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From the Press Box: Combine and Draft Methodology

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From the Press Box: Combine and Draft Methodology

So this week I'll be at the Combine, though as seems to be the case with about half the people I know, I'm having problems with credentials.

The good news is, I have work which will happen credential or not. The bad news is that I might have a lot of time to spend in hotel rooms.

However, I will probably have some coverage from Indianapolis to match up what CHTV will already have (both Aaron Nagler and, I believe, Brian Carriveau will be there.)

The Combine is both critical and meaningless. On the one hand, it allows teams to see a lot of players, some of whom they have had less exposure to. It gives them time to interview the players, and see them performing next to players at the same position. All of the drills have a purpose and a reason for being, though their importance can be blown out of proportion (I'm looking at you 40 yard dash).

None of them, however, should ever supplant tape and film. Sometimes, teams will seemingly get caught up in performances at the Combine an forget that. More accurately, media and fans will get caught up in it, though sometimes teams will do the same.

The Combine, like so many things about the NFL draft tends to get blown out of proportion to its meaning. I've often wondered if draft analysts adjust their rankings too frequently to begin with in order to have something to write.After all, if tape is king, as so many claim, how much can you change your assessment of a player once you've seen it and studied it? Perhaps for the less known and lower rated prospects, sure. But it even happens with more well known prospects.

And not just one or two spots, but sometimes several rounds.

Certainly this seems to happen a lot post-Combine.

Which is a nice segue into our next topic. Not long ago I promised to give you a look into how I break down players. This will be a general overview, as each position requires a different way of examination.

A lot of this is also over at my personal site,, so if you've read it there, you know a lot of what I'm about to say.

When it comes to analysis, my process is pretty straightforward. I watch as many games during the fall as I can (considering the NFL coverage I have to do, it's limited), making general notes on each major player as I go.

After the season is over, I go back and watch the players again more closely.  For the highest level prospects I watch no less than three games closely. I usually pick on very good game, one game where the prospect struggled (easier to do with quarterbacks than, say, offensive tackles) and one game in between.  If at all possible, I watch games where players are going up against top talent. Ranked teams, top defenses, top offenses.

When an analyst mentions  prospect not playing against quality opponents, then it's becomes an issue. It's harder to predict how a player's game translates to the NFL level when he's playing against poor quality opposition.

For each position I am tracking different factors and, depending on position, charting various aspects of the position (for example, pass location for quarterbacks, effectiveness of running back to which side of the line, whether a corner is in man or zone and how successful he is).

I then take all my notes and compile them into some cohesive thoughts about what a player can do now, as well as what he might be able to do at the pro level.

My plan is to write up as many individual players as possible at but I'm just me, so I might not have time to transfer all my notes for all the positions. I'll link or post them here as well, starting with quarterbacks and wide receivers as that is what I'm in charge of for the CHTV draft guide.

After that, it'll be a smattering of different positions, and as I said, I don't expect to get through writing up close to all of them.I'll have watched everyone but it takes a long time to write it up in a neat, cohesive and presentable package.

But we have an extra two weeks so, who knows?

As I go over various players, I'll post here how I looked over a specific position to again give you more insight into how I do what I do.

Next week, I'll have some Combine notes and probably some other rankings.


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (67) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand1's picture

I am green with envy at Stroh. He has an official hater, I want one too. Nothing like lambasting the trolls with facts to get your own fan club. WTG Stroh. The Combine doesn't measure a players heart. Nothing replaces real game experience. The combine is a media frenzy and gives fans something to talk about.

4thand1hater's picture

You're welcome.

Stroh's picture

No fair. He had to ask for one, I had to earn mine! LMAO

Stroh-Hater's picture

The only thing you've earned is my boot on your ass you little bitch!!

4thand1's picture

LMFAO. Now I can sleep at night.

al's picture

mean and nasty up front ..........

cLowNEY42's picture

Packers are dead last by a WIDE margin when it comes to both average games played by 1st round picks (8.2) and average games started by 1st round picks (4.4) since 2010 (blah blah blah injury blah blah blah excuse).

But, yeah - let's keep rolling with this whole DRAFT-PLUG'N'PLAY philosophy (I'll start using the phrase "draft and develop" again when I see a first round pick actually... you know... DEVELOP).


No matter what happens this offseason the fact still remains that the center of our defense will include Pickett or Raji or a rookie/ B. Jones or a rookie and Hawk/ Burnett and Jennings or a rookie.


4thand1's picture

So what you're saying is the #1 picks didn't get injured. You really are (blah, blah, blah blind, ignorant, and inexcusable blah, blah blah.) Also really phuccin dumb.

cLowNEY42's picture

Sherrod couldn't beat out Lang or Newhouse during his rookie year (here comes the short offseason excuse).

Perry couldn't beat out Walden his rookie year... and then was losing snaps to an out of position Neal last season. (here comes the he wasn't all the way back from his foot injury excuse).

D. Jones played less than 1/4 of the team'd defensive snaps last season and by the end of the season was losing snaps to a fellow rookie - 5th rounder, by the way (here comes the ankle injury hampered his progress and the it takes time for rookies DL'men to adjust excuses).

Bulaga gets a pass...unless he gets hurt AGAIN. Then you can toss him to the street.


These super heros played more snaps than the 1st rounders at their position... even when all were healthy.

That's a problem.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Clowney I'm calling Perry, DatoneJ and Worthy the 'bust triplets'. I man really, is rushing the passer in college any more rocket science than in the NFL.
I'll give Perry this, they made him play a different position. One that requires mental preparation. He's had two years to prepare (albeit some injury issues) and my assessment, he does not posses the mental abilities to play LB.
I saw teams made their biggest yardage running to the right side around him.

Worthy was analized pre draft as a guy who got lost in games. I watched him play at MSU and can attest to that. Expect little from him.

Datone has that wide body. Not sure if he came to camp overweight or what know nothing about him other than he showed me zip this year.

Stroh's picture

Apparently you don't pay attention to the NFL! Very few college DL come into the NFL and are studs in their 1st or 2nd years! But don't let that fact deter you from proving what little you know about the NFL!

Phatgzus's picture

Actually, the knock on Worthy is that he took plays off (lacked drive and/or stamina) not that he got lost, and that dropped his value down to 2nd-round level (which is where he was drafted).

Jones is not overweight, in fact he's the opposite; furthermore, he did show something (3.5 sacks and a handful of hurries and good run stops), not a whole lot, but there WERE flashes; the reason he didn't show you anything is because you weren't observing properly-either because you don't have the physiological or cognitive ability (i.e. An inexorable desire to confirm your negative initial assumptions of Jones, likely rooted in the fact that he's not the pick you wanted or that you dislike
TT to the point that you want his picks to be failures so that they reaffirm your disdain for the man).

If you're going to attempt troll with a quiverful of facts, here's a bit of advice: First confirm that your opinions are actually based on information that is, ya know, factual, or at least not absolutely contradictory to your beliefs.

zeke's picture

Please stop responding to these morons. I'm as guilty as anyone of feeding the trolls, but we have to start somewhere. Courage.

Jordan's picture

I agree clowney42. Ted Thompson needs to be more like Jerrah Jones of the Cowboys. A real GM would have a lot more dead money weighing the team down. Ted Thompson needs to take lessons from Jerrah. ;)

Seriously though, it's better to make mistakes in the draft than it is free agency, because dead money will get you fired in a heartbeat and set the organization back for years. Jerrah Jones would have been fired if he didn't own the team. The Packers may have had some setbacks due to draft picks not working out, but Jerrah has dug the cowboys in to a serious hole. TT has not dug the team in to a deep hole. It's just little pot-hole.

Also, keep in mind he built the defense with an assumption that our offense is going to get a big lead in the game because they're "so good" and teams are going to be playing from behind and having to throw. McCarthy's offense put up zero points in first quarter of playoff game vs 49ers and never had the lead. There's plenty of blame to go around besides TT. If I'm pointing fingers, I'm pointing fingers at McCarthy and the offense. All Mccarthy wants to talk about in the media is the defense and special teams. He's not saying a word about his consistently slow offensive starts and zero points in first quarter. I'm not saying McCarthy is throwing capers under the bus, but McCarthy needs to focus on why his great offense is not getting the job done against teams with a winning record.

cLowNEY42's picture

Even Dallas has drafted better than the Packers since 2010... and it's not close.

All I'm saying is that if all you're going to do is draft... you better not be the worst in the league at it.

And - yes - I agree with you on the offense... it's been padding it's stats against bad teams for quite a while now. you're preaching to the choir on that one.

jmac3444's picture

Judging the draft by the first round alone is incredibly short sighted. TT has done a fantastic job in rounds 2-7.

cLowNEY42's picture


stop it.

Hank Scorpio's picture


stop it.

Look for yourself, Clowney.

Go back to 1992 and check Ron Wolf's record in rounds 2-7 for comparison. Maybe pull up some other teams from '05-'13 for more comparison. If you check the Mike Sherman years ('02-'04), TT's record is vastly undersold by 'fantastic'.

BTW..The draft is a simple exercise. It's not complicated by 'hit percentage' or the record in a particular round. It's a bottom line thing that only matters how many guys that can play are selected. Look at 1999. Horrible picks in round 1-2. Awesome picks in Mike McKenzie (3rd) and Driver (7th). De'Mond Parker, Cletidus Hunt and Josh Bidwell made contributions. Aaron Brooks was flipped for another pick after backing up for a few years. Heck, even Fred Vinson (epic 2nd round bust) was flipped for Ahman Green, who was a fairly decent RB as I recall. That's a great draft headlined by 2 guys that couldn't play their way out of a wet paper bag.

Jordan's picture

Don't forget about TT's unwritten mandate to draft and/or sign "packer people". That cuts his pool of players immediately in half. Teams like Dallas and San Francisco will sign anybody regardless.

Jolly and Walden are the only two players that have found any real trouble in recent history and ironically they are/were two of the most violent players and hardest hitters on the team. Other than Matthews, the guys on D are gentle tacklers and choir boys.

Hank Scorpio's picture

One of my favorite Packers from the Wolf era was Wayne Simmons. Great LB. Mean and nasty guy that would hit anything and everything on the field. But a bit of a salty character. You need guys like that.

Just not too many of them.

WKUPackFan's picture

The Saints cut two players last week that will count for over $6 million in dead money. Read that closely Clowney, Morgan, and Arlo: Two = over $ 6 million. That's poor management and bad planning. TT and Russ Ball will never let that happen to the Packers.

Sorry Zeke, I couldn't resist. Please forgive me.

Stroh's picture

Just curious... Who did they release? Anyone that might be useful or was it underperforming overpaid types?

Never mind I found them. It is reported at Saints official site as Jabari Greer, Roman Harper and Will Smith. Which of them were your referring to?

WKUPackFan's picture

Greer = 2.65 million; Harper = 3.5+ million, per PFT.

Hank Scorpio's picture

The 1st round has not been kind to the Packers lately. And it has cost them. But it is 1 of 7 rounds. Sure, it is the most important of the 7. Maybe 20% of the draft instead of the 14% an even distribution would suggest---just to put some numbers on it.

How are the Packers doing in the 2nd round? Collins, Jennings, Cobb, Nelson, Lacy, and Hayward (among others). Is there anybody better at it in the league? If "hit percentage" is any guide, the Packers ought to trade out of round 1 for a couple of 2nds every year.

What about the 3rd and 4th, where much of the core of depth of a team comes? The Packers record in those rounds is not nearly as impressive as their incredible 2nd round history but it ain't bad either. James Jones, Sitton, Lang, Finley, Bakhtiari, Burnett and Mike Daniels have come out of those 2 rounds.

The nature of the draft is such that it favors more 'at bats'. Getting more 1sts costs a lot. Getting more later picks, not so much. And that is TT's true strength in drafting. He understand it doesn't matter what round you find a player, just that you find him.

The people that think Offseason Championships mean something always want the "splash" move..sign a big-time free agent or move up to draft a can't miss stud prospect. The problem is that there is no such animal as a the 'can't miss' player acquisition. Since those Offseason Championships mean nothing, every time I see the Packers trade down, I smile.

RC Packer Fan's picture

The combine is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.
The combine should be a tool to basically prove what the game tape has shown as far as players speed and whatnot.

The problem is the combine has become all about the numbers. To many times it pushes guys up the boards where they shouldn't be drafted. And they turn out to be busts.

This year I think a guy like Hageman could potentially come away really good at the combine and move way up the draft board.

Stroh's picture

Hageman's already considered a 1st rd talent before the combine. He isn't likely to move up much, maybe to 15 at the highest precisely becuz he doesn't show his ability on every play. Teams already know that and they won't forget it. I think the days of the combine being what drives a player too high are nearly over. Every now and then a team has a complete bust of a combine stud, but they probably rated the player too highly in the first place.

A perfect example is Taylor Mays. Went to big school, high profile recruit, didn't play to his status in college and put up amazing combine numbers. He did't get overdrafted... He went in the middle of the 2nd. Teams were leary of his outstanding combine but less than stellar play, so they didn't draft him in the 1st.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yes, Hageman is considered a first round pick. But I think he might be a player that could end up in the top 12 or so picks which he shouldn't be. Should be 20-30 range. That is my thinking with him.

Just about every year there are players that get drafted higher then they were originally thought to be mostly based on what they did at the combine.

I agree that teams don't overdraft players due to their combine numbers as much as they used too(probably because Al Davis isn't around anymore). But there still are players that get drafted higher then most thought they would be based on their numbers.
We will never know if it was the team basing it on the combine or if it was the team had the player rated higher originally.

My whole point though is that the combine is just another tool for scouts and gm's to determine where to rate a player. IMO, the combine should really be used to confirm the game tape of players.

Stroh's picture

It is just another tool. IMO the best way to look at it is, if you have 2 players rated very similarly, the combine can allow you a better view into which has the higher potential. 2 players rated very similarly out of college go to the combine and one test poorly in a category (use quickness cuz its THE most important trait IMO) and the other test quite a bit better in quickness, it gives you an idea which one to take first, cuz he has the one trait that should allow him to succeed at a higher level.

It gives teams a chance to put all the players side by side and make the final small differences more easy to recognize.

Stroh-Hater's picture

I wouldn't trust anything Strohman says. He's a known troll.

Stroh's picture

Everyone already knows your the real troll. But thanks again for paying homage to me! I never get tired of seeing you comment.

Eraserhead's picture

Shoot him or something.

ray nichkee's picture

Hey clown head, you are at it again. Some of the stuff you say is true but we all know it. You need TT credit for pulling players out of the shitheap no other teams wanted. Those are the guys that make or break a team. When you draft in the first round all the obvious first round gems are gone by rounds 10-15 anyway. When was the last time the packers sucked that bad. Would you rather have baltimore's defenses of the past while constantly plugging holes in offense and stuck with joe flake-o? If any of these so called draft busts(I'm not saying they will all just suddenly kick ass) produce on the field next year will you stop your ignorant BS? I doubt it because you are the equivelant of a frigid female who will never have anything done right. I am embarrassed that packer nation has so called packer fans like you that breath their cock breath on the rest of society.

cLowNEY42's picture

Sherrod, Perry, and D. Jones are average players at best.
If they were 3rd/4th rd picks that would be OK. Since they were 1st rounders that makes them busts.

If Bulaga gets hurt AGAIN then he's a bust as well.

Please keep calling me names.

I've noticed that people get most upset when they know the person they're disagreeing with is actually right... and they just don't want to have to admit it.

WKUPackFan's picture

Please explain again your theory of how injuries equate to a player being a bust and how injuries constitute excuses. Injuries are facts, they're reality. There is no speculation needed. Conversely, your opinion that Perry, Worthy, Sherrod, and Datone are average players is not fact based. None have played even half of the games of their careers, due to the fact of injuries.

I also don't understand how any GM, including TT, is supposed to have clairvoyant knowledge at draft time as to whether a 1st or 2nd round pick will subsequently break a leg, foot, wrist or tear an ACL.

Cow42's picture

Of course injuries can cause a player to be a bust. Was j. Harrell a bust? Yes. Why? Injuries.

WKUPackFan's picture

Harrell is an exception, and a true bust, because of being drafted off an injury. TT hasn't made that mistake again.

Jordan's picture

You can't call Bulaga a bust because he was the starting right tackle on a Super Bowl winning team. Even if he never plays another down for packers, he did a stellar job against a wicked Pittsburgh player in XLV. So the pick of Bulaga was instrumental to a Lombardi trophy and by default, can never be considered a bust no matter what.

Too soon to say about the others.

Stroh's picture

Busts based on what exactly? Surely it hasn't been their play, since not one of them has really played enough to call them anything at this point! Worthy a rookie season, Sherrod about 5 games and Perry approximately one full season of playing experience (17 starts to date). God your soo f'in biased against the Packers it utterly idiotic! Go away Troll!

WKUPackFan's picture

I guess Clowney isn't interested in explaining his theory.

Cow42's picture

That'S just it. If you can't play because you're hurt all the time then you are a bust.

Stroh's picture

Worthy, Sherrod and Hayward for that matter have ONE injury and now they're not just busts, they're injury prone too, is that it?

When you start saying anything credible it'll be the first and others might actually take you serious!

WKUPackFan's picture

I accept your opinion, but I disagree and believe it goes against the generally accepted definition. A player without a significant injury history in college shouldn't be considered a bust when injuries befall them in the pros. Of course, if injuries keep them off the field it turns out to be a "bad" pick, but that's a matter of luck, not talent evaluation.

Hank Scorpio's picture

But the draft ain't the McDonald's Drive Thru. There is no instant service. Morons judge a draft after one year...or even worse, immediately after the draft and before the players have so much as put on shells for rookie orientation camp. The NFL is littered with stars that did little or nothing for a year or two. Calling Datone Jones a bust at this point is foolish. And suggest those that do so are fools.

Sherrod and Perry are facing make or break years. Injuries have derailed them so far but, like Justin Harrell, eventually injuries can define a player. Maybe you can add Worthy into that group, although I would not. To suggest that the book is written on any of those guys is premature, at best.

ray nichkee's picture

Clown, your comments are your opinion and unless they become facts they remain opinions. Time will tell. In the meantime what makes you right? Your constant commenting and the attitude you present yourself with along with the fact that not many agree with you is what leads to the name calling. Present some facts to your claim of being right. Until TT cuts one of these guys or let's them walk they are not a bust. Justin harrell-often injured-bust, jamal reynolds-sucked-bust, bj sander-punter 3rd rd-bust. Give it time, in the meantime go stroke it, stroker

4thand1's picture

Cowpie is like a drug nobody can resist and he knows it. I myself try to ignore his ridiculous comments but start shaking and have to get my fix and respond. He should change his name to crackcowcaine.

ray nichkee's picture

Your view of cowpie clownhead is different than mine. He is a bacon strip in your underwear. Let's face it, we all get em from time to time, and most of the time we can shuffle our way to the bathroom without anybody noticing. He on the other hand is that bacon strip you wish you never had, that one that makes you throw your underwear away and go commando for the rest of the day, that one that ruins your favorite pair of pants. Am I giving that shit streak cowpie too much credit? I'd like to hear other peoples thoughts.

Phatgzus's picture

Thank you for ruining bacon for me forever...well for the week...well, the rest of the day.

Phatgzus's picture

Gotta agree with 4th on this one-Cow's so awful he's addictive, like Sharknado or fast food or, as he said, crack.

ray nichkee's picture

You can't ruin bacon. I bet if somebody was frying that shit in front of you right now your mouth would be watering.

4thand1's picture

had to laugh

Cow42's picture

Put it this way... It would be reckless to bank on Jones, worthy, and perry to improve the defense. Better have a plan b in case they continue to contribute at the level they have up to this point.

Stroh's picture

It wouldn't be reckless, it would be Draft And Develop! They really only need one of them to become a playmaker to have a dramatic impact on the D. Only Perry has played meaningful minutes and he plays a transitional position that take an adjustment. Only an idiot would write them off like you do ad nauseum!

ray nichkee's picture

Thanks clay, people need to understand the idea of fans posting to converse with fans. Nobody likes negative a-holes posting like they know better than the personnel running the team. At the same time people can have a discussion about things and not agree upon them. I have enjoyed many educated comments from several posters and that is why we come here. Does anybody like the guy who immediately calls for a head when something goes wrong? This is a freaking game we need to enjoy and success has poisoned the brains of bus stop fans who get on and off. (Go stroke it cowpie) did you notice clowbney42 has gone back to cow42? Does he have any other aliases? I have some advice for you cowpie/baconstrip, go slam your head in the toiletseat to clear your brain, give yourself a swirlie to wake yourself up and if you still feel like the same old douchebag then your fib ass should be a bears fan. Root for cuntler and rip an their team.

Clay's picture

Amen and de nada Ray...hope to share a cold one with you at Lambeau someday!

Eraserhead's picture


Eraserhead's picture

Reckless, yet you know it's bound to happen.

Clay's picture

Well said Ray re Cowpie...

This is a forum wherein we hopefully exchange informed OPINIONS with some humility since we are not actual football executives. I really do learn from some of you guys and dig it.
It is the WAY Cow presents his opinions that is the problem. He states them as fact, and they are always predictably negative. This is why he call him a troll, and why there is nothing constructive or useful about his posts.
As evidence I submit the following statement from Cow, which I lovingly cut and pasted. This is his prediction for the forthcoming off season. I have already offered to bow down to him if this comes true:

"Any “new” starter who wasn’t on the roster this past season will be a draft pick. Take that to the bank.

If this whole “we’re gonna go crazy in free agency” story actually did come from inside the Packers – it was/is simply a negotiating ploy being used in hopes of bringing down the costs of all their own FA’s.

As pedestrian as Pickett, Raji, Neal, Quarless, EDS, J. Jones, and Kuhn are… they’ll all be Packers again next year.

What in God’s name is making anyone even consider the idea that TT will do ANYTHING other than overpay his own guys, draft guys out of position early (Perry, Raji, Neal, D. Jones) and “retrain” them to “fit their scheme”, and fill roster holes with late round guys?"

There you have it boys. PLEASE HOLD HIM TO THIS PREDICTION so he may finally understand (when the prediction crumbles like almost all others of his) why he annoys us so much.

But then again yes what would life be without him?

4thand1's picture

I'm sure he'll be hoping for Rodgers to get injured again when he makes his 6-10 prediction for this season. I've been a Packer fan for 50 years and know what sucks looks like. This team is far from sucking.

Cow42's picture

I am 100% confident that no starters will be brought in via FA.

4thand1's picture

You are the least confident poster I've ever seen.

Clay's picture

Read your own words also said this:

"As pedestrian as Pickett, Raji, Neal, Quarless, EDS, J. Jones, and Kuhn are… they’ll all be Packers again next year."

We will hold you to your ENTIRE prediction.

Once again I would ask that you leave forever if it doesn't come true, but I know that is too much to ask.

After all, you won't just admit how wrong you have been in the past...when you were also 100% confident.

1) 6-10
2) Lacy a bust
3) That you were leaving this website.

Sweet Great Spirit, you couldn't even fulfill a prediction you had control over!!!!

zeke's picture

"PLEASE HOLD HIM TO THIS PREDICTION so he may finally understand (when the prediction crumbles like almost all others of his) why he annoys us so much."

He already knows. That's why he keeps posting, as he explained last year: he gets off on the reaction. And if helping him get off doesn't make you want to take a bath in a tub of bleach, please call for help.

Clay's picture

Haha true Zeke...I am one of those who has failed to ignore him despite knowing it is the best policy. He is like the Blob but feeds on insults negativity and attention. He gets larger and larger with every word we hurl! I hereby pledge to greatly reduce my carbon emissions AND my Cow feeding!

ray nichkee's picture

Hey cow, if you got all this inside information why don't you hook us up more? I don't expect much from you until after the combine because I'm sure you will be wining and dining with the gm's, scouts, and agents but when you get back tell us who the packers will draft. Buy adam shefter a beer for me and pick his brain, wait you already did that. Anyway have fun. We will all be waiting for your expertise.

Eraserhead's picture

Thompson needs to PACK his bags (get it dickheads?) and stay away from Green Bay.

ray nichkee's picture

...........and make room for cow and arlo to run the team. By the way eraser, are you another reincarnation of the mad cow disease or just another heckler wit an iq of a decomposing tree trunk?

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"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"The Bears still suck!"
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."