College, not NFL Combine, reflects ability
INDIANAPOLIS — He anchored the middle of a ferocious defense that helped lead Alabama to a national championship. Yet Terrence Cody, a consensus All-American in 2009, stood out for a different reason at the Senior Bowl last month: The mammoth defensive tackle tipped the scales at an alarming 370 pounds, calling into question his commitment to the game that will soon become his full-time job.
The NFL Scouting Combine, which starts today in Indianapolis, will help teams such as the Steelers get a closer look at — and presumably a better read on — players such as Cody.
The Steelers could go in a number of directions with their first pick in April's draft, especially if they stay true to their philosophy of selecting the best player available.
They won't take a quarterback or a tight end with the 18th overall pick, but any other every-down position figures to be in play.
The Steelers could address the defensive line with their top pick for the second consecutive year. And they may need to draft an eventual replacement for nose tackle Casey Hampton if the Steelers are unable to sign the five-time Pro Bowler to a long-term contract.
That reality could thrust the player known as "Mt. Cody" — or perhaps Tennessee's Dan Williams — into the numerous discussions the Steelers will have leading to the draft.
Consider what ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently said about Cody:
"He's the clogger, he's the space eater. He occupies (blockers), he frees up linebackers, and he loves to play the game," Kiper Jr. said. "The weight's always going to fluctuate. That will always be an issue, but I think he's a first-round pick."
How much players help or hurt themselves at the Combine, where teams get their first in-depth look at those who have entered the draft early, has long been a topic of discussion.
Oakland has a recent history of falling for players who are impressive physical specimens or excel in Combine staples such at the 40-yard dash. That may explain why the Raiders haven't been relevant since playing in the 2002 Super Bowl.
As for the Steelers, director of football operations Kevin Colbert has said that 90 percent of a player's evaluation will be based on what he did in college, not the time he registers while running 40 yards in a straight line — something that is rarely done in football.
But the NFL Draft is such an inexact science, the line between taking a LaMarr Woodley or an Alonzo Jackson is so fine, that the Combine does matter.
The event may have a cattle-call feel to it, especially since the players who are prodded and poked by team doctors are also assigned numbers. But NFL teams wouldn't send large contingents of general managers, coaches and scouts if the physical examinations, drills and personal interviews that take place in Indianapolis weren't helpful.
The key is seeing the Combine as a place to gain clarity and not draw conclusions based on how many times a player bench presses 225 pounds or he how he fares in the various eye tests.
Teams such as the Steelers are in the process of compiling information on players that interest them. The Combine should only add to those dossiers, not carry them.
Strutting their stuff
Players from the Pittsburgh area and schools in its coverage area will be among more than 300 players that will showcase themselves at the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Thursday and runs through Tuesday:
Player (Position) School(s)
Alric Arnett (WR) West Virginia
Navorro Bowman (LB) Penn State
Jarrett Brown (QB) West Virginia
Nate Byham (TE) Pitt
Selvish Capers (OT) West Virginia
Daryll Clark (QB) Penn State
Barry Church (S) Penn Hills/Toledo
Dorin Dickerson (TE) West Allegheny/Pitt
Josh Hull (LB) Penn State
Sean Lee (LB) Upper St. Clair/Penn State
Jared Odrick (DL) Penn State
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (CB) IUP
Andrew Quarless (TE) Penn State
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers mum on national report involving head of security
- Increasing pressure on QBs will be offseason focus for Steelers
- Steelers sign punter Wing to 1-year extension
- Steelers’ Rooney ‘not expecting a problem’ with new Big Ben deal
- Injury history for Steelers’ Thomas casts safety’s future in doubt
- Steelers sign CFL defensive end Lemon