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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Buckeyes Prepare For The Rigors Of The NFL Combine

(Post originally posted to Along The Olentangy on 02/20/2011)

The NFL Combine has become an oasis for thirsty football fans everywhere. Eager for any and all information after the Super Bowl, the NFL Combine provides college football fans a small glimpse into how NFL teams value (or do not value) their former stars, while also giving NFL fans a preview of the incoming talent that will be available in the upcoming NFL Draft April 28-30.

The NFL Combine's primary benefits are to conduct extensive physical examinations of the players, schedule player interviews with interested team personnel, and have the players perform in various drills. In short, the teams rely heavily on their scouts and actual game film of the players - the NFL Combine simply allows teams to confirm or potentially reevaluate their rankings after the combine concludes.

Ohio State is sending a large contingent of players to this year's NFL Combine. DL Cameron Heyward, CB Chimdi Chekwa, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, OG Justin Boren, RB Brandon Saine, LB Ross Homan, LB Brian Rolle, DB Jermale Hines, and CB Devon Torrence all will have opportunities to make positive impressions on NFL decision makers.

The first suggestion for virtually every one of these players is to participate in every NFL drill possible. Look for the usual reports of NFL personnel grumbling about top prospects not working out to surface at the conclusion of the combine. Considering most of the Ohio State players are going to be third day selections (projected rounds four through seven), it is imperative that every Buckeye performs well here, and at the Ohio State pro day that will be scheduled for some time in March in Columbus.

One purely speculative idea on my part - keep your eyes and ears open for how Brandon Saine performs at the Combine. While Saine struggled in the running game this year, Saine has exceptional speed (Ohio state record holder in the 100 meter dash at 10.38; listed with a 4.35 40) and should test well. It would not surprise me if Saine performed both as a running back and as a wide receiver during drills.

DL Cameron Heyward may actually get a pass in the eyes of the evaluators. Heyward is coming off surgery performed in late January for a hyperextended elbow sustained during the Sugar Bowl - it may be best to postpone any workouts until properly healed.

The same could be said for CB Chimdi Chekwa. Chekwa suffered a dislocated wrist during the Sugar Bowl, and the injury was severe enough to require surgery. If Chekwa's wrist is not fully healed, it may be in his best interests to postpone any type of workout at the combine.

For both Heyward and Chekwa, these injuries are going to be zeroed in upon by NFL personnel at the NFL Combine. NFL teams are notorious for their thoroughness with finding out anything and everything as it relates to past injury history, so Heyward and Chekwa should be prepared to be drilled about these injuries during the interviews. The same could apply to Dane Sanzenbacher, who sustained his fair share of concussions during his time in Columbus.

Like every other football fan out there, I am going to be curious to find out how players performed under the lights of the NFL Combine. Hopefully, the various players from Ohio State will be among those players deemed to be on the "risers" list at the Combine's conclusion.

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