Saturday, 25 February 2012

Grab your A1 Steak sauce it's time for the NFL meat market

It's time to sharpen the knives, get the bar-b-q sauce and a six pack of sesame seed buns as the NFL's first official event of the 2012-2013 season launches today.

Yes it's time for the annual NFL combine, a weird mix of young athletes in skin-tight spandex running in and out of cones as a large number of older men ogle over their muscular bodies, taking notes and asking doctors to prod and poke them like a chimp would an ant filled piece of bark.

Today sees the 21 year old offensive linemen running a 40 yard dash. I have to confess watching this particular part of the combine made me bring up my lunch a few years ago when I watched Mr Blobby oops I mean Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith attempt to show some sort of speed. I still don't know how he got drafted so high considering he looked like Big Momma running down the track.

The combine is arguably a case of 'too much information' as I think anyone who wants to watch a sixth-round projected offensive guard run round a cone and then lumber off-camera is a little twisted.

The fun of the combine comes from two elements, brute-strength weight-lifting and the 40-yard-dash (for those players that intend to run it in under 4.40 seconds). Even these elements can be deceiving as they alone do not equate NFL success.

NFL scouts are not stupid, they will spend hundreds of hours in their basement, eyes propped open by matchsticks watching a prospect's entire college career on film. When they come to the combine in Indianapolis they are just reassuring their GM's that the man they think they should get in the first or second round is really ready, and has not been keeping an old PCL injury hidden from his C.V.

One of the disappointing aspects of the 2012 combine is the fact Robert Griffin III (see picture above) the quarterback from Baylor, who is expected to be the second passer selected, will not be throwing at Lucas oil Stadium.

With the vast majority of the planet expecting the Indianapolis Colts to select Stanford QB Andrew Luck the saga of RG3 (as he is known to fans) is perhaps the most interesting. The Redskins would be a great fit for RG3, but they will need to trade away two years worth of draft picks to get him. This leaves the Cleveland Browns as the likely candidates for RG3.

The last time the Browns went wild for a quarterback it wasn't exactly a marriage made in heaven as they drafted Tim Couch as the number one overall pick in 1999. Couch lasted five injury filled seasons in Ohio, ending up throwing more interceptions than touchdowns and never got to an 80.0 passer rating in half a decade of NFL passing.

The Browns have had 12 different quarterbacks since Couch threw his last pass in Cleveland (in 2003) and about as much consistency as my bowels after a Saturday night visit to the local balti house for a takeaway Bhuna.

Carrying on about the combine I am looking forward to watching the tight-ends doing their 40-yard-dashes. Following the 'discovery' of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez (both New England Patriots) and Jimmy Graham (New Orleans Saints) scouts will have been told to find the next best thing since sliced bread tight-end. More to come once I have had a good look at them, as they are on at 5.30pm UK time today.

My next personal mission is going to try and interview an NFL scout for the Primetime Sports blog. About as close as I have got so far is listening to former NFL scout Matt Williamson on the ESPN Football Today podcast.

It may be a long long way until September but seeing college athletes in cycling shorts and ill-fitting spandex tops sure gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. No lockout, no free-agency freeze, just football - albeit without the pads and helmets at the moment.

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