Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Feb 2012

2012 Combine Report: Day Three

by Mike Tanier

Peter King flicked a Tootsie Roll into my beer last night.

That was not very professional of him. Of course, he was just retaliating after I walked up and chugged his beer while he was speaking.

Football Outsiders past and present attended the Peter King Tweet-Up at the Sun King Brewery, and we got the VIP treatment. The folks at Sun King gave us free beer, and they even let me use the employee restroom!

The main topics of conversation, as you might guess, were Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III came up a few times, and King gave me the mic so I could dribble down my chin as audibly as possible. A swell time was had by all.

But now it’s back to the podiums and the prospects for a few hours before yours truly heads home.

Reese and Captain Fourth Down.

Jerry Reese kicked things off, and his press conference had a strange vibe. There were many Victor Cruz questions, and when Reese was asked about how so many teams missed Cruz, he admitted "we missed him too."

Reese said that he got lucky taking a flyer on a local free agent who "kinda looked just like a guy" at a small program; Cruz worked hard, the coaches developed him, and salsa happened. This bit of honesty almost turned confrontational, as if Reese was being asked to justify why he didn’t spend a second-round pick on Cruz instead of finding him in the sofa cushions. The "scouting is an inexact science" storyline probably isn’t very interesting. Reese and Cruz remind us that much of what we perceive as scouting is really development. And development involves both good coaching and good roster management, because players need meaningful reps, and bringing in 32-year-olds with no future can take away from those meaningful reps.

Mike Smith fielded a bunch of softball questions before some jerk (me) asked him if his fourth-down strategies were going to change. Smith said that he will remain aggressive. He said that going for it on fourth-and-short is a good strategy "statistically." Yay. I asked if he planned on putting in some special packages for fourth-and-short, and he said that he does critical analysis during every offseason, and "fourth down and one is at the top of my list." Go, coach, go!

The Shill is Back.

The gang at Under Armour let me fondle the compression shirt Rich Eisen will wear when he runs the 40-yard dash next week. Eisen was not in it. The shirt features the new E39 sensor; several players wore an early version of the sensor last year. It measures heart rate, breathing, and other factors, but Under Armour is focusing on the acceleration data the sensor monitors this year. The E39 transmits data about the player’s initial burst straight to a laptop or smart phone, where it can be graphed, saved, compared longitudinally, and so on.

The E39 even combines the player’s mass and the acceleration data into force data using a highly complex algorithm. Multiplication! There’s probably a little more to it than that (the representative I spoke to probably did not know that I taught math for 17 years), and the E39 can also compute horsepower and other freshman physics properties. Instantaneous acceleration and force data can be very useful for coaches and players during training sessions, and right now the target markets for the E39 are elite training facilities and the like. As the product is perfected, it will find its way to the mass market.

The fabric feels like Under Armour, and the sensor is very light and fits snuggly. I can imagine joggers using it to measure their heartrate and other factors, though I cannot imagine jogging. If they include a Laser Tag feature, it will sell like hotcakes. I kid! It’s a cool innovation. Under Armour!

Brian Billick Does Not Inhale.

By the time I returned from my Under Armour session, Brian Billick was ranting about the possible legalization of marijuana in California. Billick was speaking about character issues versus mistakes, and much of what he said was just good horse sense: personnel people must try to separate isolated incidents from behaviors that form the core of a prospect’s personality. Billick called testing positive for marijuana at the Combine "an intelligence issue, not a character issue," because players know well in advance that they will be tested. At any rate, Billick started speculating that the California state legislature may be toking up, which meant it was time to give Podium A a breather.

Ingram.

Melvin Ingram (DE-OLB, South Carolina) is an interesting prospect; a Mathias Kiwanuka-type who can bounce all around the defensive front. He is listed as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, and he played linebacker as a freshman before moving into more of a straight pass-rushing role. Ingram said that dropping into coverage is "“second nature" to him, and he has been working out with Von Miller. Ingram also said that he was a point guard in high school, playing at about 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. "I was a scorer," he said. Yes, I can picture the play: Ingram drives, everyone in their right mind runs screaming from the paint.

Tanier, signing off.

Yesterday, Tom Coughlin called Super Bowl week "a magnificent blur."

I felt the same way. Returning to Indianapolis, working at a less-blistering pace, I have been able to reflect on that formula race of a week: memories of glorious moments, painful moments, strange, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, thrills, frustration, exhaustion. Coughlin said that there was a memory "on every street corner." I was on a lot more street corners during Super Bowl week than the coach was.

Let me tell one leftover Super Bowl story before heading home. The game ended, the Giants won, confetti flew, and the auxiliary press box (really a closed-off section of seats in the corner of the end zone) collectively stood, stretched, and rushed for the interview rooms or the field. I was off the clock the moment I filed my final game report, and with a whole phalanx of other Times reporters on hand to capture the moment, I decided to head back to the hotel and pack. I was much more interested in seeing my wife and sons than the Lombardi Trophy at that moment.

I ducked into the crowd and began walking through the tunnels to leave Lucas Oil Stadium. And walking through the tunnels. And walking some more. It was like the scene in Spinal Tap where the band cannot find the stage, but keeps shouting "rock ‘n’ roll" after every wrong turn. The Lucas Oil tunnels have a grade of about 0.000045 degrees, so getting from the upper decks to the street is like snaking around a decompressed Slinky.

The J.W. Marriott hotel, with its 20-story tall Lombardi Trophy banner, would appear through a window. Then the crowd ducked back into the switchbacks, twisting and turning, down a slope that would not even give a shopping cart enough momentum to ding a car door. After a minute or two of walking, the Marriott reappeared out another window, and there was no perceptible change in our elevation. This happened approximately 600 times.

The Giants fans did not notice at first. They kept cheering and shouting "World Champions!" One guy shouted "World F***ing Champions," Chase Utley-style, but his buddy reminded him not to curse. That was a nice moment, Indianapolis rubbing off on us. But then the Super Bowl high wore off just a bit, and many people began to realize that they had been walking in circles for weeks. "This is some weird dream," I said to a random traveler on the same pilgrimage to nowhere. "None of this is really happening. I bumped my head on Thursday morning and dreamed all of this." She looked at me funny.

Finally, the loop was broken, and a blast of cool winter air welcomed us to the street. Then, we were somehow back inside. The security folks funneled everyone into an enormous tent gift shop, then into the convention center, where all manner of ticketed parties were going on. I could have press-passed my way through a security gate, or even into a party, but all I craved was freedom. I rushed through the conventional hall, out a door, and into the famous Super Bowl Village, lit up and alive and electric.

Who knows how many people in that village that night were Giants fans? Many were no doubt Colts fans who adopted the Giants for two weeks. But many were probably just football fans, or just citizens who casually watch sports but were eager to be part of something. That village served those people well all week, and it served them well after the game. It was a theme park, FootballLand, and seeing happy people milling about, drinking beers and cheering and just being part of a scene, gave me a much-needed energy boost. I have a lucky person job. Sometimes, I have to stop and enjoy the blur for all of its magnificence.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 25 Feb 2012

49 comments, Last at 06 Mar 2012, 8:13pm by Intropy

Comments

1
by Grammar Girl (not verified) :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 6:36pm

A sensor is very different from a censor.....

2
by Intropy :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 7:33pm

And censure is very different from a censer.

3
by Harris :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 9:10pm

And don't even get started on the Centaurs.

5
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 9:53pm

There all their when there they're. Maybe than, maybe then?

14
by andrew :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 1:04pm

Paging mr. Joe Senser

29
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 6:34am

Tell me about it! Always bloody striking. They may look half horse, half human, but I think really they're half London Underground driver and half French.

4
by JonFrum :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 9:51pm

I bought a heart rate monitor off Amazon.com a few years ago for about $15. Works great for jogging - keep your heart rate where you want it. No need for a Spiderman suit in any case.

6
by Theo :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 10:37pm

While looking at pictures from the combine, I've noticed all the players have beards...

7
by Sad (not verified) :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 11:25pm

Mike - You're better than this....did you just take Saturday off? Something interesting about offensive lineman running about....couldn't you save this article for when there was no actual activity happening...like next week? Probably just spoiled your good stuff....

10
by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 10:10am

I think it's pretty likely that he was the NY Times paid him to go there and they probably told him to cover the podium stuff. I think these FO articles are bonus stuff for his readers here.

21
by Mike Tanier :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 5:16pm

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Also, when at the Combine, you don't actually see much Combine. You are in the media room to do interviews on Thursday and Friday. Saturday is split: there are fewer interviews, but you can only watch the workouts on TV. On Sunday, the media availability ends. I usually head home on Saturday because it is more cost effective, and my plane was mid day.

I try to give you guys a thorough rundown of all the pressers and interviews, with Ryan and Coughlin going to a certain newspaper, along with other stuff getting reserved for future use. And I am always shooting for the offbeat/opinionated, of course, because you can get the 40 times and all elsewhere!

8
by Lebo :: Sat, 02/25/2012 - 11:54pm

"Reese and Cruz remind us that much of what we perceive as scouting is really development. And development involves both good coaching and good roster management..."

I often find myself wondering which of these elements, scouting or development (or is it both?), the Patriots are lacking when it comes to DBs.

30
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 6:37am

I'm not convinced anyone is able to reliably scout corners, which makes drafting them essentially a crapshoot. The Patriots may just be on a run of bad luck.

9
by Briguy :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 12:11am

I'm still trying to figure out whether "mass market" was pun intended....

11
by navin :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 10:45am

Ingram is amazing. Here is a fake punt TD run he had against Georgia. Ingram played RB in high school.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5c2efZXuQY&feature=related

He also scored a defensive TD in the game and recovered the final onsides kick (he plays on the hands team).

12
by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 11:01am

Steven Hill (4.30) and Malcolm Floyd (4.42) just made a load of money.

Not so much Juron Criner 4.59 and Alshon Jeffrey (DNP).

And of course RGIII 4.38, which is the same speed as Vernon Davis for the sake of comparison.

15
by justanothersteve :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 2:58pm

RG3 could also toss every ball on target on a rope up to 70 yds, do 45 presses, and get a 49 on the Wonderlic. Andrew Luck will still be the first pick in the draft. Tanier may have said it funnier, but he nailed the truth of the matter.

35
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 11:55am

As a Colts fan, I hope that isn't true. I hope they are at least considering RG3, he seems like a pretty impressive kid.

36
by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 1:58pm

Yes, he is impressive. He's also considerably shorter. If I have to choose between two tenths of a second faster in the forty, or three or four inches taller while trying to find a receiver over tall linemen, I'm choosing the latter.

39
by AnonymousBoob (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 4:36pm

An inch and 5/8ths shorter at the combine.

I would take Luck as well, but Griffin's legit 6-2+ height has changed my opinion of him quite a bit.

40
by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 5:40pm

Shows how much I pay attention to college players as pro prospects; I though Luck was 6 foot 5. If he less than 6 foot 4, I don't rate him all that much higher than Griffin.

37
by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 1:58pm

Yes, he is impressive. He's also considerably shorter. If I have to choose between two tenths of a second faster in the forty, or three or four inches taller while trying to find a receiver over tall linemen, I'm choosing the latter.

20
by Mike Tanier :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 5:09pm

Jeffrey helped himself by not being fat.

I was hoping Criner would run better because I like a lot of his game. Still like him in the mid rounds.

25
by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 8:26pm

Russ Lande had Criner going to the niners with the 30th pick, I don't know much about him but I think that a 4.68 puts an end to that when other guys have done so well. However, considering that Jerry Rice never broke 4.65 in his life it shouldn't matter. Mike Mayock made a point during the combine coverage (talking about either Brian Quick or Reuben Randle) where he pointed out that one of the tall receivers who
ran a 4.55ish was not a quick-twitch athlete and he played faster than his combine time. That makes some sense as a player who wasn't quick-twitch would have higher endurance, having the ability to maintain his speed through the course of the game.

Is it possible that Jeffrey 'made his weight', sweating it down like a boxer or a wrester and that was why he didn't work out? There were reports he didn't look very cut and even a good workout leaves him without any comparison to the other receivers.

13
by JMM* (not verified) :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 11:09am

Any chance Under Armour licenses that cool tech to Riddle and other helmet producers for head injury monoturing? Maybe 'do rags?

16
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 4:31pm

About 9 years too late. Riddell optioned this in 2004 or 2005.

http://www.simbex.com/Riddell_IQ_HITS.htm

17
by MC2 :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 4:47pm

It will be interesting to see if Mike Smith does remain as aggressive on 4th down. He said the same thing after the failed conversion vs. the Saints, but he seemed to me to go into an unusually conservative shell for about the next month, before returning to his typically aggressive style. I'm wondering if we'll see a similar "hangover effect" at the start of next year.

18
by MC2 :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 4:50pm

Reese and Cruz remind us that much of what we perceive as scouting is really development.

While there is some truth to this, unfortunately this is also the kind of logic that leads so many people to say things like, "Wow, Tebow has the potential to be the next Steve Young, if only they can find the right QB coach to straighten him out!"

19
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 4:58pm

Steve Young didn't become Steve Young until 4 years and 25 starts as a pro QB, including two years under Walsh and Montana, with Jerry Rice as his #1 WR.

I'm not saying Tebow is Young, but Young had a lot of institutional advantages.

22
by MC2 :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 6:38pm

My point was that even when he first came out of college, Young was far more advanced as a passer than Tebow currently is (or probably ever will be).

To put it another way, player development is important, but no matter how good you are at developing players, you can't polish a turd, which is something that many people seem unwilling to accept.

23
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 6:47pm

I get that (I do).

But Young was surprisingly turd-like until year 5.

26
by MC2 :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 12:28am

Well, Young did show flashes of brilliance in his early years (enough to make Bill Walsh feel comfortable with putting the future of the franchise in his hands), but you're right that he was obviously a bit of a late bloomer, and probably not the best example of my point. But I mentioned him because he's the comparison most often made by the Tebow fanboys, and Tebow is currently the ultimate example of the myth that any player can become great, if only they get enough good coaching.

28
by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 2:47am

I am no Tebow fan, but I'd still say he has a 20-25 percent chance tp become a mediocre NFL passer, and if he does that, he'll be an above-average QB.

Now, the real question is why anyone would give reps to a guy who only has a 20-25 percent chance of being a mediocre passer.

31
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 6:45am

It might make sense if either 1. You were committed to implementing a wacky college-style run-first offense as a way of building a viable unit at a very low cap cost while concentrating resources on defense or 2. You really needed to sell more tickets for your home games in Florida.

41
by MC2 :: Tue, 02/28/2012 - 1:24am

Of course, it depends on what you mean by "mediocre NFL passer", but if you define that as a guy that completes 60% of his passes (while throwing more than a handful of passes per game), I'd put the chances of Tebow ever getting to that level at more like 10%. And even then, he wouldn't necessarily be a Top 10 QB, especially if, as is often the case with running QBs (e.g. McNabb), his rushing numbers decline as his passing numbers improve.

42
by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/28/2012 - 1:48am

So you say 10 %, and I say 20%. There's a decent chance that neither of us know what we are talking about.

43
by Intropy :: Tue, 02/28/2012 - 3:14am

I'd say there's a 37% chance neither of you know what you're talking about. Double that for me.

44
by tuluse :: Tue, 02/28/2012 - 11:41am

47% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

45
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 12:05pm

Yes but 100% of people that eat food will die.

46
by Intropy :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 3:53pm

False. (nearly) 100% of all people have eaten food. 108 billion people have ever lived. 7 billion people are currently alive. Therefore only (108 - 7) / 108 = 93.5% of all people that eat food will die.

48
by tuluse :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 6:25pm

He said will die, not have died.

49
by Intropy :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 8:13pm

Well yeah. I thought we were having fun lying with statistics. Everything I wrote in this leaf is pretty dumb.

47
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 5:47pm

I'm pretty sure that 100% of people who DON'T eat food will die, therefore eating food has no correlation with being alive.

24
by Intropy :: Sun, 02/26/2012 - 7:24pm

Completely untrue. You can polish a turd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiJ9fy1qSFI.

27
by MC2 :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 12:31am

Perhaps, but the real question is: Can you polish a Tebow? If those Myth Buster guys can get Forrest Gump to consistently complete 60% of his passes, then I'll really be impressed.

34
by SandyRiver :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 9:51am

But that polished turd still stunk.

32
by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 8:45am

"I was on a lot more street corners during Super Bowl week than the coach was."

My Dad once warned me about people that hang on street corners, but I don't think he was talking about former math teachers.

33
by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 9:44am

Oh, those bastards......they get their victims started on multiplication tables, and once that thrill wears off, it's on to fractions and percentages, and then on to algebra. Once they really get their junkies hooked, they get them mainlining calculus!

38
by smkoers (not verified) :: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 3:39pm

Thanks for the great mention on Sun King, Mike. You are welcome for the beer, and of course, the restroom! We'll give you a full tour next time you are in town!