MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - I don't know about you, but I'm breathlessly anticipating the last day of the NFL scouting combine and my final opportunity to watch men run around cones.
Well, not really.
Truth is, I can't fault those who spend hours glued to their televisions watching this stuff. To each his own, right? I'd just as soon see the NFL line them all up and run those 40s against each other instead of the clock. And it would be really fun watching them all attack the same cone course at the same time.
I'm not really sure what the NFL gets out of all of this, either. The results all go down in their little books and they might be great for reference. But if it's draft day and you need a wide receiver, which are you more likely to source - what you saw in real football games or the numbers in that book?
The thought here is that NFL folks value the scouting combine far more for the results of physical and mental exams than what guys do in agility, speed and strength drills for which they have trained specifically for a solid two months (and will never again be asked to repeat).
That having been said, at least three of the four West Virginia players invited to the scouting combine have apparently wowed 'em. Tavon Austin ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, Geno Smith made all the throws and answered all the public questions right, and Stedman Bailey was praised for his route running, intelligence and ability to catch the football.
Smith and Austin seem all but certain to be picked in the first round when the draft is held in April and Bailey could work his way into the second round. West Virginia has never had two players taken in the first round of the draft and only three times have three Mountaineers gone in the first two rounds. The last time that happened was when Anthony Becht went in the first round and Jerry Porter and Barrett Green in the second during the 2000 draft.
We bring that up because the 1999 WVU team for which those three played finished 4-7. The 2012 team for which Smith, Austin and Bailey played finished 7-6. Eleven of the 12 WVU teams between those finished with better records despite having fewer top-of-the-draft players playing their final college seasons.
The other two WVU teams that had three players taken in the first two rounds weren't especially memorable, either.
A year before the 1999 team produced a first and two seconds, the 1998 team delivered three second-rounders (Charles Fisher, Solomon Page and John Thornton). That team, which of course included six first- or second-rounders over two years, was 8-4 and lost to Missouri in the Insight.com Bowl.