The term "underwear olympics" was mentioned often in NFL Network's coverage of the 2012 NFL combine. Though a quarky and unfitting description of any NFL event, the overused phrase made sense within the confines of the various drills held at the combine. For example, a football player neither runs in a straight line for 40 yards in a game unperturbed by a defender nor rarely catches a football unchallenged by a defensive back. Though many of the drills held at a combine are a reflection of an individuals physical skill set, work ethic, and star potential, it does not always represent on-field success. It is important to remember that the combine is complimentary and hardly ever the answer when it comes to assessing prospective pro football players.
During the NFL combine coverage of the QB, WR, and RB positions, a number of individuals jumped out: some sent mixed messages, while others corroborated their on-field game play. Two of the WRs that made national headlines were Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) and Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) for their dashing display of athleticism this past Sunday.
Michael Floyd, 6'2" 220 lbs, a WR from Notre Dame, is a top 3 WR on most draft boards due to his size and production (271 receptions, 3686 yards, 37 TDs). The burning question that most scouts had about Michael Floyd (aside from his extracurricular concerns) was his straight line speed.
On film, Michael Floyd's weakness is his lack of concentration on deep routes. Floyd also catches the ball very close to his body and almost appears to be fighting the football as it comes into his hands. His route running is mediocre at best. He gets seperation from defenders by using his size. He does not have spectacular speed running down the field. Many scouts and websites had Michael Floyd running a ~4.5 second 40 yard dash.
On Sunday, the Minnesota native ran the 40 yard dash in 4.42 seconds (unofficially), which was a tenth of a second better than what most scouts expected. However, Michael Floyd had only an average day in on-field drills, struggling to catch a ball during "the Gaunlet" drill and bobbling the ball on a post corner route.
Though, Michael Floyd may have opened eyes with his straight line speed, he also corroborated his on-field play with the various passing drills held at the NFL combine.
Stephen Hill, 6'4" 215 lbs, was the 11th ranked WR and 92nd ranked player in this year's NFL draft according to cbssports.com.
Stephen Hill had very few film of him catching the football. His biggest highlight was his game against North Carolina (6 receptions, 151 yards, 1 TD), where Hill hauled in an amazing one-handed grab on a ten yard route near the sideline. In that game, Hill also caught a wide open 50 yard+ pass for a touchdown. However, in that very same game, Hill dropped a wide open pass that bounced off his chest during a blown coverage. Additionally, Stephen Hill does not have the toughness to gain extra yards after the catch. Hill does not break tackles once a defender has made contact with him.
On Sunday, Hill made national headlines for running a 4.30 second 40 yard dash and dazzled the fans with a diving catch during "go" route where the pass was to be placed on the WR's outside shoulder. Hill finished the evening with no drops in all on-field drills leaving many fans with an appetite for more. Many sports journalist drew the connection between the slinky tall wide reciever with blazing speed and great catching ability and concluded that Hill was a top prospect at the WR position.
Though there were flashes of greatness from Stephen Hill that was reminiscent of a slinky-tall receiver from Marshall heading into the 1998 draft i.e Randy Moss, there are still questions regarding his production level at Georgia Tech as well as his decision to leave Georgia Tech after his Junior season. Statistically, Stephen Hill caught 28 receptions his junior year at Georgia Tech and 45 receptions his entire college career, a low compared to most wide receivers headed to the NFL draft. Most WRs coming out of Georgira Tech that have successful NFL tenures are typically productive in College i.e. Calvin Johnson and Demaryious Thomas.
Rising pending more research
Date: March 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Comment: Alright... I really appreciate the response but at the same time you really didnt defend any of the points you had previously made with the information that I provided... i.e his ability to take a play the distance, as you noted in another response his alligator arms (yes he should break tackles but no he does not get scared), his lack of concentration on deep balls... In all honesty man, I am not trying to be rude but you could have just typed his name in Google and gotten more accurate information... his hands, misses one here or there but plucks the ball out of the air and his route running, that was what he continued to receive tons of praise for last year... and you forgot his ability to block
Date: March 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Comment: How much of Floyds career have you watched, seriously, how many games have you seen? Did you watch any games with Clausen as his QB? He didnt catch deep balls the last 2yrs not because he cant run by people, which he did plenty of with Clausen, but because the QB (Rees) could throw the ball 30yds at most on his best day. I can think of multiple plays where he caught a swing pass at the line of scrimmage and ran 40,50,60,70 yards plus and no one caught him. I dont think he will run away from people in the NFL but he does have the ability to beat CBs... Also he is by far and away one of the best deep ball/jump ball WR's to come in the NFL in a while, he rarely drops a deep ball due to concentration, if anything I have watched him for 4yrs thinking the exact opposite and thinking just throw it up in the air and he is almost guaranteed to come down with it... And alligator arms, man your crazy, haha... that kid has taken some of the biggest shots I think a CB or S can deliver and he keeps on... I have seen every game and I know your job is to write articles but you really need to watch his footage with Jimmy Clausen and then tell us what you think...
Date: March 11, 2012 at 3:47 PM
Comment: Is the stock in your opinion? Because Todd Mcshay, Mel Kiper, and Mike Mayock can all attest to the fact of Floyd's rising stock. He has solidified himself as a mid first round guy. It's undeniable that he has some of the best jump ball skills in the country, which allows him to be a great red zone threat as well. If you think Floyd's stock hasn't improved then that is a completely different matter. Just everyone disagrees with you.
Date: March 11, 2012 at 9:16 AM
Comment: I don't understand why they don't have the players work out with their football gear on. It would be much more accurate for their true NFL speed and agility!
Date: March 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM
Comment: Great article!
FYI - "Underwear Olympics" was actually coined by Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com.
Date: March 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Comment: I agree. As you stated, there is absolutely no pressure on the player except the fact that millions of people and scouting agents are watching, which is expected in a real game anyways. Sometimes numbers from the combine alone mean nothing. (Unless, of course, this is Madden then we would go for the 4.2-3 40 yard dash receivers and the 35 bench reps for linemen) As Rick said in the previous comment, "those of all who followed football long enough know for a fact that limited tape means the player wasn't making plays. Since all we have to grade a player are his videos". Very well said and done. Waiting on more well-said and analyzed articles! Keep up the great work!
Date: March 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM
Bro, those of all who followed football long enough know for a fact that limited tape means the player wasn't making plays. Since all we have to grade a player are his videos, the burden's on him to play the shit out of his games and give us enough tape to start with. Some players love to use the excuse 'well, i can't control the camera guy,' NO! Because he's busy filming the guys who are making plays.
Date: March 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM
Comment: I was let down by all of those guys. The hype going into their comdine performances, spectacular! Their performances - not so much.
Date: March 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Comment: I thought I was the only who felt that way about Hill. He knew he wasn't shining at Georgia and that's why he left. He's inconsistent. That's a big problem I have with players these days. Even Johnson was questionable and he out performed Hill.
By: Matt R.J.
Date: March 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM
Comment: Thanks! I'll be reviewing vids on Greg and Gerell later today.
Date: March 7, 2012 at 3:58 PM
Comment: The 2 wideouts that the 49ers should focus on are Chris Givens of Wake Forest and Marvin McNutt of Iowa. Both of these guys are much better than hill and Given can fly. The 49ers are smart enough to already know this. If it was me, I'd draft Coby Fleener in the 1st round. Just look at New England with 2 quality TE's. Then, they could get Givens or McNutt in a later round. Harbaugh knows the quality of Fleener.
By: Matt R.J.
Date: March 6, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Comment: I went and reviewed some of his vids and sure enough Floyd has slippery hands. His stocks may have risen but I don't see how it could continue in that direction. It's going to be shortlived in the pros. Who do you think are his equals?
Date: March 6, 2012 at 7:54 PM
Comment: To say Floyd's stock hasn't improved with a sub 4.4 is unrealistic. To almost all pro teams Floyd's stock has improved. His downfield ball skills are at the top of the class rivaled only by Alshon Jeffrey, and the game tape reflects that assessment. The ball skills combined with the proven explosive athleticism that he showed definitely improved his stock.
Date: March 6, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Comment: underwear olympics was pretty clever.
Date: March 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM
Comment: sometimes it's not the amount of film available on a player it's what the existing films display about the player. I think analysts do themselves a disfavor when they let limited films sway their reports. js
Date: March 6, 2012 at 6:54 PM
Comment: Then why you presume so much emphasis is put on the combine to deliver solutions to failing teams? I'm one who believes the combine is what it's hyped up to be. That's why we're talking about it, right?
By: Matt R.J.
Date: March 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM
Comment: Very insightful! I liked that your analysis is actually realistic! I liked Micheal Floyed but I also see the veracity of your analysis. Keep it up! I'll be back.