So the Combine is over. I am a huge believer in that you can gain insight from these workouts. I am not saying that just because a guy runs a 4.4 or register 30 reps in the benchpress that you should draft him. What I am saying is that the Combine can show someone what you can and can not do. It can strenthen your status confirming that the tape is right. It can raise your stock by showing that you are a better athlete or possess more speed than they thought you had. But I also can not argue that in some of the drills, it can point out your weaknesses. For the most part you are what you put on tape, but teams will be re-examining footage to see if what they saw in person is the player you can be. Players like Steven Williams may have to ask why they do not play as fast as they ran at the combine? The combine is just another way to evaluate players. You should neither ignore these results nor base decisions soley on them. Here are some players who helped their draft status:
I think that it is clear. This is not the 2012 group. I do not expect for these quarterbacks to have the success that they did. But with that being said, there is still promise with this group.
EJ Manuel keeps playing his game and letting others do the talking. After being the number 1 QB at the senior bowl, Manuel came to the Combine and looked better. He made good throws and put the ball where the coaches wanted him to. With one of the strongest arms in the draft already, he showed that he can make those intermediate throws to pick up first downs in the NFL. With other QBs struggling to follow directions and throwing errant throws, Manuel just had to stay loose and do what he has been doing for most of the last three seasons at Florida State. At times he looked stiff, but experts think that with added coaching, EJ could turn into a solid Starter in the NFL. He also showcased his speed in the 40 yard dash by running a 4.6. He was just focused in on what he had to do. The future is bright for this young man.
Geno Smith had a solid day on and off the field. The number one ranked Quarterback in this years Draft impressed at every turn. Running a 4.5, making good throws, and impressing in the interview process. They guy gets what it means to be a quarterback in the NFL and a leader on the field. He is hard on his self and wants to be great. As athletic as Smith is, he wants to prove that he can be an elite quarterback with his arm. But once he learns to trust him self, he is going to be a tough weapon to stop.
Landry Jones and Tyler Bray started to have fun out there and just play football. Both he and Tyler Bray got better as the day went on. I believe that them being some of the throwing quarterbacks got them extra experience at what NFL coaches are looking for. To me they were not trying to impress but just trusting their arm and getting the job done. They were throwing good balls and did not try to be perfect. They both showed athleticsm that could come in handy at the next level. Bray also added on some weight to become more NFL ready. That has to be respected. Unlike some quarterbacks out there, I think he came prepared to show that he is ready.
Onterrio McCalebb Could have easily been an after thought in this Draft will all the star power and big names ahead of him. But he left a mark on these combines and reminded people why he was such a weapon for Cam Newton two years ago. The Auburn Tiger had the entire building shaking their head when they thought he had a 4.21. This type of speed will put the shifty back in a good position to see time in the NFL. At 164 pounds, McCalebb won’t be your typical NFL back, but in the right system he could be a weapon.
Kniles Davis set fire to the track as well running a 4.37 at almost 230 pounds. I can see the battle now between coaches and GMS arguing over if he is worth the risk or not. The Temptation of the Kniles. Coming off an injury in 2011, Kniles struggled through last season and did not look like himself. He might have told everyone that he is back and better than ever.
KenJon Barner was a tight and well built 5’9 190. He showed that that raw power at the bench press and did not disappoint with his FORTY time. Barner was one of the players that came in and handled business and had a great day but you will not hear much about due to so many stories coming out of this Combine. Kerwyn Williams, from Utah State, also had a good combine. He did well in all the drills and did himself a service. Whatever they are teaching their RBs at Utah State is working. Keep it up.
The Three Es (Eifert, Ertz, and Escobar) were all stacked up together. Both in the order of which they competed and draft order. Most scouts had Ertz first and Eifert second. This may have changed with Eifert having a great performance. Chris Gragg had the best Forty time, vertical and second best broad jump. His athleticism could have moved him up on some draft boards. Michael Williams had that same effect. And while Vince McDonald did not have crazy numbers, he was solid in all drills and caught the ball well. He has solid hands and approaches the game the right way.
Josh Boyce from TCU was always on the leader board. No matter what they did, Boyce’s name was attached to the top 5. Scouts always take notice of the players who are competing and Boyce showed up at every workout and drill.
Ryan Swope amazed me more than any other athlete. Even Tayvon Austin who stole the show. We knew he could catch, but running a 4.3 and having a 37 inch vertical were a pleasant surprise.
Justin Hunter and Markus Wheaton had solid all around performances. Both receivers came in faster than scouts thought. Performed well in drills and snatched the ball. Marquis Goodwin and Tayvon Austin ran very fast, but Tayvon showed that he was more NFL ready. Stedmon Bailey and Da’Rick Rodgers were the most consistent wide outs and showcased their talents very well.
Terron Armstead and Lane Johnson are some athletic wonders. Anytime you get big offensive lineman running faster than several skill players, you know that their athleticism is off the charts. In the drills, the top prospects all performed well. This may turn into the Big Boy Draft. With several offensive lineman and defensive lineman worthy of first round grades, it could shake up the Draft and move top talent into the second round. Menelik Watson and Brian Scwenke also had solid combines. Eric Fisher and Jonathan Cooper were stellar. Great job from these future pros.
Margus Hunt was another player who was already being scouted heavily that only boosted his chances of going high in the second round. The 6’8 277 pound Estonian ran a 4’6 in the forty and had an impressive 38 reps in the bench press. This made him the fastest and strongest Defensive Lineman, in theory. He was quick and explosive in drills and had solid footwork. Corey Lemonier also made and impact. No matter how he wants us to pronounce his last name, he just may give us time and practice to do so. Dion Jordan put up some good numbers but his performance in the drills was what had everyone talking. We knew the former Tight end was an athlete, but he has developed into a real outside linebacker threat and may have jumped up into the top 10. Travado Williams and Zigggy Ansah also showed up. Athleticism, hard work and receptiveness is never a bad combination. Sylvester Williams also did well, but can he maintain a good playing weight in the NFL to maintain his explosiveness.
Dion Jordan was crazy good. He will be selected in the Top 10 come Draft day. And the crazy thing is that he was moved around alot at Oregon. That is the one thing that I noticed more in this Draft is that due to players athleticism, coaches are forced to put you all over the field. And while it gives players a great feel for the game, it doesn’t allow them to showcase what they can do at their respective positions in the NFL. Getting to be more like High school in that regard.
Sio Moore got noticed at the Combine with his mixture of Speed and power and overall athleticism. With other big name Linebackers at the Combine, he was one of the guys that stood out and looked good in drills.
Marvelous feats of athleticism were showed by Jamie Collins and Cornelius Washington. Collins combine numbers: 4.6 in the Forty, 19 Reps of 225 lbs., a 40.5′ Vertical, 11’7 in the Broad jump, and a 7.1 in the three cone drill. The 6’3 250 lb specimen from Southern Miss exploded on to the scene and kept everyone watching. Washington was no slouch either: 4.55 in the Forty, 36 Reps, 39′ Vert, and 10.8 in the Broad Jump.
Jon Bostic was a question mark coming into the Combine, but may have impressed enough scouts to move up on the board. With the poor showing of Manti Te’o, Bostic was a name that came up regarding what else is here. And with the added attention, he did not shrink back. The same can be said for Zaviar Gooden from Missouri.
Tyrann Mathiu set the stage for himself brilliantly. By only having four reps of 225 lbs, everyone said that he better have a good day in the drills and run a solid 40 time. He did. With all eyes on him, he showed out and exubed confidence that lacked other players in these workouts. He said all the right things in the interviews and supported the other participants. His footwork was impeccable and it should be. If you had almost a year to prepare for this event, you should be ready for it. But I will take nothing from this kid. With all the pressure to come out and excel, he was the best looking player out there. This forced several of important people to make some difficult decisions. From perhaps being a sixth round pick to now being evaluated as a third round guy, he perhaps had the biggest change to his Draft stock. Xavier Rhodes and Dee Milner put the questions about speed to rest with Rhodes running a 4.4 and Milner running a 4.3. Clearly these two players will be the first two corners taken in this draft. Milner looked nervous in drills and focused too much on his footwork. Deion Sanders, HOF, Former Dallas Cowboy, an NFL Network analyst was urging him to relax and just enjoy the experience. He out of all the Corners looked a little “Too Pretty”. But again, maybe he was just nervous.
Robert Alford, from Southeastern Louisiana blazed the Forty Track with 4.39. He played high in some drills, but was spectacular in others. The small school product overall was a huge success.
Darius Slay was known as the other Corner in the Mississippi State secondary. But after the combine everyone knows his name. One of those Muhammed Ali moments: Say MY Name! This is a guy that I like because he was thrown to so many times due to the ball skills on Johnthan Banks. And once again he showed that with all the attention on other top rated corner backs, he was also a threat. He came out of the combine workouts having the better performance of the Mississippi State duos.
Steve Williams, Dwayne Gratz and Jamar Taylor also looked good. Williams was the Corner that ran an unofficial 4.25 that was changed to a 4.4. Either way, the job was done. He looked even better in the drills proving that his speed would translate to footwork. So many top end speed Corners do not work out in the league. Williams is hoping that he has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. Gratz had one of the most impressive work outs by running a 4.3, 22 reps, 10’5 in the broad jump and posting a 38 inch vertical. NC State Corner Donald Amerson is a name to keep in your back pocket from these combines. If you took notes, you noticed him. He has smooth hips, good footwork in all the drills and he snatches balls. Snatching is not just catching it, but actively going up and grabbing it out of the air. He, Slay, and Matthiu did the best with this. Brandon McGee also looked good but you wonder if he is just another workout warrior or does he has the ability to be an NFL Corner.
Matt Elam and Shawn Williams improved their stocks. They are athletic safeties that show good versatility. Matt Elam dropped a pass that lead his Combine team to do push-ups. It was a good thing to see though. How players were reacting in the drill and the competitive nature that it brought out. Peer pressure added on to everything else had an effect on some of these players. Rather you take this into consideration or not, interesting that some of these players could not come up with passes that were meant for them. I was impressed with Desmond Trufant in this drill and really his entire day. Love his attitude. It was reported that he went to his coach every game and demanded that he be on the other teams best receiver all day and with six picks and 38 pass deflections it was successful.
Shamarko Thomas from Syracuse may have fell while running his 4.4 forty, but his draft stock rose from his performance. He is a big strong kid who won’t wow you with his cover skills, but will make plays for your team. He was one of the guys that competed in every drill and improved his chances of getting drafted higher. Eric Reid also looked good. He ran well and looked comfortable doing what was asked of him. His athleticism is amazing for a guy his size. He ran a 4.53, had a 40.5′ vertical and a broad jump of 11′. TJ McDonald from USC is a player that still looked stiff running some of the drills but will have scouts re-evaluate him due to his size and athleticism. I still would not draft him higher than the fifth round, but players built like him are not everywhere. Can he prove to teams that he can cover and be quick enough to come over the top to make plays? I knew what Kenny Vaccaro could do in the drills, but the most inspiring and impressive thing to see was when he appeared to roll his ankle during a drill and limped back in line. He didn’t even look in the direction of the medical staff but ingored the pain and kept on working. As the workouts contnued, you couldn’t tell it was a problem.
I wished all players could hear how Peter Giunta, the Giants Corner backs coach, ended the workouts for the Defensive Backs. He talked about making decisions with the person that you most love and respect right there by your side. If you can imagine them with you when you are faced with these questions of moral fiber it will help your decision making. If you can still make that decision, chances are you are doing the right thing. This was a direct quote from him: “With the Choices you make, comes consequences.” All of these players have hopes of being the greatest players in the league, but if they take his words to heart, they will become better men. In the age where you hear more news about certain players in the off-season than what they do on the field in the regular season. each player needs to question the type of man he wants to be and how he wants to be represented. To all participants at the combine and future prospects all over- Good Luck!