Why Ndamukong Suh has to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Written by Curt Popejoy on 02/18/2010
Before I get too far into this, let me explain my stance on the NFL Scouting Combine. For me personally I only use it to gauge players I haven't gotten to see play. Nothing gets me more than draft sites that list players and rank them knowing full well they've never seen many of them play. I get emails after the draft every season asking me why I didn't have this player or that player ranked and they were drafted. Because I am honest. I don't feel right ranking players I haven't scouted myself. If you are going to base your rankings on other people's work, at least give them credit you hacks.
Ok, rant over. What the combine does for prospects is, it gives them a chance to get up close and personal with every NFL team and their scouting departments and there is no doubt in the eyes of NFL teams these drills and tests have value and that's really all that matters. Players will spend a week getting poked and prodded and measured and put through physical drills and psychological/medical evaluations and it all centers around either cementing their draft stock, improving it, or trying not to lose ground.
The Combine has always done more for the players who may not be elite prospects than it ever does for the real top of the draft. Those guys are a given, right? Not so much. Well, I say that, but short of a total meltdown, the first round guys are in good shape regardless of their Combine. Hell even a total meltdown might not cost a top prospect. Look at Andre Smith last year, and he still finished up a top 10 draft pick. But this year, things are different.
Massive Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been the draft buzz since the Big 12 title game when the rest of the world got to see just how amazing a player he is. For most, he became the consensus no.1 player and therefore anointed the top pick in the draft to the St. Louis Rams. Not a bad deal, right? So, if this is the case, then why is it that Suh's agent Roosevelt Barnes has come out and said that Suh plans to participate fully in drills at the Combine? I have read a few comments around the internet in the past day or so that have made me really laugh. All about what a mistake Suh is making by working out, and he has nothing to gain from it. To me, that's just nonsense. And here's why.
First, the Rams are a team in need of many positions and already have two high first round picks on their defensive linemen and how's that working out for them? The Rams have already declared their need for a quarterback by indicating they may try and trade for a veteran QB, so you cannot rule out them drafting one no.1 overall. Suh and his agent understand that and they understand how rare it is for an interior defensive lineman to be drafted no.1 overall. Suh is still trying to sell himself because clearly the Rams have not given him the impression they are sold on him.
Second is Todd McShay. McShay has come out publicly and indicated he considers Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy a better prospect and should be drafted ahead of Suh. Like him or hate him, McShay's work has some pull among the NFL. And I am confident that when his mock draft came out and McCoy was planted at no.1 overall to the Rams, Suh and his agent took notice. Assuming McCoy is working out at the combine, Suh wants to show him up in the only side by side comparison teams will get. Personally, I have watched every game both of these guys have played and while I think McCoy is a great player, I put Suh ahead in several aspects of his game.
Finally, it's the trade factor. If the Rams aren't sold on drafting Suh, and chose to go with a quarterback, that doesn't change just how valuable a player Suh can be for many teams. And it's rare in the NFL draft that there is a player like Suh, who teams are so enamored with. Because of this, even if he can't go no.1 overall to the Rams, he could make himself so indispensable that some team feels they have to trade up for him, and he still goes no.1 overall.
This combine is vital for Suh, assuming that he wants to quiet his critics and affirm his supporters that he is clearly the best prospect in this draft. I fully expect Suh to be in the spotlight the entire week and the NFL Network is going to beat us over the head with him. But I also expect Suh to have a great workout. He's going to interview and test out really well and while I don't expect him to be some sort of off the charts triangle guy, he'll impress with his athleticism and power. What will all of that mean? It's hard to say, but I understand why Suh feels like he has to do this, and I applaud him for not being satisfied with staying put and wanting to cement his draft position. More players could learn from him. If you are great, you can show it anytime and anywhere.
Last Edited: 02/18/2010