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Boston College And The NFL: Welcome To The Combine

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BC has one offensive lineman at the NFL Combine. What does it mean to his chances of being drafted, and what do teams typically look for?

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On Friday, the NFL Combine kicks off from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Over four days, scouts, coaches, and general managers representing each of the 32 National Football League franchises will watch, analyze, and attempt to determine if a player can fit within their game plan. It's the largest evaluation tool outside of a school's Pro Day, and it's one of the key moments for someone to show prospective teams what they've got.

This year, Boston College will be represented by one lone athlete: offensive lineman Andy Gallik. The former center for the Eagles, Gallik will partake in the challenge of going head-to-head with some of the biggest and brightest prospects in college football. Physically, they'll show what they can do in the 40-yard dash, the vertical and broad jumps, and the 3 cone shuttle drill. They'll run through position specific drills, and they'll be poked and prodded like pieces of meat for analysis on body fat and strength vs. speed.

Behind closed doors, they'll take part in mental evaluations like the Wonderlic Test. They'll undergo drug screening, job interviews, and injury evaluations. This is all done to put them mentally under stress and see how they respond with the hopes of determining leadership skills.

The Combine itself is controversial because it's so hard to determine if an athlete is better or worse than he shows. Former Eagle Mike Mamula had one of the best Combine workouts ever after he trained specifically for combine drills. After scoring high marks in the physical examinations, he scored a 49 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test, the second highest score ever recorded by an NFL player. This shot his draft stock up to the seventh overall position for the Philadelphia Eagles. When Mamula went bust, it showed how inaccurate a so-called "workout warrior" can appear.

Conversely, both Drew Brees and Tom Brady struggled at the Combine. The Combine judged Brees to be too small with a lack of downfield throwing ability. Brady turned in the second-worst time in the 40-yard dash among quarterbacks, and he showed some of the worst mobility and arm strength among a draft class that, quite honestly, wasn't that good. Brees fell to the Chargers in the second round, while Brady infamously wound up in the sixth round, 199th overall. Both would win Super Bowl MVPs and go onto All Pro careers, with Tom Brady arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.

Likewise, the Combine is important because it can raise red flags on an athlete. Prior to his Wonderlic test, the biggest complaint against Vince Young was his throwing motion. He was expected to be one of the top three picks in the draft, but he scored a 6 out of a possible 50 on the Wonderlic, widely recognized to measure a player's ability to learn complex NFL playbooks and read defenses. Tennessee ended up still taking him third overall based on his upside, but after NFL defenses figured out how to gameplan to him, his career flatlined and ended horribly.

The Combine remains one of the most controversial and thought-provoking pieces of the NFL. Teams like the Oakland Raiders long regarded the Combine as the most crucial part of the offseason evaluation process, and it's led them to players like Darrius Heyward-Bey. Chris Johnson turned in one of the best 40 times ever, leading the Titans to pick him with the 28th pick in the 2008 Draft. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in a single season.

While the spotlight of the Combine will be on other positions like quarterback, where Jameis Winston hopefully doesn't run the 40 shirtless like Andre Brown did a few years ago, it's a good measuring stick for players like Gallik. It's a chance for him to endear himself to a particular franchise with the draft coming up in a few months. It's a chance for him to wind up on a big board where he maybe wasn't before. While overblown for some players, it's a big moment for others.

The Combine can help or hurt an athlete's chances of being drafted. Gallik will be exposed to all 32 teams, including those with pressing needs at offensive line. While not expected to go in the first round, he has a chance to cement himself as a depth draft choice. Teams like Tampa Bay and the New York Giants have pressing needs for offensive linemen. Minnesota needs to address the position as well. The Dallas Cowboys don't have a true backup center, and neither do the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Weigh in with your thoughts on the Combine below, and let us know who you think might be looking at Gallik on Friday in Indianapolis.