NFL Combine Stars That Never Dated | News, scores, highlights, stats and rumours

NFL Combine Stars That Never Came Out

0 out of 7

    John Ross IIIAP Photo/Michael Conroy

    In the minds of all NFL personnel, there is a voice that reminds the individual that the NFL Scouting Combine is of limited value.

    The unlined setup is not a reflection of what happens on Sundays in the fall. Prospective coaches are trained specifically for practices that often only indirectly affect their performance in real games. College film should be the most impressive part of any evaluation.

    However, this inner voice is occasionally overridden. And the result can be a combination star that becomes a bust.

    While NFL history is littered with workable examples — such as Tony Mandarich in 1989 — the following group is a selection of players who entered the league over the past 20 years.

Aaron Curry

1 out of 7

    SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 13: Aaron Curry #59 of the Seattle Seahawks gets ready at the line during the game against the St.  Louis Rams at Qwest Field on September 13, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    As the 2009 combine came to a close, NFL personnel undoubtedly came away very impressed with Aaron Curry.

    The linebacker posted a 4.52-second 40-yard dash with a 37-inch vertical jump and a 10’4-inch broad jump, which finished among the top five marks at his position. Curry solidified his billing as a star prospect.

    Curry was headed to the Seattle Seahawks as the No. 4 overall pick, bringing hope for a star defender. By his third season, Curry lost his starting job. Seattle dealt him to the Oakland Raiders, who soon waived him after a knee injury limited Curry to two games in 2012.

    Looking back, Curry later said he was motivated by poverty while at Wake Forest and no longer made football a priority when he signed the pro contract.

Vernon Golston

2 out of 7

    MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Vernon Golston #50 of the New York Jets plays defense against the Miami Dolphins on September 26, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida.  The Jets defeated the Dolphins 31-23.  (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    A year earlier, the New York Jets selected Ohio State pass rusher Vernon Gholston with the sixth overall pick.

    In short: It was a disaster.

    The memorable bust followed an epic performance at the 2008 Cubs. Gholston led all defensive ends with a 4.68-second 40, a 35.5-inch vertical, 37 bench reps and a 10’5-inch broad jump. This only showed his position as a coveted talent.

    But he just never contributed in a meaningful way to New York. Golston appeared in 45 games over three NFL seasons, totaling just 42 tackles and — most impressively — zero sacks.

Chris Henry

3 out of 7

    DENVER - NOVEMBER 19: Chris Henry #42 of the Tennessee Titans returns a kick against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 19, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.  The Broncos defeated the Titans 34-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    During the 2007 combine, future All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, jumped 10’7″ in the broad jump and posted a 38.5-inch vertical.

    Chris Henry, meanwhile, matched Peterson in both the 40 and broad jump, reaching 36 inches in the vertical and benching 26 reps. He beat Peterson in the 20-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill.

    Hello, cautionary tale.

    As it turns out, Henry’s limited production in college—892 yards on 3.3 carries—should have been a red flag.

    Still, the Tennessee Titans used a second-round pick on Henry. He managed 444 all-purpose yards his rookie year before being suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He recorded one single for the rest of his NFL career.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

4 out of 7

    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 31: Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders jumps would be Tackler Marcus Trufant #23 of the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL football game at The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 31, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Darius Hayward-Bey dazzled at the combine, tying Mike Thomas for the best with a 4.30-second 40-yard dash. Heyward-Bey also recorded a 38.5-inch vertical and a powerful three-pointer (6.80) and shuttle (4.18).

    That performance convinced the Oakland Raiders to use the seventh pick on the Maryland product.

    Although it is unfair to call him a bust, DHB has never had a significant role in a competitive team. He averaged 33.8 catches, 476 yards and 2.4 touchdowns in five seasons as a starting receiver. Those are good numbers for a complementary wideout, but expectations were much higher for a combo star picked at No. 7 overall.

    At the very least, Heyward-Bey deserves a round of golf applause for extending his career by half a decade as a regular contributor on special teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2014-18.

Matt Jones

5 out of 7

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 05: Matt Jones #18 of the Jacksonville Jaguars sits on the court during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on October 5, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    While at Arkansas, Matt Jones played basketball for one year before focusing on football as a starting quarterback.

    Given that history, it makes sense that he’d try good sports.

    Jones posted a blistering 4.37-second 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical jump and 10’9-inch broad jump. would have finished in the top five at the 2005 combine.

    After the Jacksonville Jaguars used the No. 21 overall pick on Jones, he steadily worked his way into a bigger role as a receiver. But in 2008, a violation of the league’s anti-substance policy cut the rest of the season and ultimately ended his career.

John Ross III

6 out of 7

    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 29: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (11) carries the ball during the game against the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals on December 29, 2019 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Owner of the fastest 40 time in combine history, John Ross III never developed into a reliable NFL contributor.

    As a rookie in 2017, everything from knee and shoulder injuries to healthy scratches limited the No. 9 overall draft pick to just one touch. Ross started 10 games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018 and scored seven touchdowns, but totaled just 21 receptions for 210 yards.

    Ross looked to have a breakout year in 2019, tallying 506 yards in eight appearances split evenly by a shoulder injury. This would be his last moment as a relevant player.

    The 2020 season included a series of healthy scratches and a leg injury with Cincinnati. Ross joined the New York Giants for the 2021 campaign, but caught 11 passes in 10 games.

Troy Williamson

7 out of 7

    SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 5: Troy Williamson #82 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball as he is tackled by Shawntae Spencer #36 of the San Francisco 49ers at Monster Park on November 5, 2006 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Troy Williamson averaged an explosive 19.3 yards per reception in three seasons at South Carolina. He ran a scorching 40-40 in 2005, and the Minnesota Vikings were convinced they had found a great replacement for a Hall of Famer.

    In a trade that sent Randy Moss to the Raiders, Minnesota acquired the No. 7 overall pick and eventually selected Williamson.

    The speedster played three seasons with the Vikings, tallying just 79 catches for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns while struggling badly on drops. Williamson also had a bad relationship with coach Brad Childress, later saying they could scrimmage at the 50-yard line.

    Minnesota traded Williamson to the Jaguars after the 2007 season. He totaled eight catches in 10 games over two years.

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