With the Scouting Combine over and the NFL Draft fast approaching, the league is already considering modifying its pre-draft evaluation process to include activities and drills more predictive of a player’s ultimate success. While the 40-yard dash and vertical jump are aimed to test a player’s explosiveness and speed, the NFL is right. There are other metrics needed to evaluate rising NFL stars:
Intelligent celebration performance
Touchdown dances can often give birth to penalties for excessive celebration and taunting, both of which cost 15 yards. A player’s speed and explosiveness can be completely neutralized when he moves his team in the wrong direction after a big play. A player shouldn’t celebrate like he won the Super Bowl just because he got to touch the ball in a regular-season game.
Pro teams need to know if NFL prospects can celebrate creatively without drawing penalties or looking like ginormous dorks. Also, do players know when an excessive celebration penalty is worth it? For example, this celebration performance by William Gay was totally worth a penalty. And, since he was flagged for excessive celebration early in the routine, it was safe for him to keep celebrating, celebrating, and celebrating without incurring added demerits.
Stealth trash-talk demonstration
While players need to avoid penalties, they also need to know how to provoke opposing players without getting caught. For this activity, players will need to memorize and recite trash-talk monologues without moving their lips. Players who were members of the Ventriloquism Club in college should be of extreme interest to scouts.
Drunk dialing exercise
It’s 2016, so most kids these days probably are more into drunk texting or drunk Snapchatting than drunk dialing. Given the number of players who end up under scrutiny for DUI (I’m talking about you, Dak Prescott), scouts should consider a test to see if players are able to call a taxi while drunk. Scouts will provide players a wide assortment of alcoholic beverages and a smartphone. Scouts need to see for themselves if players can get the number of a cab, or use an e-hail app, like Verifone’s Way2Ride, to summon a sober ride.
The window experiment
Scouts look at players’ injury history, but they should also take a look at players’ overall physical resilience. For this test, scouts will throw players off a 15-foot ledge. If they can escape relatively unscathed, like Robert Nkemdiche, teams will know they have a superhuman player nearly impervious to injury.
Some players are talented, but have bad luck. This intangible is too often neglected in professional sports. Unless scouts moonlight on the Psychic Friends Network, they will have to bring in outside consultants to evaluate players’ karma. Will the player bring bad luck to the franchise? No team wants a player who is about to receive retribution for the time he stuffed his middle school’s 4’8” running back into a locker.
Road trip test
Most drafted players won’t see a lot of playing time during their rookie years. What value will they bring to the team? During this evaluation, players will pile into a bus with scouts from various teams. Scouts will have a chance to determine how new players will impact the morale of the team. Are they funny? Do they fart? Are they playing their music so loud on their headphones that everyone else on the bus can hear the bass? How often do they say “are we there yet?”
Dani Bostick is a football writer and Latin teacher living in Winchester, VA. You should follow her on Twitter.