Every February for the last 35 years, the National Football League has run a scouting camp, called a combine, to assess the skills of college players before its annual draft. With scientific precision, the players are evaluated on a number of tests, including the 40-yard dash, bench presses, and vertical leaps. Performance at the combine can affect how early a player is selected in the draft, which is assumed to be a leading indicator of career trajectory. However, many studies (pdf) have shown that although the combine measures the table stakes of athletic skills, it misses the intangibles that make a player stand out come game time. That helps explain why a superstar like Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, was not picked until the sixth round, and star cornerback Richard Sherman was not drafted until the fifth round.
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