Combine Watch

Two years ago, Troy Williamson saw his stock soar (at least in the Vikings' eyes) with an impressive showing at the scouting Combine in Indianapolis. While other players will see their stock rise or fall this week as a result of their performances, the Vikings will be less likely to make a jump up their draft board based solely on a player's performance at the Combine.

The annual Combine of more than 300 college players will be conducted this week in Indianapolis and, as is usually the case, several players will see their stock rise and fall as a result. The last two Vikings' first-round picks had very different Combine experiences. Troy Williamson ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash at the Combine and his stock shot up to the point that the Vikings surprised many be grabbing him with the seventh overall pick. That same year, Matt   Jones, a converted quarterback who was moved to wide receiver ran a similar 40 time and went from being a projected middle of the second round pick into the first round by the Jaguars.

Similarly, other players have seen their stock drop as a result of the Combine. Chad Greenway, the Vikings' first-round pick last year, ran the worst 40 time of his college career at the Combine – almost two tenths of a second behind his normal time – and needed an impressive Pro Day at Iowa to get his draft standing back.

There's no questioning that the Combine has a marked impact on where players are taken on draft day. But the new Vikings analyzing machine, headed by V.P. of Player Personnel Rick Spielman, isn't going to let something like a 40 time, a Wonderlic score or a vertical jump drastically change their rankings of players. Many believe the Vikings made that mistake with Williamson, whom few draft experts had going in the top dozen picks. Spielman believes the Combine is more about getting a chance to test out players medically, not the performance aspects in lifting 225 pounds or doing a shuttle run.

"The most important part of the Combine is what you get medically," Spieman said. "This is the first chance for your medical staff to get an examination of these players. A player can help himself with a strong performance at the Combine and others can really hurt themselves. If you're a wide receiver who runs a 4.9 40 at the Combine, you're going to lose interest fast. But the mistake that is made is when you move a guy way up your board simply because of what he did at the Combine."

If that's the case, don't expect to see a player like Williamson make a huge leap on the Vikings' draft board as a result of the Combine. While a lot of players may end up earning themselves hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars with an impressive performance this week in Indy, don't expect the Vikings to reach for a player with the seventh overall pick. More likely, the players they currently have slotted with the top spots are the players that will remain there come draft weekend in a little more than two months.

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