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Orlando Brown Jr. Serves as a Reminder That the NFL Combine Doesn’t Really Matter

February 08, 2019 - 7:55 am
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By Joe Schiller

Starting February 26th, 338 individuals will embark on a journey to Indianapolis, Indiana for the annual NFL Combine.

The “Underwear Olympics,” as many like to call it, is a time for players to showcase their athletic skills for all 32 teams in drills like the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, and 3 cone drill among others.

They also undergo countless interviews, physical measurements and even injury evaluations.

The combine has become a spectacle of the NFL offseason, so much that it’s regularly televised. And while running a 4.3 second 40-yard dash and putting up 35 reps of 225 pounds is impressive in the moment, here’s a friendly reminder that the results don’t tell all.

Just ask Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. about that.

Brown, a 2018 third-round pick, started 10 games at right tackle for the Ravens last season. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed zero sacks and one quarterback hit in 760 snaps.

The son of Orlando “Zeus” Brown, Orlando Brown Jr., fell under mockery around this time just one year ago after a historically bad combine performance.

He finished with a 5.85 40-yard dash, 19.5” vertical jump, 82” broad jump and 14 bench press reps.

The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman put those numbers into perspective for the 6’8”, 345-pound lineman at the time.

Brown’s draft stock took a significant hit, despite the success he saw at Oklahoma blocking for a Heisman Trophy winner in Baker Mayfield. By all accounts, he's proven to be a steal for the Ravens through on season

We become infatuated with combine numbers every year. Maybe it’s because that’s the only thing to focus on at the time. Contrary to Brown, we’ve seen the reverse effect happen to players.

Take the 40-yard dash for example, since it’s arguably the most well-known event at the combine. Of the top 10 fastest times in combine history, few have had successful NFL careers like Chris Johnson and Donte Stallworth. Others such as Dri Archer, Stanford Routt, Demarcus Van Dyke, and Jerome Mathis became forgotten about after their 40 seconds of fame.

Ravens fans saw the struggles of Breshad Perriman, who jumped up draft boards in 2015 following impressive speed. Singular traits don’t necessarily translate to success at the professional level.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the NFL Combine. I, like many others, need to cure my offseason boredom with as much football as possible.

But don’t be quick to predict careers based off one trial run you saw from a college prospect.

It doesn't work like that.