Draft Nuggets 2013: Entry #9
By Jeff Bowers of www.thesportsnarrative.com
Evaluating the Scouting Combine:
Every year the entire NFL world descends on Indianapolis in late February for the NFL Scouting Combine. For the prospects, this is a chance to show their athletic talent in a variety of drill and their mental abilities in interviews with teams. For NFL front offices, this is an opportunity to evaluate these players outside the chaos of a college football game and begin to assemble their draft board for April. But, as with everything in the draft process, the evaluations are subjective and may vary widely from team to team. A number of players made headlines, both good and bad, so let’s take a look:
· Geno Smith, QB, West VA – Smith confirmed his athleticism by running a 4.59 40 (the safe as Cam Newton) and looking good in drills. Though probably not a candidate for the #1 overall pick, Geno Smith is still locked in to the top eight.
· Matt Barkley, QB, USC – Though he didn’t throw or run, Barkley impressed greatly in the interview room and on the chalk board and is getting buzz as the #2 QB on the board now and top 10 pick
· EJ Manuel, QB, Florida St – After being the best QB at the Senior Bowl, Manuel continued on a good roll at the Combine. Nice measurables and interviews have Manuel projected at the top of round 2.
· Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas – Davis was a workout warrior at the Combine, putting up a 4.37 40 at 227lbs and the second most reps among RBs on the bench press at 31. Questions about his injury history will be an issue, but Davis is a solid mid round prospect and a possible Cowboys target.
· Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan St – Bell clearly has been working hard during the draft process, dropping 8 lbs to come in at an even 230lbs and running a quick 4.52 40. Hoping to break the mold of plodding Big 10 RBs of the past, Bell put himself into Day 2 consideration.
· Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M – After a great week at the East/West Shrine game, Michael puts up a 43 inch vertical, 27 reps of 225lbs and a 4.54 40. Michael is a nice sleeper who could slip into the late 3rd or early 4th
· Tavon Austin, WR, West VA – Austin backed up all that playmaking he did in college with an impressive 4.34 40 and climbed up into the conversation of a first round pick
· Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas – He didn’t quite reach his goal of breaking Chris Johnson’s 40 time of 4.24, but 4.27 isn’t too shabby and will get him into the 2nd round for sure.
· Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M – While everyone expected excellent times from track star Goodwin, Swope’s 4.34 40 was a shock. But that and his size will have him moving up draft boards
· Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame – With a lot of competition for the top TE this year, Eifert used the Combine to really separate himself. Nice size, a 4.68 40 and natural pass-catching ability makes him clearly the #1 TE on the board.
· Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas – A very quick 4.50 40 and nice athleticism in drills made a nice impression for Gragg. Although he does have a sketchy injury history, Gragg should get drafted on potential alone.
· Vance McDonald, TE, Rice – McDonald threw up 31 reps of 225lbs on the bench press and backed that up with some nice speed and good work in blocking drills. Has a nice chance of hearing his name on draft weekend now.
· Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan – Fisher’s domination in drills have him in contention for the #1 tackle in the draft, ahead of Joeckel. He could be the #1 overall selection in April
· Kyle Long, OT, Oregon – With only 1 year of experience on the Offensive Line, Long is a raw talent. But his natural athleticism showed through at the Combine and have him as a late 1st/early 2nd round prospect
· Terron Armstead, OT, Ark-PB – Perhaps no lineman caused more buzz than Armstead, as the 6’5” 306lb tackle blazed a 4.71 40 and backed it up with nice work in drills. Armstead sent a lot of scouts home to look at more tape of him for April’s draft
· Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon – Jordan was beasting all weekend, with a 4.60 40 and impressive quickness in drills. Jordan could be the first pass rusher off the board in April.
· Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida – Floyd was excellent in drills and is clearly the #1 DT on the board, especially after the news of the Star Lotulelei heart condition came out
· Tank Carradine, DE, Florida St – Perhaps no D-lineman helped himself more than Carradine despite still recovering from injury. Current buzz is that with a clean bill of health he could be as high as late 1st/early 2nd range now.
· Jonathan Bostic, OLB, Florida – Bostic ran a speedy 4.61 40 and was solid in drills placing himself solidly as a WLB prospect in the 2nd round
· Jamie Collins, DE/OLB, Southern Miss – Collins, at 6’3” 250lbs, jumped a whopping 41.5 inch vertical and nearly broke the vertex. An 11’7” broad jump and a 4.59 40 put Collins in the “high upside” category
· Cornelius Washington, DE/OLB, Georgia – Officially the “workout warrior” of the LB class, Washington threw up 36 reps of 225lbs, ran a 4.55 40 at 6’4” and 265lbs and has 34 inch arms. Without much playing time at Georgia, Washington needed a day like that.
· Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St – Rhodes took advantage of his opportunity to separate himself from a pack of CBs and moved solidly from the early 2nd into first round contention
· Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington – After impressing at the Senior Bowl, Trufant continued his march forward with a great 40 (4.38) and superior drill work. Like Rhodes, could easily be a 1st rounder
· Darius Slay, CB, Miss St – While his Miss St counterpart struggled at the Combine, Slay excelled in every phase, running 4.36 40 and rocking the drills.
§ Mike Glennon, QB, NC State – Glennon was once thought to be the #2 QB on the board, but a tough day in on-field drills did little to answer his accuracy questions. Could fall well into round 2
§ Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas – Wilson had the smallest hands of any QB at the Combine, which explains some of his fumbling issues in college. In drills his arm looked just average and Wilson could slip down into round 3.
§ Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma – Inconsistency and bad footwork plagued Jones in drills at the Combine and could find him falling into Day 3 in the draft.
§ Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – Though he had an amazingly productive college career, Ball did not do well at the Combine. A 4.66 40 and very pedestrian vertical and broad jump harkens back to the litany of under-performing Wisconsin RBs.
§ Stephen Taylor, RB, Stanford – Taylor showed little burst in drills or the 40 and could fall out of the top 4 rounds of the draft.
§ Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno St – When a speed back is without much size and runs slower than some offensive lineman in the 40 (4.80), he probably won’t hear his name on draft day.
§ Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina – It was a surprise that the 5’7” Sanders declared early for the draft in January, and a 4.58 40 and struggles in drills confirm those doubts. Sanders may only be a KR in the pros and therefore is a late round prospect at best.
§ Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon St – Wheaton ran a decent 40 (4.51) but in drills he looked pretty awful. Catching with your body in the pros is just not good. He’s a 3rd day pick
§ Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas – In a really solid class of wideouts, Hamilton just showed nothing special. Smallish hands and average speed will cause him to slip a bit on some boards
§ Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford – Ertz didn’t have a bad Combine, but he really didn’t capitalize on his chance to move to the #1 TE spot. Short arms and average speed will probably send him into round 2
§ Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford – The other Stanford TE had a terrible Combine. A 4.86 40 and only 17 reps on the bench left the 6’8” TE with height as his only plus asset.
§ Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia – After a dreadful Senior Bowl, Aboushi was hoping to rebound at the Combine. But a terrible day in drills could push him into the back end of the draft now.
§ Braxston Cave, C, Notre Dame – Another player trying to rebound from the Senior Bowl, Cave looked really slow in every drill and doesn’t belong anywhere in the first 5 rounds
§ Joe Madsen, C, West VA – Generally NFL teams want their centers to have at least 32 inch arms or more so they can snap and keep defenders at bay. Madsen’s tiny T-Rex arms were only 30 inches long and that is tough to overcome
§ Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – During the medical exam, it was revealed that Lotulelei has a heart condition. The severity is still unclear, but a tough break for a man who was clearly a top 5 pick
§ Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M – Moore had a nightmare Combine. Only 12 reps on the bench, an abysmal 4.95 40 and reports of character issues have Moore falling from top 10 well into the bottom of round 1 or more
§ Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU – Mingo looked fine on the field, but telling reporters that you took plays off and that “incentive” programs at LSU helped you play hard draws red flags all over the place
§ Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame – Te’o performed well in front of the media, but on the field he looked stiff and slow. With the issue of performance under pressure seeming to arise again, Te’o may slip into round 2
§ Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia – The medical exam on Jones’s spinal condition did not check out very well and he could be completely off some team’s boards now.
§ Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford – Slow and not strong is not the description you want out of the Combine. Thomas could go completely undrafted now
§ Jonathan Banks, CB, Miss St – Once thought to be in contention for the #1 rated CB, Banks struggles in the 40 (4.59) and on the bench (10 reps) could have him out of the 1st round entirely
§ Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma – Rumors of Jefferson being a poor practice player and not a weight room guy were not eased with some less than impressive measurables.
§ Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU – Though he ran a solid 40 (4.50), Mathieu showed little workout commitment with only 4 reps on the bench. With all the off-field questions already an issue, he needed a flawless Combine and didn’t get it
Pro Day Workouts:
So up next for these prospects are their individual Pro Days. Keep checking back here for all the latest info. Here’s the schedule of the Pro Days (subject to change):
March 1: Purdue, Texas-El Paso
March 4: Alabama-Birmingham, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota State, Troy
March 5: Auburn, Buffalo, Harding, Jackson State, Missouri Southern State, Northwestern, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tuskegee, Youngstown State
March 6: Alabama A&M, Duquesne, Eastern Washington, Kent State, Mississippi State, North Alabama, Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Texas Tech, Wisconsin
March 7: Arizona, Arkansas-Monticello, Clemson, Furman, Idaho, Illinois, Miami (Fla.), Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Syracuse, Washington State
March 8: Arizona State, Cornell, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Missouri State, Montana, Mount Union, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Southern Mississippi, TCU, Texas A&M, Wofford
March 11: California (Pa.), Central Michigan, Penn State
March 12: Delaware State, Florida, Jacksonville State, Kansas State, Lehigh, Monmouth, Oklahoma State, Portland State, Toledo, Towson, Tulane, UCLA
March 13: Alabama, Central Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Colorado, Colorado State, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall, Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Washington
March 14: Arkansas State, California, Delaware, Fort Valley State, Georgia Tech, Grambling State, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Tulsa, UNLV, West Alabama, West Virginia, Wyoming
March 15: Arkansas, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Kansas, Oregon State, San Jose State
March 18: Air Force, Albany State (Ga.), Houston, Howard, Idaho State, Indiana, Memphis, Montana State, Valdosta State, Villanova, Virginia Union, Wake Forest
March 19: Florida A&M, Florida State, Louisville, Richmond (with Liberty), Sam Houston State, San Diego State, Virginia
March 20: Ball State, Baylor, Central Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina State, Ohio, Sacramento State, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia Tech, Western Kentucky
March 21: Boise State, Eastern Kentucky, Georgia, Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico State, Old Dominion, Stanford, Stony Brook, Temple, William & Mary
March 22: Missouri Western, Tennessee State, Vanderbilt
March 25: Duke, Iowa, Middle Tennessee State, Stephen F. Austin
March 26: Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, North Carolina, North Carolina Central, Notre Dame, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas
March 27: LSU, South Carolina, SMU, USC
March 28: BYU, Central Arkansas, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette, Yale
March 29: Southeast Missouri State
April 2: Columbia