The NFL Scouting Combine is a place where stars can be made. Each year, 300 of the top college league baseball quality hopefuls travel to Indianapolis as part of a one-week attempt to prove their value to league leaders and coaches.
However, a series of football-style practices and overly serious interviews do not always capture the player's future potential. For some, a bad set of exercises may be the tipping point that temporarily diverts their hopes in the NFL. For others, this is the starting point for exceptional careers, some of which end at the Hall of Fame.
There are also those who set the bar of expectations too high with a strong jump in time or records. It is these players who spend a few minutes working in March at the monolith that eclipses their career in the NFL. This does not mean that they were not yet useful players, it simply meant that they could not follow through on the promise made on the handset.
Here are six players who pushed their stock to unsustainable heights, then landed between "bust" and "star" during the career that is best remembered for their coaching prowess.
Mike Mamula, DE, Philadelphia Eagles (choice # 7 of the 1995 project)
The incredible performance of the Mamula Association has become an example of what mastering the basic exercises of the event can bring to a prospect. The under-sized player eliminated his training sessions at Indianapolis, moving from a likely second or third round selection to the seventh selection in 1995, after enlightening the combine with an extremely obvious strategy : to succeed at all the exercises.
"I went to the combine after doing all the tests hundreds of times," Mamula told ESPN in 2008. "Some other guys have never practiced some of the specific exercises."
Mamula had a decent career in the NFL for a third-round pick, clocking 31.5 sacks in five seasons with the Eagles. However, that was not what Philadelphia had signed up to after swapping choice # 12 and the second two for the opportunity to pick the Boston College star. If the Eagles had stood firm at number 12, they could have picked Warren Sapp, who was caught by the Buccaneers at the place where Philly was released.
Matt Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (choice # 21 of the 2005 draft)
Jones' impressive combine convinced Jacksonville that the former Arkansas quarterback had potential in the Pro Bowl. The 6'6 caller clocked a time of 4.37 seconds to establish himself as a potential threat to the red zone, even though he had only four assists during his university career.
The Jaguars were a little right! Jones was a useful target with 166 assists and 15 touchdowns, starting 15 games for a team that played two appearances in the playoffs in four years. He could have done even more if it were not for the drug addiction suspension and the arrests that ended his tenure in Jacksonville. He would miss the 53-man lineup of the Bengals in 2010 and retire rather than try his luck with Washington a few months later.
Jones was fine, but if the Jags needed a receiver, they could have chosen Roddy White. The quadruple Pro Bowler went six times later to the Falcons.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders (2009 Project # 7)
Heyward-Bey's best season in Maryland allowed him to get 51 passes for 786 yards – that's not exactly the number 1 WR. So why did the Raiders spend among the top 10 choices of a player who failed to produce consistently for three seasons as a Terrapin? Because Al Davis never liked anything more than speed, Heyward-Bey was the fastest man in 2009.
The biggest gap of all time with 40 seconds is 4.3 seconds or less, and that's all it took Davis to ignore worries about his hands and his routing tree. He moved from the median perspective to seventh place. He has only collected 35 passes in his first two seasons as a professional.
Business resumed in the third and fourth years with 1,581 yards and 15.1 yards per catch, but that would be the high watermark of Heyward-Bey's career. He has managed to remain a useful deep threat (though little used) and protect his NFL for a full decade.
Davis' insatiable thirst for speed prevented Oakland from hiring his two other teammates Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, who would both have been a more menacing target than Heyward-Bey.
Barkevious Mingo, DE / OLB, Cleveland Browns (choice # 6 of the 2013 project)
Throughout his university career, Mingo was a nominative selection throughout the first team, but a disappointing junior season threatened to hold his stock. He answered all his questions about his potential with an excellent performance in Indianapolis, where he was ranked as one of the top two 40-time defensive linemen, vertical jump and three-cone exercise.
He would be enlisted as part of a shaman curse in Cleveland, where he started 16 games … in three seasons. In 2016, he won the Super Bowl at the biggest return of the NFL history, although he played only four tackles in the regular season. and was relegated mainly to the duty of the special teams.
This was enough to convince the other teams to roll the dice on the linebacker. He made his debut for the Colts in 2017 before embarking on a full-time role with the Seahawks in the playoffs in 2018. Mingo has been a perfect replacement level player who can play a role in good teams – but this is not what the Browns had in mind when they made him the number 6 choice in 2013.
So who could Cleveland have written instead? The year 2013 has proven to be a pretty disappointing project – see the next two entries on this list – but Sheldon Richardson would have added an extra punch for the Browns, albeit in a different position.
Austin tavern, WR / RB / KR / whatever, Rams of Saint-Louis (choice n ° 8 of the 2013 project)
If Austin were a choice of Day 3, he would be a legendary Swiss Army knife capable of filling the gaps as a runner, receiver and returning – a Cordarrelle Patterson at a lower cost. His handset performance helped him to be in the top 10 of the 2013 project and create the high expectations he could not meet in a six-year career. Austin illuminated the Indianapolis speed events with a 4.34 second run and the second best 20-yard commuter time in 2013 to appeal to scouts needing a dynamic offensive threat.
The former West Virginia star has 202 career receptions and 190 players as a fast-sweeping gadget burner, with a solid average of eight yards per touch over that period. He has also been a dynamic and specialized contributor to the special teams, leading the league by returning in 2016, scoring three free-kicks for touchdowns in his first three seasons as a professional, and generally giving his opponents the opportunity to think before throwing the ball at the bottom of the field. That's all Jeff Fisher needed to put in a four-year, $ 42-million contract extension, which did not make much sense in 2016 and seemed downright ridiculous after he finished 2017 with 13 receptions.
The problem is that no team has figured out how to make him a full player. He is not a half and he is not a consistent road runner to be a legitimate threat. An exhausted Dallas receiver corps has traded for him in the hope of unleashing his potential (and giving Dak Prescott someone to pitch), but Austin has only managed eight receptions yet. in seven games. The strong drawing of Austin's water means that he earns more than $ 185,000 per catch, a rate that reportedly brought Julio Jones $ 20.9 million last fall. He will not get as favorable a deal as a free agent this spring.
If the Rams wanted to make an effort, they could have had DeAndre Hopkins – 27th in 2013 – instead.
Margus Hunt, DL, Bengals of Cincinnati (choice # 53 of the 2013 project)
The Estonian weightlifter was one of the most promising in 2013. Originally, he came to America to train with the SMU track and field team, but when the university dropped out of his program he found a way to stay in Dallas by appealing to his talents. He has become an American talent at all conferences, but his limited CV and his advanced age (25 years on draft day) have not really shouted the "choice of day 2" to interested teams.
Its measurable combinable absurd – a time of 4.6 seconds 40 to 6 – 8 and 277 pounds, 38 representatives on the bench of the press – did. That convinced the Bengals to take it in the second round. For their investment, the club recovered zero points and 1.5 sacks over four seasons on a choice that seemed like a useless choice.
But Hunt did not occupy only room in Cincinnati; he was learning a game he had not learned before he was 22 years old. The tall European has moved 90 minutes west of Indianapolis as a low-risk rookie for general manager Chris Ballard. In 2018, he recorded 30 tackles and five sacks – more than in his four seasons as a combined Bengal.
Hunt's selection in the second round was not as risky as the other players on that list, but Bennie Logan, Brandon Williams and Alex Okafor were still on the board.