During his chat this week, NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan was asked by Vernon Gholston (or more likely, somebody posing as Gholston — although, who knows, he probably has a lot of time on his hands now) how teams don’t get fooled by workout warriors.
Kirwan said that teams continue to fall in love with a player’s measurables, which I have to figure is a lot like dating an actress. Sure, it seems like a good idea, but there is a reason why Jennifer Aniston is still single, fellas.
With that in mind, we look over the top six workout warriors from the combine, who failed to make the impact many thought that they would in the NFL. Keep that in mind before you wonder where Vernon Davis is, because not only did he excel at the combine, he’s doing well in the NFL.
This is for the guys who worked out hard, but just didn’t work out in the NFL.
6. Adam Archuleta
Archuleta went from walk-on at Arizona State to Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year before he amazed scouts with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash time, a 39-inch vertical leap and 31 reps (at 225 pounds) on the bench press at the combine. St. Louis selected him with the 20th overall selection, and while he did have some solid seasons in Lovie Smith‘s Cover 2 defense, he was never selected to the Pro Bowl. Which, somehow, didn’t deter the Redskins from making him the highest-paid safety in 2006. Archuleta never took to Gregg Williams‘ system, and he was traded to the Bears before failing in one final stop with the Raiders. But it’s not all bad for him. He did manage to parlay a great combine workout and marginal NFL career to land Playmate Jennifer Walcott.
5. Darrius Heyward-Bey
The Raiders love speed and the vertical game, so it’s no surprise that the team became infatuated with Heyward-Bey after he was a top performer in the 40 (4.25), bench press (16 reps) and vertical jump (38 1/2 inches) among others. The Raiders might have surprised some when they took Heyward-Bey with the seventh-overall pick, ahead of Michael Crabtree, but they view him as the next Cliff Branch. Right now, he looks like the next Ronald Curry.
4. Matt Jones
Jones was a quarterback and a member of the basketball team at Arkansas, so it’s no surprise that he put up big numbers at the combine, clocking a 4.37 time in the 40, along with a 39 1/2-inch vertical leap. The Jaguars drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, but Jones never quite made the transition to receiver as his off-the-field troubles became so big, even the Bengals gave up on him.
3. Jonathan Sullivan
There were a number of notable defensive linemen in the 2003 NFL Draft, and All of them seemed like can’t-miss prospects. Sullivan, who skipped his senior season at Georgia, distanced himself from the others at the combine, and ended up being the No. 6 selection of the Saints. Sullivan is out of football. One of the defensive tackles the Saints passed on? Kevin Williams, who has been to three Pro Bowls and is part of the Vikings’ famed “Williams Wall.”
2. Mike Mamula
As Kirwan noted in his chat, you can’t spell all-time combine workout warrior without Mike Mamula. No, really, you can’t. Mamula, a defensive end, had a 40-time that rivaled linebackers and did more bench press reps than most offensive linemen. His case was so compelling, the Eagles traded up to draft him No. 7 overall in 1995. And you know the rest, as Mamula has become the punchline for the combine ever since.
1. Vernon Gholston
How is Gholston ahead of Mamula? Well, it’s understandable that teams could be duped by a workout warrior back when Mamula made it through the combine in 1995. But what excuse do they have now? Gholston was a physical specimen whose chiseled abs would have made Hugh Jackman and The Situation jealous. Gholston put on a show at the combine that could only be rivaled by Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV.” Yet in three NFL seasons, he has yet to record a single sack. Mr. Mamula, congratulations, you are no longer the biggest joke of the combine.
So there you have it. And when you are looking for potential workout warriors this year, remember you heard the name of Nevada’s Dontay Moch here first.