The Texas Tech Red Raiders wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, a surefire top five pick in the NFL Draft in April, measured in at six-foot-one (not the six-foot-three that Texas Tech had listed him as). Worse, turns out, he has the beginnings of a stress fracture in his foot and will soon have surgery to insert a screw to stablize it. So he might not run a 40 for the scouts before the draft, when folks were anxious to put a stopwatch on him.

But in this combine-crazed world, with millions on the line, will Crabtree fall out of the top five now?

If the combine changes where he would have been taken, it’ll be a mistake. The best way to tell if someone is a football player is by watching him play football, not tooling around at the combine. Crabtree has some really good things going for him and you don’t need a combine to see them: 1.) He has hands like oven mitts, 2.) He naturally goes and gets the football, rather than waiting for it to get to him, and he has great balls skills. 3.) He is strong and athletic.

His negative, if you are looking for one, is that he is not going to be the guy who wins a foot race against a bunch of NFL corners. I don’t think it will matter. As has been pointed out, Jerry Rice wasn’t the foot race guy either (not that I’m putting Crabtree in the record book, I am just saying stopwatches don’t make football players). If Crabtree drops, it should be because of the “receivers don’t make your team” mindset, not because of a tenth of a second in the 40. Because if you are making educated guesses about players, he looks like one of the three best players in the draft, if not the best one.

Combine, crapbine. Workouts, smurkouts.

It’s as I noted: it’s what you do when the games begin through when they end, and Crabtree has shown he can do it.

So many people these days get all caught up in the Mel Kiperism of evaluations. It keeps the draftniks and get-a-life-fanboys hyped up, but sometimes all of this combine-draft evaluation crap doesn’t always give a final, true indicator of an athlete’s ability. I always remember what an old pro scout siad once about this much ballyooed draft prospect who was talking smack and bragging about how he was going to turn NFL defenses on their ears with his speed, moves, etc. The ol’ codger who had evaluated his fair share of such “It’s all about me” dudes simply looked at the guy and said, “Yeah, son, but I wanna hear back from you after you’ve been hit by Ray Lewis.”

Enough said.

As Paul McCartney wrote for the Beatles, Let it Be.

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