The only certainty about the NFL Draft is "uncertainty." Every pick in the draft is a shot in the dark, with teams choosing players they think have the best chance of being a difference maker. No player is ever a guarantee because teams can't predict the future and college play doesn't translate perfectly into the NFL. Since teams can't just judge the players off of college play, they often look to the Combine, which is a culmination of football and athleticism drills. Almost every top player attends to showcase their skills.
All too often teams overvalue the Combine. Just because a player can run 40 yards in under 4.3 seconds or can bench press 225 pounds 50 times doesn't mean that he will be a great NFL player. They still have to be a good football player, because they aren't doing these drills on game-days. All that matters is their football skills. They might be able to bench press 800 pounds but that doesn't mean they can play football. The contrary may also be true; they might not be able to bench 225 pounds, but could still be one of the greatest players ever.
In the end, the NFL Combine should not be as highly valued as it is, and I will be listing the living proof. The people on this list dominated at the Combine, and if games were won by Combine drills, these players would be Super Bowl champions, but the harsh reality is that it isn't. These players had teams drooling over their athletic abilities only to leave them confused and frustrated when they couldn't perform on Sundays. You can't blame the players though. Of course they are going to try to put up the best numbers possible at the combine, because they want their draft stock to go up, but that's exactly the problem.
Here are the top 15 NFL Combine standouts that were busts.
15 Dri Archer
14 Rae Carruth
13 Bruce Campbell
Campbell is currently playing in the Canadian Football League, but once upon a time he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Maryland. As an offensive lineman, any 40-yard dash time under 5 seconds is exceptional. Campbell ran a 4.75, which would place him at the top of the league in terms of speed. His size was also an asset.. Standing at 6'6 and 315 pounds, he is a big boy. His 34 bench press reps attest to his strength.
12 Darrius Heyward-Bey
Heyward-Bey still seems like he should be a great NFL receiver. The scouts fell for his big build and athleticism and I can't blame them. He looked to be a sure thing when he got drafted 7th overall in 2009. He was a track star at the University of Maryland where he ran a 4.30, 40-yard dash. He performed well in the football drills at the Combine as well.
11 Matt Jones
Not the running back that plays for the Washington Redskins, but the wide receiver Matt Jones that got drafted 21st overall in 2005 by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Scouts and GMs were extremely high on him. Jones was a 6'6 quarterback at the University of Arkansas but coming into the league he was hoping to become a receiver.
He ran a blistering 4.37, 40-yard dash and his vertical jump was nearly 40 inches. He was a freakish athlete but had little experience playing the WR position. Needless to say, he fell well short of expectations. He had a short career and retired in 2010 after being cut by the Bengals.
10 Fabian Washington
9 Chris Henry
8 Tye Hill
7 Troy Williamson
6 Brodrick Bunkley
5 Mike Mamula
4 Aaron Curry
3 Tim Tebow
Ahh, Tim Tebow, where do I start? The guy had it all as a Florida Gator, two National titles and a Heismann, but he couldn't find a home in the NFL. Many GMs wanted to convert him to a tight end or running back but he decided to stay as a QB. He impressed in the quarterback drills at the Combine with his new and quicker release leading him to get drafted by the Broncos 25th overall in 2010. He was a backup on the Broncos and every other team he has played for.
2 Vernon Gholston
1 Tony Mandarich
Mandarich is the poster child for combine frauds. He is a former offensive tackle from Michigan State. Taken 2nd overall in the 1989 draft by the Packers, Mandarich was called "the best offensive line prospect ever," by Sports Illustrated. Mandarich ran a 4.65, 40-yard dash, and had 39 bench press reps which was unheard of at the time. It all sounded too good to be true. That's because it was, Mandarich was a steroid-fueled monster. Standing at 6'6 and tipping the scales at 330, he was dubbed, "the Incredible Bulk." In his career, he was an alcoholic addicted to painkillers and teams quickly found out. Mandarich was relegated to backup status for most of his career due to his poor play.
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