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Wenning, Snead, and Newsome Look to Shine at Combine

nfl-logoFor NFL fans, this upcoming weekend may be behind only Super Bowl weekend, opening weekend, and the Draft in terms of the excitement and hopeful optimism that it brings. Teams with terrible win-loss records will look for the next franchise player to select with their high draft picks and teams with better records are on the lookouts for “sleepers” or “projects”. But what’s lost amidst the bench press reps, height, weight, and reach is that for the group of student-athletes attempting to make an NFL roster, they are merely reduced down to aggregate numbers and performance scores in comparison with one another. For players like Keith Wenning, Willie Snead, and Jonathan Newsome their talent, skill, and ability is about way more than cookie-cutter numbers.

In fact, some would argue that those arbitrary numbers are what landed talent like BSU’s 2013 Combine Three at Ball State in the first place. I would be willing to wager that almost any collegiate program that saw Willie Snead play in his career at BSU making sure handed catch after sure handed catch would have been more than happy to look past his negative talking points like a lack of blazing speed or a smaller frame at 5′ 11″. I guess it’s a modern miracle that a short and slow wideout was able to set school records in receptions, yardage, and touchdowns for a single season while finishing third in  the nation for yards.

For Newsome, an Ohio State transfer, and someone likely transitioning positions from a collegiate defensive end to an NFL linebacker, it becomes a presumptive pro and con argument. There’s the con of transitioning to a new position and being somewhat small for it, but a pro of a sub 4.8 40 yard dash. There’s the pro of having a nose for the football and a familiar home in the backfield of opposing offenses. There’s the con of not having a ton of experience in pass coverage that linebackers in an NFL but there’s the pro of being the primary focus of offensive lines and still making your presence known. And there’s the always awesome “character discussions” because Newsome was suspended for several games in 2012. God forbid a college student make a mistake. BURN HIM AT THE STAKE!

Wenning is perhaps the most curious case at arguably the deepest position. The top of the quarterback class and most of the eyes will be on the Johnny Manziel/Teddy Bridgewater/Blake Bortles triangle at the top of the war room boards. But perhaps that isn’t the worst thing in the world for Wenning. Theoretically, I’d like for Wenning to land in a place that doesn’t have a need for a QB right away but will in a few years. It gives him time to learn the offense and entrench himself as a valuable member of the team, which you know he’ll do. The consensus across the board is Wenning will get drafted, but to whom, how soon, and such remains a mystery. Even RV, who is the site’s resident NFL expert said, “Third day, probably, but you never really know with quarterbacks.” About the only thing you would know for sure is that Wenning is the career leader at BSU for pass attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns and the case could be made that he is the best Ball State quarterback to play for the Cardinals.

So despite career achievements, hours and hours of film, interviews, etc. let’s base someone’s career on a shuttle drill, a 40 yard dash, a three-cone drill, and some position drills. It’s just 15 minutes of actual work for the next, oh, 50 years of your life and your professional reputation. NO PRESSURE! You can catch all of the Combine action and the talking heads that go with it on the NFL Network. Wenning and Snead will have their position drills broadcast on Sunday while Newsome will be live on Monday. We’ll have recaps up after each. The meat market officially starts on the 22nd and the offensive linemen go first. If you are a fan of fat guy touchdowns, you’ll just love fat guy shuttle runs, fat guy 40 yard dashes, and fat guy vertical jumps. It’s a hoot.

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