Commentary

Stafford, Crabtree opting not to work out

Originally Published: February 20, 2009
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

INDIANAPOLIS -- All the offensive prospects and specialists are now in town for the 2009 NFL scouting combine. Offensive linemen, tight ends, kickers, punters and long snappers were weighed in, interviewed and underwent medical and psychological tests Thursday. Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers will do the same Friday, which is when kickers and specialists will hit the field for this position drills.

Meanwhile, here are some news and notes from Thursday at the combine:

• Last year Boston College QB Matt Ryan decided not to throw at the combine, opting instead to throw in front of scouts on the BC campus. Ryan took some heat, but it proved to be the correct decision in the long run. Georgia QB Matthew Stafford is navigating a similar minefield this week with his decision to run, but not throw, during his trip to Indianapolis. Like Ryan was at this time last year, Stafford is clearly the premier quarterback prospect in his class. It's also widely accepted that Stafford has the strongest arm of the group. So why risk having a so-so performance throwing to a bunch of unfamiliar receivers? Stafford is making the right call.

That said, it's important that Stafford stay focused and interview well during his time here. Stafford's football aptitude will be put to the test during film and whiteboard sessions with coaches and personnel officials for multiple NFL teams, which will throw a number of different looks at him. How he performs in those meetings -- particularly in his time with the staff of the Detroit Lions, who hold the No.1 overall pick -- will be far more important than anything he could do during passing drills.

• At this point Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree is the only other elite prospect we're certain will not participate in the workouts, and Crabtree is also making the right decision. Not only is he clearly the best player at his position, he also hasn't fully recovered from an ankle injury that nagged him for the majority of the 2008 season. Sure, there's more pressure on the Red Raiders receiver to run a respectable 40-yard dash time at next month's campus pro day now that he isn't going to run here. But unless Crabtree falters in a catastrophic way -- posting a time in the 4.7-second range -- it really shouldn't matter. Any team that passes on Crabtree because of his 40-yard dash times will eventually regret that decision.