How will combine affect Bernard's stock?

IT WASN'T THE forty time Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard was looking to run this weekend while in Indy at the NFL scouting combine. The showing also brings up the time honored question -- just how much does combine testing, and pro days, affect the draft status of NFL hopefuls?

Yvenson Bernard clocked a 4.81 and 4.78 in the forty according to a Sports Illustrated report -- not exactly tearing up the turf.

The difference in speed between the college and pro games already had some opining that Bernard may be one of those guys who were great in college but who lack the speed and size to succeed in the NFL. And his time in the forty will not help those who hold that opinion.

And SI went so far as to say Bernard's times will change NFL teams' view that he can turn the corner in the NFL.


But football is not played in a straight line. No player runs the sweep the same way he runs a forty.

And no one has ever played the game on Sunday afternoons clad in shorts and a t-shirt.

The real question is if Bernard can gain yards after contact in the NFL the same way he did in college. A slippery back, Bernard's burst and balance contributed to 3,862 career rushing yards at Oregon State -- the sixth most in Pac-10 history.

There are indeed reasons he racked up all those hashes despite not having a dazzling time in the forty. But how much that will count with NFL teams remains to be seen.

Bernard also has solid hands and could develop into a good receiver coming out of the backfield. He's also an accomplished blocker, a quality in demand as it's becoming more and more of a lost art among running backs.

Until the draft, there is also expected be plenty of gamesmanship among the NFL teams if prior years are any indication. A scout will talk off the record to media and discount a player they actually hope will be available for them to land at a certain spot in the draft, or via the undrafted free agent signings.

The reason they do so is to throw other teams off the track. NFL scouts have even been loathe to tell the player his own forty time during a pro day lest the info get out. Welcome to the clandestine world of the NFL Draft.

Years ago, there was a rash of players who became combine stars and saw their stock soar with good outings. And many subsequently turned into NFL disappointments. One longtime watcher of the draft said a good or poor showing at the event probably counts for less than 10 percent of an evaluation. Still, it would undoubtedly help Bernard to clock a more impressive time in the forty next month.

Bernard will likely next have a chance to impress the scouts on March 14, the date listed as the Beaver's "pro date", when various numbers of clubs come by Corvallis.

It's unclear what Beaver defensive end Dorian Smith's impact was at the combine. DEs are being tested today but according to the Register Guard, all four of the Oregon State players have departed Indy.

OL Roy Schuening in drills earlier on Friday was said to display good technique and polished, but appeared to suffer an injury while running. He is expected to be Oregon State's first player chosen when the draft takes place on April 26-27.

Alexis Serna showed off an impressive leg but his accuracy suffered, missing four of five field goals. Still, Serna's accomplishments in crunch time over his Oregon State career would seem to carry more weight.

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