What We Learned at the 2012 NFL Combine

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bill-swift - March 1, 2012

Another year gone by means another "Underwear Olympics" or "NFL Meat Market" is in the books. I'm talking about the annual job interview for hundreds of prospective college football players hoping to strike it big in the NFL otherwise known as the NFL Combine.

The concept of the Combine began as a series of camps used to evaluate college talent back in 1982, but was condensed down to one in 1985. Since 1987 some of the most incredible athletes known to man have made their way to Indianapolis (prior to Indianapolis they were held in Arizona in '85 and New Orleans in '84 and '86) to hopefully improve their chances of making it to the NFL.

While the physical tests may be outdated and not real indicative of how well a person can play football, it's what the NFL does. Regardless of your perception of the annual rite of passage, once it is done there are always several lessons that we can take from it.

This year is no different:

I almost hate to state the obvious, but it appears that Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are the real deal. Griffin aced the interview and blew people away with a 4.35 40-yard dash, easily the fastest by a quarterback in over a decade. Luck proved that his physical prowess is more than up to the task of playing in the NFL by recording marks that were better than or comparable to Cam Newton's.

Never ever judge a book by its cover. Take the curious case of Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe. As a nose tackle you expect the man to be a big, lumbering, run-stopping mass—and he is. Poe stands 6-foot 4-inches and weighed in at 346 pounds. It's not all flab though; the man set the high mark for the bench press this year throwing up 225 pounds 44 times.

However, where Poe really turned heads was in the 40-yard dash. When he stepped up to the mark some comedians were probably breaking out their sun dials, but the man was clocked at 4.87 seconds. Let me just say that again—a 346 pound, really strong guy ran really, really fast.

Teams may be willing to overlook a lot of things—drug use, extensive criminal records, cheating, and all sorts of other destructive behavior—but they may finally be drawing the line when it comes to family related issues. Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins was kicked off the team last April after his third arrest, but it's the fact that the 23-year old has four children by three different women.

Jenkins was open and honest about everything; the only move he could make given the situation. However, teams have seen what can happen with guys like this (i.e. Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie, nine children, eight moms, six states; Travis Henry, 11 children by 10 mothers) and it is not a distraction they want to have.

Agents are dumb. Several of them bashed Arizona Cardinals strength coach John Lott for pushing guys at the bench press test claiming that how much these guys can lift with their arms doesn't win or lose the game. That's good, especially since the bench press works the chest.

GMs are not complete idiots. After last year's fiasco where Dez Bryant was questioned by Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland about his ‘prostitute' mother no one appears to have asked any incredibly inflammatory or stupid questions this year.

There were several players that really stood out. When it comes to the draft next month expect to hear a lot of these names early. Than expect to see them kicking ass and taking names next fall on Sundays: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College; Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech; Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia; Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC; Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina; Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal; Matt Kalil, OT, USC; Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.

These guys will have to do much better during their Pro Days if they want to hear their name called sooner rather than later (or at all) in the draft: Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina; Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor; Sean Spence, LB, Miami; Rueben Randle, WR, LSU; Vontze Burfict, LB, Arizona State; Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State; Michael Brockers, DT, LSU; Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin.

Article by Travis Pulver