As the 2008 college football regular season wound down in late November, Andre Smith was a first-team All-American and sleeper Heisman Trophy candidate for the resurgent Alabama Crimson Tide. He was also a virtual lock to be one of the first five overall players and top lineman taken in a draft rich with future NFL offensive tackles.
By April, 2009, a suspension for the season-ending Sugar Bowl, a very odd experience at the NFL Scouting Combine in which he interviewed poorly and left without telling anyone, and his much-maligned Pro Day (pictured below) had seemingly cost Smith millions of dollars as he fell out of the conversation for the top few picks and into the punchline of many jokes.
The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Andre Smith sixth overall and signed him to a deal that could be worth $42 million over six years. Cincinnati also drafted at least two other players much later than most had projected going into the season when they grabbed Rey Maualuga 38th overall and Michael Johnson 70th overall. That has been the Bengals’ approach to the draft under Marvin Lewis. The Combine does not really matter (neither do off the field concerns). The only thing that matters when it comes to the draft is play on the field.
Marvin Lewis joined Dan Dakich on 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis to talk about the merits of the Combine, the “asinine” approach many top prospects take to the event, and Chad Ochocinco’s 40-time.
On how much stock he puts in workouts at the Combine:
“The workout becomes a confirmation for a lot of players. It’s got to be judged individually with the player. The number one thing is what that guy has done on his college campus. So as these college players who are going to be underclassmen who may be listening to your show should know to take stock in what they do on the football field their – junior and senior – their last two seasons and not get all caught up in what this is.”
On what the NFL Scouting Combine is:
“This is just a confirmation; that I can run. I weigh this much. I’m smart enough. I can carry on a conversation. I can learn. I can understand. And I’m a good person.”
On players who leave school to workout and prepare for the Combine:
“The other one that just kills me is that they spend three or four years with a strength coach on a college campus and as soon as the season’s over they go somewhere else to some guy who doesn’t know them from a whole in the wall and pay this guy a bunch of money. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It used to be that they had to pay for it and now it’s part of the agent deal. They’ve cultivated a whole industry out of it. It doesn’t make sense. It’s actually asinine that if I go to school in Florida, now I have to go to Arizona to train. If I go to school in Arizona, I have to go to Georgia to train. These guys have the best facilities and the best people working with them year round and now all the sudden they got to go somewhere else. You don’t need to go away. A football player is a football player.”
And on what Chad Ochocinco would do if he could come to the Combine:
“He would probably run faster than he did last time because he probably wouldn’t wear those stupid tights.”