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Combine Comparison: 2018 Prospects to Former Vikings

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The Unnecessary Importance of the NFL Combine

Submitted Monday, March 5th, 2018
By: Chris Julson
The Scouting Combine answers many questions. From on-the-field drills- to the measurements - to the interviews, young athletes are tested and analyzed by employees of the NFL who will risk losing their job if they select the wrong 20-year-old. The Combine is an essential time for those young athletes to showcase their talents.

Over 300 athletes are selected by a man named Jeff Foster, the president of the National Football Scouting Inc, to compete in Indianapolis. Foster is pressured to bring in the best prospects. Does he miss athletes that get drafted that did not get invited? Absolutely, I could name countless athletes who have had successful careers despite not getting an invite. Foster realizes its importance and gives all 32 clubs a say on who is invited. It is a well-respected event around the league and often times the only people upset about his choice are some college coaches and athletes.

I have read multiple early mock drafts and found some of them laughable, yet I understand that it is impossible to project who will fall to the Minnesota Vikings in the first round. There is some better indication after the Scouting Combine. I decided to take three athletes who caught my attention throughout the weekend that I would not touch with a ten-foot pole in the first round after watching this weekends event. I compared them to former or current Minnesota Viking players in hopes of showing just how vital the Combine is to NFL success. (Hint: no real correlation)

Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA:

Miller was a top performer at the Combine. Running a 4.95 40-yard dash with a 10'1" broad jump, which by the way is a Combine record for an offensive lineman. I already saw a mock draft with Miller selected 30th by the Vikings. I am not a fan one bit of this selection. He is slim for a Tackle, and his tape looks as if he will get bullied by NFL defensive lineman. Despite my thoughts, he still had his draft stalk go up after the Combine.

Viking Comparison: Matt Kalil
Kalil was regarded as the highest rated offensive lineman in the 2012 NFL draft. He had a stellar combine and showed that he had all of the intangibles. After an injury-ridden career in Minnesota, his high draft pick and praise throughout the pre-draft did not pay off.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville:

Jackson decided not to run in the testing drills, and instead, he tried to prove the doubters of his quarterback skills wrong in the throwing drills. Was this a smart move? It did not prove to be. He did not seem to show any growth in his footwork or mechanics. His timing was off, and he misfired on multiple throws. It did not make sense to me to put so much pressure on his weaknesses and not showcase his athleticism. His interviews were also tough to watch. Do I like his talent? Yes, I do, but I think he made a mistake by not participating in every event.

Viking Comparison: Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater opted not to throw at the NFL Combine and only compete in a select few of the measurements. He threw at his pro day and as Mike Mayock called it, "Very average at best." He seemed to do himself a disservice. The combine is very good at showing your weaknesses.

Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma:

This was one of the most awful outings at the combine that I have ever seen. He looked like most guys at my local bar would if they were to get invited to showcase their athleticism, and in fact, some of my best friends might have looked better. I could not believe after watching him perform at the Combine that he was one of the most talked about lineman heading into this year's draft. I started watching his tape and questions were answered. His hand strength makes up for his apparent lack of athleticism. He knocked grown men down with a hand strike. The power behind some of his punches is lethal. There is no doubt that his combine will result in a fall in the draft board; however, his talent on tape is there.

Viking Comparison: Bryant Mckinnie
Why am I not going to jump ship on Orlando Brown? I remember the Vikings barely being able to select the top tackle in the 2002 NFL draft due to some confusion. The only thing Mike Tice ever said to Mckinnie before the selection was, "I do not know why I am even talking to you, you will not be available when we draft anyway." I compare the two because Mckinnie at the end of his career was known to have shown up to Vikings and Ravens Training camp out of shape. Does a work out drill automatically mean a player cannot be successful on the field? Not entirely. All that I know is that Orlando Brown can play between the lines, much like the mammoth of Bryant Mckinnie did throughout his career.
Fun Fact: Since 2000, the Vikings have only drafted two offensive linemen in the first round; Kalil, and Mckinnie. (And we wonder why the offensive line is always a mound of feces)

My Combine Favorites

Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
*Two men I really wanted to include: Maurice Hurst and Billy Price, both left the combine with medical issues.

It was difficult to find former players selected in the first round who performed poorly in the Scouting Combine. This shows its importance. The first round is basically trying to find that one in a million player that changes a position, or even an organization around which is why I speculate that so many teams miss entirely on talent. The checklist for the perfect NFL player seems to get more interminable and near impossible to fill.
There is a difference between a workout-warrior and someone who can play between the lines. Mock drafts are mostly an educated guess primarily based on Combine impressions. The Vikings are in a position to select the best available player this year, and if it is not that freak who tore up a drill, or has the perfect measurables, I want you to remember that this last weekends event tells a story, but it does not say all. Through your analysis of the NFL Scouting Combine, try not to forget that.