The NFL combine this weekend in Indianapolis has seen some fairly unremarkable events. Kids get their height and weight checked – Teddy Bridgewater has put on weight since his last game for Louisville incidentally – and their hands measured as though the precise measurement of someone is going to make a difference to the teams ready to spend millions of dollars on these young men. Let me speculate here now that if Johnny Manziel was 6′ exactly or 6’2″ it wouldn’t have made a whole lot of difference to the teams that are ready to use their first round pick on him. They saw what he can do all season long. He has big hands? Okay…so? Again, they saw it.
The bench press test is another interesting one. A bench press is something that guys do not do during a football game. One extended push against a moving target is not replicable in a gym with a barbell. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was an absolute beast the season before last before enduring a slightly tougher season just past, managed 21 reps of 225lbs. Miami punter Pat O’Donnell (who has put up impressive numbers during the combine) managed 23 reps. So what? Can Pat O’Donnell do this?
No, he can’t.
Clowney then put on a show in the 40 yard dash. Again, this is an odd test of speed and one that isn’t always that reliable as an assessment of how a guy will cope in the NFL. Except Clowney posted 4.47 seconds for his 40 yard dash. Johnny Manziel ran 4.68.
To me, this seals the deal. Manziel was spectacular in college, but too often relied on spectacular plays by his wide receivers to get him out of situations that he frequently got himself into. Watch any Manziel highlight film and you’ll see him scampering around before launching a bomb that is thrown into coverage only for someone like Mike Evans to make the play. The Texans do need a new quarterback – Matt Schaub is no longer even serviceable – but I suspect they will either take one in the second round and then sign a free agent with experience to fill in for the upcoming season, or else just bide their time and look to take someone like Brett Hundley from UCLA in 2015.
Clowney has personal issues, for sure. Coach Spurrier said that Clowney had issues with his work ethic. He has been caught speeding twice since the end of the season. Bill O’Brien will want to be sure that Clowney, suspected of coasting through his final collegiate season (and let’s not forget that teams prepared for Clowney this past season, double teaming him or matching him up with their best offensive linemen), has the ability to amp up his effort for the big show.
If the Texans do take Clowney, they will be pairing him up with fellow-irresistable force JJ Watt on their defensive line. Watt is a high-character guy and the perfect veteran (three years in, of course) to show Clowney the ropes. The Texans will likely lose receiver Andre Johnson before they are in shape to make a run at the Superbowl, but Clowney gives them the defensive platform to contend very soon. If they take him.