Those Combine numbers dazzle, but football still counts

The numbers, as they often do this time of year, set Twitter ablaze. Guys set 40 records for their position. They lift 225 pounds more times than expected. They leap to big heights.

Still, it's hard to get past something that Cardinals GM Steve Keim says at least a few times every year during this time period, that he often reminds his scouts that it is the games they have watched these players play more than what happens in Indy (or a guy's pro day) that needs to carry the heaviest weight when it comes to scouting.

"We don’t run a three-cone drill at 1 o’clock on Sundays," Keim said recently.

That doesn't make it any less impressive that Iowa tight end Noah Fant ran a 4.50 40, or that Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf combined a 4.33 40 time with a 40.5-inch vertical and that superhero-esque 6-foot-4, 228-pound frame, or that Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams burst out with a 1.67-seconds in the first 10 yards or that Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat almost impossibly hauled his 6-6, 260-pound body to a 4.41 40 time.

Yet, other than Williams, no one was talking about those guys as the best player in the draft ahead of time. That's because the football matters. It doesn't mean that Metcalf and Fant and Sweat won't be first-round picks -- it seems now, with their combine work, they almost certainly will -- but history is littered with physical freaks that can't put it all together on the field in the NFL.

The teams that do it right will come back from Indianapolis, look at all these numbers and plug them into an equation. All other things being equal, they are tiebreakers, important ones. But there is more to it.

Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
WR D.K. Metcalf

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