What do sumo wrestlers, backflipping cheerleaders and “skeet shooting” have to do with the NFL Draft?
You can get your answer on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET when the ESPN Sport Science 2012 Draft Special airs on ESPN.
For the third consecutive year, host John Brenkus and the ESPN Sport Science team tested several college football stars’ skills.
“We want to create experiments that captivate people both visually and mentally,” said Brenkus, who added that no one — besides himself — was hurt in the course of these tests.
Brenkus played crash test dummy as some of the most impressive pass rushers sacked him in the name of science.
“It’s a shock wave through your whole body,” he said.
All of the prospects made time to stop by the ESPN Sport Science lab in the weeks after the February combine.
How did you come up with the sumo wrestlers concept?
We previously had [NFL tight end] Vernon Davis drag me. Clearly, I’m no match for Vernon Davis. We wanted to up the stakes on who we considered to be the best tight end coming out of the draft. With [Stanford tight end] Coby Fleener, we wanted something that was visually spectacular and challenging. (So we settled on) two sumo wrestlers, who [together] weighed as much as three standard refrigerators, to see if he could actually pull that.
Explain the experiment featuring Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd and the wall of cheerleaders.
We wanted to create a scenario where it would be very difficult to see a pass. We have a wall that we normally use, with a hole in the middle and a ball firing through it. But we wanted to do a dynamic scenario, something that would be not only distracting from a physical presence but from a mental [aspect]. Having flipping cheerleaders. . .certainly provided us with the distraction we needed. The window that Floyd had [to see the ball] was so small. . .He’s a gamer, for sure.
Do you have a favorite stunt?
THe one we did with [Oklahoma State quarterback] Brandon Weeden was just awesome. We had him skeet shooting in the lab with the football. He’d say,’Pull!’ and we’d fire a clay pigeon and he tried to knock it out of the sky. The pigeon is going so fast, the margin of error is 0.01 of a second. If he releases the ball too early or too late, it misses the pigeon by six inches.