The big news from Indianapolis where wide receivers were concerned came in the form of former Texas Tech standout Michael Crabtree, who has been pigeon-holed as the best receiver in this year’s draft for months now. While he was listed at 6-foot-3 the last few years, Crabtree measured in at a “pedestrian” 6-foot-1 and 3/8 and a stress fracture in his foot was revealed. Combined with his apparent lack of speed, it didn’t take much for Crabtree’s stock to fall in the eyes of many. After all, what good is a receiver who lacks elite speed and tops it off by shrinking two inches?
Then there were the quarterbacks, and there are really only two that exist in the entire known universe for most Chiefs fans – USC’s Matt Sanchez and Georgia’s Matt Stafford. While only one worked out over the weekend, both measured, and both came in about an inch under their previously “official” heights. Strike one.
Then Sanchez started throwing the ball. Depending on who you believe, he was either terrible, mediocre, decent, or even better. That is not an exaggeration.
John Clayton of ESPN characterized Sanchez’s showing as “good enough.” Does Scott Pioli use that description on his Combine notes? I wonder. Moving on, Tony Pauline of Sports Illustrated said Sanchez “struggled” and may have dropped out of the top 10. Don Banks echoed that comment, and Scout.com’s Adam Caplan was equally unimpressed with Sanchez. Strike two!
Meanwhile, the consensus top linebacker in the draft, Aaron Curry, wowed scouts with a 4.56 40-yard dash time, no small feat for a 254-pound linebacker.
Well, that’s it. Crabtree shouldn’t even be drafted now, Sanchez and Stafford are as tall as Brodie Croyle, and Sanchez apparently is as inaccurate as Tyler Thigpen. Oh, but Curry is clearly worthy of the third pick in the draft. He’s a home run. Someone tell the Chiefs he’s not only fast, he’s faster than Derrick Johnson (and possibly Superman).
If you were previously in love with Crabtree, take a step back and realize he’s still the same player who racked up over 3,000 yards receiving and 41 touchdowns the last two seasons as a Red Raider. Yes, he is not as tall as we previously believed. Will that really affect his ability to get open and catch the football? Will NFL cornerbacks now scoff at Crabtree as he walks to the line of scrimmage and mockingly refer to him as “shorty?”
If you previously had your heart set on Stafford or Sanchez, realize that there’s an almost endless list of NFL quarterbacks past and present who may have been an inch or two under the ideal height. In Sanchez’s case, perhaps his performance in Indianapolis wasn’t the be-all, end-all of NFL Combine quarterbacking. But considering he was throwing to receivers he had barely worked with, some he may not have even met previously, it shouldn’t be regarded as grounds for dumping him way down the draft chart.
And yes, Curry is fast. In fact, Johnson’s 40-yard dash in 2005 was a “slow” 4.65 in comparison. But does it change the fact Curry is not a pass rusher? Perhaps he is faster than we previously believed. I’m sure that will help him run right past offensive tackles to the outside with blinding swiftness as quarterbacks step up in the pocket and look downfield.
Still having trouble dealing with the “letdown” of the 2009 Combine? Maybe you just need a little history lesson.
In 2007, a big-name player from a major school measured about an inch under his previously listed height. He ran a pedestrian 40-yard dash that was bested by 23 other players in his position group. His vertical jump was only 33 inches.
Dwayne Bowe would go on to lead all rookie NFL receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns that season. He was tall enough, fast enough, jumped high enough, and gosh darn it, people liked him.
Does the NFL combine have its merits? Yes. But should it really change your opinion about a player you previously had your heart set on, or even just liked a little bit? Not especially.