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Ten-Point Stance: Film doesn't lie, but combine numbers sure do

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider
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Mike Mamula cost the Eagles two picks the Bucs turned into two consistent Pro Bowl defenders. (Getty Images)  
Mike Mamula cost the Eagles two picks the Bucs turned into two consistent Pro Bowl defenders. (Getty Images)  

This week you will hear the ridiculous, the silly, the overstated. It's that time of year: the scouting combine.

You're going to hear how a player's 40-yard dash time will shoot him up the draft board. You're going to hear about bench pressing and jumping and everything short of the waist size of their underwear. Though you might hear that, as well.

Most of all, you're going to hear how a combine performance turned a good player into a great one. So I would like to remind you about a cautionary tale named Mike Mamula.

Mamula was a fine linebacker at Boston College, but when he left school in 1994 there wasn't anything particularly special about him. Then something utterly and completely insane happened.

Mamula went to the combine and had possibly the all-time greatest performance ever. Mamula did so because he was quite possibly the first player to ever train specifically for the event. Such a thing is common now, but in the mid-1990s, it was almost unheard of. He annihilated the combine. It was the Martians vs. the Army in War of the Worlds.

He tested stronger than some of the top linemen, jumped higher than some of the top defensive backs and was faster than some of the top running backs. It was an incredible thing to see.

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Now, the film of Mamula in college showed a different story. It showed he was a fine player. Not particularly explosive or great. Just solid. Some scouts at the time thought Mamula was a fourth-round pick at best. Then came the combine.

The Philadelphia Eagles were completely suckered. They traded their first-round pick and two second-rounders to Tampa Bay in exchange for the Buccaneers' first-round pick and a third-rounder. The Bucs used those picks to draft Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, two great players.

The Eagles drafted Mamula with the seventh overall pick, and he turned out to be one of the great busts in draft history. Some have written that scouts across football loved Mamula, but that simply isn't the case. I was told by scouts they thought Mamula was solid but not great.

The moral of the Mamula story is that every year some combine warrior changes a team's mind. Every. Year. They don't learn the Lesson of Mamula. They forget the greatest NFL truth of all time, which is film doesn't lie -- or FDL.

Some team will screw up and draft another Mamula because of what a player did on a bench press and not what game film captured.

So the question is: Which team will get Mamula'd this time?

2. Once again, here we are back to Tim Tebow. Love Tebow as a person. Sincere, good guy. Hope he does well, but I fear he won't. But that's an old debate. I wanted to talk about something else: how unfairly Tebow is being treated now.

It's pretty disgraceful, actually. It started with the Broncos announcing they were bringing in two quarterbacks to compete with Tebow. Again, I don't think Tebow can throw, but even a critic like me has a hard time defending the move to bring in two guys to compete. That's basically a setup. That's basically the Broncos saying they don't believe in Tebow.

The Broncos will name Tebow the starter, but that doesn't seem to mean a whole lot.

But the biggest disgrace is comments from former Denver backup Brady Quinn in a GQ article about Tebow. Quinn said a lot of things, including this about why Denver succeeded with Tebow: "We've had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply."

Now, Quinn has since backtracked from those words and the author -- one of the best writers in the business -- has made clear Quinn wasn't being bitter, but Quinn had to know what he was saying. Again, Quinn might be correct, but he's the wrong guy to be saying anything. Quinn has been a major bust in the NFL.

Not certain he's the guy to be making those types of comments.

Again, I'm not convinced Tebow can play. In fact, I don't think he can, but the poor treatment of him is beginning to reach ridiculous levels.

3. I think one of the quarterbacks the Broncos want to sign to compete with Tebow is Vince Young.

4. It's true the Pittsburgh Steelers might not be able to keep Mike Wallace. That would seem like a potentially huge problem. His speed is formidable and he loosens up the entire Steelers offense, but there is a contrarian thought circulating around football -- defenses have deciphered Wallace and he's no longer the threat he once was. It's an interesting theory. There's also the fact Pittsburgh has an uncanny ability to successfully replace talent.

One more thing on the Steelers: Despite his denials, I continue to hear Hines Ward is considering retiring.

5. David Cornwell being named executive director of the NFL Coaches Association is one of the most significant moves of the offseason no one is talking about.

6a. Champ of the week: Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, who continues to rehab from torn ligaments in his knee.

6b. Chump of the week: Spirit Airlines. For this ad: "Check Out Our Linesanely Low Fares!" OK, enough of the Jeremy Lin puns.

6c. Tweet of the week: Chad Ochocinco. Again. He seems to make this every week. I can't even repeat the series of foul-mouthed tweets he had one day this week (Ochocinco later said the tweets came from his fianceé -- or something like that).

7. Typical, discombobulated Redskins.

8. I continue to hear from league executives that the Packers might make some sort of big move in the draft.

9. Worst part of the combine: leaked Wonderlic scores. The leaks might be accurate (or not) and have no impact on a player's draft status (or might).

10. And here we go ... one scout on Andrew Luck: "He's good but a tad overrated." OK, whatever. Was wondering when the first overrated comment would make its way down the pike.

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