During an interview on ESPN radio, Polian suggested the Combine serves three purposes – medical, psychological, and the 40-yard dash. According to Polian, in addition to evaluating past injuries, the medical evaluations are consistently thorough enough to also reveal previously undetected life-threatening (presumably heart) ailments. Such may be true, as only recently (2005) was Virginia senior TE Jonathan Stupar diagnosed with Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome, a previously undetected, but potentially fatal heart condition.
Psychological evaluations include psychological and personality tests, the Wonderlic intelligence test, personal interviews, and of course, the dreaded chalkboard. No need to explain this one. A team has to filter the good apples from the rotten ones. I mean what team can afford to draft head cases (Jeremy Shockey, Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, Michael Westbrook) and… (I don’t want to get sued for libel)… the like (Bob Sapp, Lawrence Phillips, Maurice Clarett, etc.).
The 40-yard dash, of course, is a staple of the scouting process that as Polian revealed, can also lead to mistakes.
When asked (and I’m paraphrasing here) to recall his most memorable Combine blunder (player he overlooked due to Combine performance), Polian evoked the name – Wes Welker. Ouch – and as an undrafted fee agent, Polian clearly wasn’t the only one to overlook the league’s reigning receptions champ.
According to Polian, Welker’s 40-yard time did not fit within the team’s parameters, and like many he overlooked Welker’s production, toughness, and intelligence. So please people, as you watch the Combine over the next week or so, please bear Wes Welker in mind when salivating over the stopwatch. And much gratitude to Bill Polian, whose resume and draft history will never be questioned, for stepping out and characterizing the Combine so well.