Texans analyst and radio sideline reporter John Harris unveiled his top 100 prospects for the NFL Draft. (Photos courtesy of AP)
In Indianapolis for the Combine, I had a conversation with a few media members as to why the Combine resonates with the general public. One person mentioned that NFL teams' fans got a preview of players that could ultimately end up in their favorite teams' jersey. One person said it was because nothing else was on in February and people are just wired to "watch anything with the NFL stamp on it."
But, no one mentioned MY reason why people like watching the Combine.
Other-worldly acts of freaky athleticism.
There comes a point in every Combine when a participant, or three, does something that literally stops you in your tracks.
"He did WHAT??"
Let's start with Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley. When he arrived in the interview room on Friday, I advised Deepi Sidhu to go over and listen to his interview, that it would be one of the best she heard all week long. She's an engineer so she needs to be convinced but when I finally coerced her to listen, she agreed. But, many guys can give a good interview. I watched Conley play for three years at Georgia, saw a ton of his games but never expected to see him run 4.35 in the 40.
Then, he did.
To put that jump in perspective, Conley's 6'2", he probably reaches 8'6" or so, tack on 45" and he touched nearly 12' in the air. So, Conley could stand in front of a goalpost and with no step or momentum nearly touch his head on the goal post.
UConn cornerback Byron Jones came up a shade under 45" at 44.5" with his vertical but then came the broad jump.
A few years ago, former Coastal Carolina's Jerome Simpson nearly jumped out of the broad jump marking area. There are white lines every three feet and the last one was at 12'. Years after Simpson's jump, the NFL decided, to be safe, to add a fifth line at 15'. No one had ever jumped beyond the last line, but it couldn't hurt, right?
When I walked into Lucas Oil on Friday, it was one of the first things I noticed - that fifth line. Then, I remembered it was offensive linemen day, the fifth line wasn't in danger, much less the fourth line.
Monday was a different experience altogether when Jones stepped to the jump line.
He leapt over all four lines! Who does THAT? No one. That's right, it was a world record 12'3". Not a world record for just NFL Combine participants. EVERYONE!
But, we love speed. UAB's JJ Nelson might be 156 pounds but he can fly.
4.28 is blazing fast and it came up just .04 behind Chris Johnson's record at the Combine.
To put that 4.28 number in context, Oklahoma offensive lineman Adam Shead had the worst 40 time at the Combine (5.74). In a race, Nelson would've beat him by nearly 15 yards...and the race is only 40 yards. Simulcast that, NFL Network.
The Combine's over and we'll all miss it. Yeah, go ahead and admit it, you watch and you watch to see these guys do things you and I could never do in our wildest imagination. Next year, the names will change but we'll still marvel at the freakiest of the athletic freaks.
View photos from Monday's workouts at the NFL combine.