In February, just before the 2016 NFL Combine, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick expressed his displeasure with Combine-specific training, or working out only to improve your 40-Yard Dash, Shuttle Drill or other exercises that prospects perform each year in Indianapolis. Belichick called that type of training a “mistake,” and bemoaned the lack of readiness a lot of rookies show once they reach the NFL, because they were unable to spend the off-season focused on training for actually playing football.
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On the day he will almost certainly be taken with a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Ohio State’s star defensive end Joey Bosa echoed Belichick’s words, and then some. With his Combine training still very much on his mind, Bosa railed against a school of thought that he feels is a detriment to the development of NFL prospects.
“I didn’t like it at all,” Bosa told STACK of his pre-Combine training. “Not because it was hard, but because it wasn’t hard. You’re going there and you’re doing very light work and running a few sprints because you can’t kill your legs. I just couldn’t wait for it to be over and get back to training for football.”
Bosa has a point, especially since he just went through that type of training himself. Once college bowl games are over, prospects spend almost all of December and January preparing their bodies for a series of drills they’ll run during the Combine and their Pro Day. Much of that movement doesn’t exactly translate to the way they’ll move on the field.
“All the coaches agree, all the teams I visited agree, that training for the Combine is terrible for these kids coming out,” Bosa said. “They’re not getting in shape, they’re training to be track stars. They’re trying to go into camp being in the best shape they possibly can and all they’re in shape for is to run a 40. But you’ve got to do it.”
It seems like the emphasis teams put on Combine performance has waned slightly in recent years, but the annual showcase of prospects’ athleticism can still make or break their careers. It’s not an option to simply say, “I won’t be participating this year.” But as the voices of prominent coaches and prospects get louder in the push-back against Combine-specific training, it will be fascinating to watch how it evolves in the years to come.