Peter Holland Jr./ Staff Writer
As the annual NFL Scouting Combine drawn to a close this past Monday on February 29, there are some questions in some of the NFL prospects who were snubbed by the NFL Scouting Committee.
Of course former starting cornerback and team captain for FIU in the last two seasons Richard Leonard was one of the snubs.
The NFL Scouting Combine is where NFL prospects get the opportunity to showcase their athleticism and skills to NFL scouts, coaches and general managers.
Each player can only get invited to participate at the combine, which is located at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., where the Indianapolis Colts play.
It starts off with each player getting measured by their size, which is mostly their height and weight. Then they getting interviewed by NFL teams that are interested in them like normal, regular jobs would do. And then it’s off to the field.
Broadcasted by the NFL network for those who follow football 24/7, the most important event that all scouts and fans like to pay attention to is the 40-yard dash, which each player by their position, run forty yards as fast as they can while being timed. For skilled players that are not an offensive linemen or defensive linemen, getting the fastest forty time is very important and could elevate their draft stocks. The faster they run, the more money they could make.
The last time an FIU player got invited to the NFL combine was in 2013. Strong safety Jonathan Cyprien, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and defensive end Tourek Williams, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers, were the two Panthers that were invited to the combine.
Now the question is why didn’t Leonard, a two time first team All-Conference USA selection as a cornerback and return specialist, get invited?
For one thing, the combine can only bring in 335 invitees. 250 are sent to the seniors first, and the rest goes to the underclassmen that declared early. 90% of those players came from Division -1 FBS school programs that produced the most NFL talent. The scouting committee would evaluate each player and would grade them by their performances on the field. After evaluation, the committee would send out letters to the players that stood out to them.
For guys like Leonard, he never stood out compared to others that plays the same position. For three straight years, no FIU player received an invite to the NFL combine.
So if Leonard didn’t get invited, does that mean he won’t get drafted? It doesn’t necessarily work that way. Thousands of players from different schools are capable of participating at the NFL Combine compared to those that did participated.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how fast they run at the 40-yard dash, how much they could bench press, how high or far they can jump, the highlight films will still remain there like a résumé. For the players that didn’t get invited, they still have a chance to impress the NFL scouts during their NFL Pro Days. An NFL Pro Day is exactly like the NFL combine. The only difference is that scouts will come to the universities to evaluate the NFL prospects.
So if any player did horrible at the combine, they get a second chance to impress the scouts one more time before they make their final evaluation. For players like Leonard, it’s their only chance to impress the scouts before the NFL Draft.
FIU’s Pro Day is yet to be announced, but look for Leonard to be one of the participants.