What Every NFL Exec Missed at the NFL Combine

The NFL Combine started this past weekend in Indianapolis (it runs through February 26th). For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Combine, it’s a way for NFL executives, scouts, head coaches, assistant coaches, strength & conditioning coaches, and other key personnel associated with an NFL team, to get their eyes on the top players of the 2013 NFL draft class. They’ll be looking for the strongest, quickest, most agile players they can find in hopes of gaining a glimpse into the future of the NFL and their respective team.

NFL personnel watch players as they complete the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, bench press, shuttle run, and other drills to determine which players they should draft and build a team around. While each team’s personnel is highly skilled at what they do, I believe they’ll be missing one huge piece of the puzzle.

None of them will be evaluating posture and overall function.

To me, that’s one of the most important thing to look at. A functional athlete is explosive, strong, quick and agile. Now, don’t get me wrong, some athletes are completely dysfunctional yet still possess all of those traits. When that’s the case, while they may be incredible athletes, they’re an injury time bomb waiting to go off. When athletic ability trumps function, bad things can be waiting right around the corner. Those athletes are a blown ACL waiting to happen. They’re one throw away from tearing the labrum in their shoulder. And a neck injury or concussion could be just one bad tackle away.

The athletes on display this weekend are physical specimens. I’m sure some of them look like Greek gods. But under the surface, their musculoskeletal systems are extremely compromised. Take a look at this picture of New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady (not looking like a Greek god):

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Notice anything? Anything look “off” to you? It should! It’s a laundry list of misalignments. Brady has an elevated left shoulder, elevated right hip, his shoulders are rounded forward, his knees and feet everted, and his feet are pronated. Tom Brady is a dysfunctional wreck…yet he’s a stud quarterback. Luckily for him, he’s stayed pretty healthy despite his dysfunctions. He has only missed one season due to a knee injury caused by a bad hit. So far, so good. Or, perhaps, so far, so lucky.

I would be a lot of money that Tom Brady hasn’t done much to address his dysfunctions and instead has simply gotten bigger and stronger. He has, essentially, built a Ferrari on a bent frame. That plan won’t hold up forever. 

What if Brady were functional? Can you imagine how much better he could be? It’s scary to think about!

This weekend is a big opportunity not only for those players looking to get drafted, but also for those folks doing the evaluating. Each player has a chance to become a multi-millionaire and turn his body into a paycheck. Unfortunately, most of them they aren’t doing anything to insure that they are getting everything they possibly can out of their body. While it’s true that most of them are doing functional movements during their Combine training–jumping, pushing, pulling, throwing, twisting, etc.–very few are actually doing those movements on a functional body.

The front-office personnel doing the evaluating have the opportunity to sign a player who could become the cornerstone of their franchise. They are spending countless hours evaluating talent and will be signing some of their players to very rich contracts. Yet, they aren’t doing anything to insure that those investments are structurally and functionally sound. By evaluating posture your favorite team’s front office would be taking steps to ensure they get the best return on both the time they are investing, and millions of dollars they are investing, in each player.

QUESTION: If you tuned into the NFL Combine this weekend, what dysfunctions did you notice?