal and exploited his position as a man of the God for his own financial ends?" And unless Mallett decides he wants to torpedo his career a-la Ricky Williams, I'm pretty sure he's going to deny, deny and then deny some more, and then immediately walk out the door and burn a blunt because once you get paid who gives a shit about a little weed? Again, all you're going to hear after this weekend is how Cam Newton is such a well behaved, changed young man with a good head on his shoulders... and then he and Albert Haynesworth are going to literally sit on Daniel Snyder's lawn and burn bundles of 100s in front of him while sexing his wife. This will happen.

Anyway, I realize I'm making this sound interesting for all the wrong reasons so I'll wrap it up. You should be interested in the Combine for five reasons, and five reasons only: Andy Dalton, Marcus Cannon, Jimmy Young, Jeremy Kerley and Wayne Daniels, because they're all performing this weekend. And assuming most of you do not care to waste your weekend googling and/or watching the NFL network coverage of the event, I'll be here to fill in the gaps for you, much as I attempted to do with the Senior Bowl. Except on Monday because I have jury duty. And since the event ends on Sunday, you're probably going to miss a lot of vital information due to this timing.

On second thought you're probably on your own.

Circling the bases vs Cal State Fullerton

Last home basketball game Saturday night

This year's TCU basketball season has been a lot like the TV series Entourage. It came on right after something brilliant (TCU going 13-0/The Wire), so you figured you'd give it a shot. It never really got good, but it had some promise so you told a few friends to check it out. Then the losses started mounting up, Christian started booting players, the writers started giving Turtle hot girlfriends for some reason and you realized that Adrian Grenier, despite playing an actor, cannot act. Now you just want it to end.

While HBO is trotting out Entourage for one more season (which I will begrudgingly watch just to see if it can possibly be as insufferably bad as the final season of Big Love has been so far), the 2010-2011 Frog basketball campaign will mercifully come to a close soon with the last home game being Saturday night against New Mexico.

So what went wrong? I don't know, who am I- Digger Phelps? Sir Wesley will probably post something on the collapse in the next few weeks, but I just know that for yet another year, I'll watch March Madness without a dog in the hunt like kids at SMU or Baylor must do in the fall. And since my office just sent out a memo outlawing NCAA Tournament pools, I've got to play the "cheer for our conference mates" card this postseason.

The Mountain West looks like they'll be a 3 or 4 bid league- BYU, San Diego State and UNLV look like locks, with Colorado State as one of the "first four out" in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology. Because so many teams are coming and going, I'm not sure how the money will be divided in the MWC this year, but I'm pretty certain that TCU will still get a taste if those teams succeed. The Frogs' future home, the Big East, is still holding steady with 11 probable bids (Pitt, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, UConn, Louisville, Syracuse, West Virginia, St. John's, Cincinnati and Marquette). I don't think the Frogs will directly benefit from NCAA credits earned in this year's tournament by Big East teams, but the potential numbers in a new TV contract for the league inflate with every additional win.

As for the game on Saturday, the Frogs will be looking to snap an 11-game losing streak- which includes 5 straight at home. It will probably also have perhaps half the crowd that Saturday's baseball game against Cal State-Fullerton will have.

Looking Ahead: Linebackers

A little more than a week before spring practice starts for the reloading year of 2011, there are question marks at nearly every position on the Frogs' depth chart. Linebacker, however, is relatively question-free with both starters returning.

Senior-to-be Tank Carder and junior Tanner Brock return after combining for 166 tackles (15 of them for a loss), 5.5 sacks, 2 INT's and 8 passes broken up. I guess the only question for these two is if they can match last year's productivity or not.

Behind Carder & Brock on the depth chart are senior Kris Gardner and juniors Kenny Cain and Greg Burks, who will all look to earn the title of "third starter" that was granted to Robert Henson and Daryl Washington in years past. All three have shown us flashes in the past few years, both on defense and special teams.

Linebacker has been one of the positions that the Horned Frogs have always been able to reload at under Patterson. In addition to the guys listed above, there is plenty of returning talent that will ensure the future prosperity of the position: junior walk-ons Logan Sligar and David Stoltzman have both contributed on special teams, and redshirt freshmen Marcus Mallet and Blake Roberts (if he remains at LB...some speculate he could move to DE) have major potential.

Deryck Gildon, who graduated from Arlington Martin a semester early, has enrolled at TCU and will participate in spring practice with the Frogs. He'll be joined in the fall by fellow true freshman Laderice Sanders.

So what do you think- can Carder & Brock match what they did in 2010? Will any of the backups earn more playing time? When Carder graduates, who takes his place as starter in 2012? Of the true or redshirt freshmen on this fall's roster, who will emerge as the next superstar LB at TCU?

Morning Dump

Keep an eye on TCU's Andy Dalton

Dalton on Galloway & Co
ESPN Radio

Tejay Johnson wants to be remembered as a campus leader
Daily Skiff

Places to be this weekend

TCU bound Kevin Kron wins season opener
Arizona Republic

Swimming & Diving:
TCU records fall aplenty on day one

Athletic Department:
Notes on a scorecard