Archive for the ‘Combine Recap’ Category

Winners

  • Knile Davis of Arkansas opened some eyes with his combine performance

    Knile Davis of Arkansas opened some eyes with his combine performance

    Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas – Davis has had a rough last two years, after missing all of the 2011 season with an ankle injury, he followed it up with a poor showing in 2012. Teams should realize though that Davis was sensational in 2010 before his injury and a lot of his problems in 2012 were not his fault but the fault of the entire Razorbacks team, a team that had hopes of winning the SEC before giving up after about 3 weeks. Davis had a phenomenal combine performance and showed scouts that they should probably dust off that tape from 2010.

  • Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU – Mathieu started off his combine well with a great press conference with the media. He followed that up by having a pitiful performance in the bench press with just 4 reps, calling his work ethic into question. But when he got on the field he showed why he was the best defensive player in the nation in 2011.
  • Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia – Austin’s stock was already on the rise prior to the combine but he really showed some elite skill in Indy. He had one of the fastest 40 times of the 4 days at any position, and showed some great pass catching ability. He even showed improvement with his route running, which for me, makes him a first round pick and a potential game-changer.

Losers

  • Manti Te'o of Notre Dame did little to help his draft stock in Indy

    Manti Te’o of Notre Dame did little to help his draft stock in Indy

    Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame – Personally, I think Te’o is going to be a fine player in the NFL. People are going to harp on him because of his slow 40 time but I don’t think it is that big of a deal. Players even at his position have run times slower than him and gone on to have good careers (Brandon Spikes comes to mind who ran a 5.0). Te’o also showed in his press conference that maturity really shouldn’t be a concern with him. When it comes down to it though, I just get the feeling NFL teams are not going to like what they saw out of him on the field and he may slip into the second round because of it.

  • Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – Obviously this doesn’t have to do with any kind of performance issue since he was unable to work out at the combine. However, the issue that arose as of a result of a combine examination could spell bad news for Lotulelei’s draft stock. On the other hand it could be great news for a team who would never have had the chance to draft him, as he could slip to the middle of the first because of this heart problem. Lotulelei is a special player and it is going to be a shame to see him fall out of the top-10 where he rightfully belongs. (I could also put Sharrif Floyd into the “winners” category because of this)
Alabama CB runs the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis

Alabama CB Dee Milliner runs the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis

The annual NFL scouting combine came to a close Tuesday as the nation’s top defensive backs took to the field in Indianapolis to show off their talents in front of the league’s talent evaluators. There were few surprises on the last day as the top prospects showed the world why they are the best and those fighting to gain some notoriety did little if anything to help their draft stock.

Starting with the top, Dee Milliner was and still is the best DB in this year’s class; it’s really not even close. I did a profile of Milliner last week and fell in love with the guy from what I saw on film. He solidified himself as a probable top-5 pick with his performance today on the field.

Milliner started off the day right with a very impressive showing in the 40-yard dash. He officially clocked in at 4.37 seconds, just .01 seconds slower than the fastest defensive back of the day, Darius Slay of Mississippi State. Where Milliner really shined though was in drills. He showed great hands, fluid hip movement, and great ability to change speed and direction. If he doesn’t go in the top-5 in April I’d be shocked and disappointed in the NFL’s scouts. I think the Lions right at that 5th pick makes a lot of sense for both parties.

The other story of the day came from former LSU Tiger Tyrann Mathieu, the player formally known as “The Honey Badger”. After managing a pathetic 4 reps in the bench press on Monday, Mathieu needed to do a lot to prove himself in the defensive back drills, and he did just that. He ran a solid time in the 40, officially clocking in at 4.5 seconds. But, like Milliner, where Mathieu really brought it was in the drill portion of the day. He showed good quickness and hands in the drills along with good movement in his hips, something I thought he needed to work on when I watched him on film. With his performance in Lucas Oil, Mathieu might have solidified himself as a third round draft choice. He showed good speed and quickness, so at the very least he has some good value as a kick returner. And all Mathieu needs to do is make a roster so he can begin to prove to the world he can make plays in the NFL like he did while at LSU.

Tyrann Mathieu participates in a defensive back drill at the NFL combine

Tyrann Mathieu participates in a defensive back drill at the NFL combine

A couple of other names that stood out today were Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant. Considering his size, Rhodes ran a pretty impressive 40 time at 4.43 seconds. I didn’t realize that Rhodes brought that combination of both physicality and speed to the table, and NFL teams are really going to like that. Trufant on the other hand probably solidified himself as, at worst, the third corner in the class with his performance today. He ran an official 40 time of 4.38, one of the top marks of the day, and had some good times in the shuttles. Trufant, like Rhodes, is slightly bigger than your average corner and should be a very intriguing prospect for teams looking to add someone to their secondary.

One player who fell slightly short of expectations was Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. In what is generally considered a very deep safety class, Vaccaro has been the consensus #1 at the position. He fell short of that label in Indy, running a pedestrian 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He redeemed himself somewhat in the 3-cone drill, and looked decent in the defensive back drills. Vaccaro probably didn’t hurt his draft stock much, if at all, with his combine performance, but he needs to pick it up at his pro day if he wants to remain the top safety in this year’s class.

One of the lesser-known names who showed up in Indy was cornerback Steve Williams out of the University of California – Berkeley. Williams didn’t make any all-conference teams this season, but he did garner a lot of praise from coaches in the Pac-12. He showed that at least some of that praise was deserved at the combine, running a good 40 at 4.42 seconds, having one of the best vertical leaps at 40.5 inches, and looking solid in the defensive back drills. Williams could be a very good pickup later in the draft for a team looking to add someone with a lot potential in the defensive backfield to their roster.

The annual NFL scouting combine is a very good resource for NFL talent evaluators, but it is far from their only resource. There is still plenty to be learned about these and the rest of the player available in this year’s class. Pro days, individual meetings and workouts, and more are still to come for these players..

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By Jeff Vinton, blogger/editor On the Clock

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, above, had a horrible showing at the NFL Combine Monday that include a 4.82 second 40-yard dash, .17 seconds more than his pre-Combine time.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, above, had a horrible showing at the NFL Combine Monday that include a 4.82 second 40-yard dash, .17 seconds more than his pre-Combine time. Source: BleacherReport.com

The third day of the combine kicked off with linebackers and defensive linemen going through drills at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and all eyes focused mainly on one player. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

By now everyone knows Te’o’s story. Heisman trophy candidate (finished 2nd), winner of the Maxwell, Walter Camp, Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Butkus awards, had to play the Michigan State game the week when his “girlfriend” (who later turned out to be fake, made up by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo as part of a “catfish” scam) and grandmother died within hours of each other. He was on top of the college football world. Notre Dame was undefeated, #1 in the nation for the first time since 1993, and then, January hit.

Alabama throttled Notre Dame in the National Championship game 42-14. Deadspin.com published the story about the catfish scam. Te’o began to drop down draft boards, and his life began to unravel.

What happened today is not going to help his cause. Today, Te’o posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.82 seconds. That is .17 seconds slower than his CBSSports.com Draft Profile had recorded for him on Sunday. And when one is in the middle of a field trying to catch a running back or keep up with a wide receiver, that .17 seconds can be an eternity.

Thanks to what Te’o is referring to as “the incident,” he was already a fringe first round pick, down from a top 10 selection in December. Now that he has posted that 40 time, it is unlikely that he will even be selected in the first round. John Harbaugh, coach of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, the team best suited to draft Te’o (and the team I chose as my pick to draft him in my preview Saturday) at the beginning of the day due to the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, looked disappointed and disinterested in Te’o during coverage of the combine on NFL.com.

After today’s performance, it is likely that some of the lesser known linebackers will have a golden opportunity to jump up and take Te’o’s position in the first round. Te’o may drop to the second half of the second round, and maybe even the third round if he cannot improve on today’s performance at Notre Dame’s pro day on March 26.

Outside of Te’o’s debacle, there were great performances put on today. Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden put in the top 40 time for the day with a time of 4.47 seconds. The top defensive lineman in the 40 was Trevardo Williams of Connecticut with a time of 4.57. Top draft pick Barkevious Mingo of LSU put up a time of 4.58 and Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah ran a time of 4.63.

Three defensive linemen led the pack in the bench press with Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern State and Margus Hunt of SMU benching 225 pounds 38 times and Akeem Spence of Illinois benching it 37 times. Bjoern Werner (whose preview can be found in the Florida State, Linebacker, or Player Preview categories) benched 25 times and Ansah benched 21 times.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (right) was not impressed with the showing of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, running the 40-yard dash (left) at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Monday. Source: thebiglead.com

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (right) was not impressed with the showing of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, running the 40-yard dash (left) at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Monday.
Source: thebiglead.com

Conversely, three linebackers had the highest verticals today. Jamie Collins of Southern Miss jumped 41.5 inches, while Cornelius Washington of Georgia jumped 39 inches and Sio Moore of UConn jumped 38 inches. Mingo jumped 37 inches in the air and Te’o jumped 33.

A mix of linemen and linebackers led the group in the broad jump. Collins leaped 139 inches (11’ 7”), which was a Combine record, Gooden leaped 131 inches (10’ 11”), South Carolina defensive lineman Devin Taylor, Washington and Mingo all flew 128 inches (10’ 8”). Ansah and Florida linebacker Jon Bostic leaped 118 inches (9’ 10”).

Another story coming in to the day was that Utah defensive lineman and potential top five draft pick Star Loutlelei was pulled out of participating in drills due to a heart condition. That condition has yet to be specified and coverage on that and all other things NFL Draft will continue through April 27 on On the Clock: Your NFL Draft Destination.

Tomorrow, the defensive backs will take the field in Indianapolis for drills to close out the combine. On the Clock’s Bill Slane will have the coverage.

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West Virginia’s Tavon Austin during a drill at the NFL Combine

Coming in to day 2 of the NFL combine in Indianapolis, the biggest storyline was probably how Tavon Austin was going to perform on the field. Austin has been getting a lot of press over the past few weeks and it was going to be critical for him to live up to the hype. Austin may not have been the fastest wide receiver today, but he was certainly impressive in drills.

After Austin and Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin ran their 40-yard dash, they both had an unofficial time of 4.25 seconds. Later, when the official times were squared away, Goodwin came away the decisive victor with a time of 4.27. Whoever timed Austin must have had a heavy trigger finger and his official time came in at 4.34. Along with Austin and Goodwin, Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope, Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills, and TCU’s Josh Boyce all ran under 4.4 seconds in the wide receiver group.

Austin was technically not a top performer in any other drill today, other than the 3-cone drill, but when you consider his height of just about 5’8” in cleats, Austin had a very good day. Austin had a 32-inch vertical jump and 120-inch broad jump, both more than solid marks considering his stature. He also looked very good catching the football this morning. Austin was probably already a lock to be a first round pick, but he certainly helped his draft stock even more with his performance in Indy.

Before moving on, I should mention Michigan QB Denard Robinson worked with the wide receivers today and looked pretty good doing it. He ran a good 40 time of 4.43 seconds and looked decent in drills. It will be very interesting to see if NFL teams think he has the ability to make the transition to wide receiver at the next level.

After the receivers, the quarterbacks took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for their on-field drills. The number one QB on most boards is Geno Smith from West Virginia, and he did nothing to hurt himself today, which is all you can ask from him. He ran a great 40 at 4.59 seconds (best in the group) and had a very good broad jump at 10’4” (also best in the group). Smith also had a 33.5” vertical jump, just a half inch behind Florida State QB EJ Manuel who recorded a 34” vertical. Smith also looked pretty good throwing the ball so he should certainly still be the top guy in this mediocre group of QBs.

As I’m writing this, the running backs are just finishing up their drills for the day and the story of in that group, again, was the speedsters. The winner of the day was Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb who had an unofficial time of 4.21 seconds in his second attempt of the 40-yard dash. If that mark would have stood, it would have broken the record set by Chris Johnson in 2008. However, that time was just a tad off as the official time came in at 4.34, which was still the best time of the day. McCalebb obviously has some world-class speed, but he is an extremely small guy with a sprinter’s frame. McCalebb could find a spot on a team as a return specialist but unless he bulks up (a lot) he will be destroyed in the NFL as a running back.

Onterio McCalebb from Auburn wowed the scouts in Lucas Oil with his blazing speed

Other running backs that opened my eyes were Arkansas back Knile Davis and Johnathan Franklin from UCLA. Davis held the lead in the 40 for a long time with an official time of 4.37 before McCalebb’s second attempt. What you have to realize about Davis is that he had a phenomenal season in 2010 with over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Davis then missed the entire 2011 season. What you shouldn’t do is blame him for having a poor 2012 for the razorbacks, that team gave up after week 3. After the day he had today, scouts are going to have to take another look at him, and he might just shoot up a lot of draft boards.

On the other hand, Johnathan Franklin might be the most interesting prospect at the running back position. UCLA head coach Jim Mora had some very high praise for Franklin today and Franklin showed some good ability today in drills. After today’s performance, I know that I’m going to go and take another, closer look at Franklin on film.

The day that quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs take the field is always a marquee day at the combine. There were plenty of storylines in Indy today and some great performances with some world-class speed and agility being showcased at all positions. There were some players that helped their draft stock immensely, and a lot that probably stayed at the status quo.

Check us out tomorrow as defensive lineman and linebackers take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

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By Jeff Vinton, Blogger/Editor, On the Clock

Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff gets into his stance before running a NFL Scouting Combine offensive lineman record 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash this morning.

Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff gets into his stance before running a NFL Scouting Combine offensive lineman record 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash this morning. (Picture courtesy of atlantafalcons.com)

The NFL Scouting Combine began today with groups one through three, which consisted of offensive linemen, tight ends, and special teams players, taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The primary story to come from the performances today was that of 305-pound Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead in the 40-yard dash. Armstead, the second lineman to run the 40 this morning, ran a blistering time of 4.71 seconds. To put that time into perspective, last year’s top performer for offensive linemen in the 40 (Donald Stephenson, Oklahoma) ran a 4.94, the average time for offensive lineman today was a 5.23 and top prospect Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M ran a 5.30. Armstead’s time is the new record for offensive lineman at the Combine.

Armstead had already begun to shoot up draft boards because of his performance at the East-West Shrine Game last month. His 40 time, along with his 31 reps in the bench press, vertical jump of 34.5 inches and his broad jump of 112 inches will no doubt help make him rise up draft boards even more.

Other top performers on the day were Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, the consensus top two tight ends in this year’s draft class.

There has been much coverage by the media over these two, who are battling to become the top tight end taken in the Draft on April 25. And battle they did today, as they interchanged spots in the top performers group through the various drills. Eifert bested Ertz in the 40-yard dash with times of 4.68 seconds and 4.76 seconds respectively. Ertz toppled Eifert in the bench press test by two reps, 24-22. Eifert came back and beat Ertz by five inches in the vertical jump, 35.5-30.5. That trend continued in the broad jump as Eifert out leaped Ertz 119 inches-111 inches. Analysts from NFL Network said that Ertz looked more natural catching the ball, so the battle lives on.

A story from off the field was also a large story during the first day of the Combine.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o took to the podium at 2:15 p.m. EST, his first press conference since the Lennay Kekua incident and his first public appearance since his interview with Katie Couric. Te’o, whose press conference was called “a zoo” in a tweet by Miami Dolphins beat writer Ben Volin, was asked both questions about the incident and general football questions.

When asked if NFL teams had talked about the incident with him, Te’o said, “They all talked to me about it.”

Te’o also made it clear that he is done talking about the incident, first reported in January by Deadspin.com, and that he is moving on and focusing on football.

The NFL Scouting Combine consists of 11 groups each holding certain positions that take the field for drills over the course of four days. Group one has kickers, special teamers, and some offensive linemen. Group two is all offensive linemen, and group three is the tight ends. Groups four and five consist of quarterbacks and wide receivers, and the running backs are in group six. Groups seven and eight consist of defensive linemen and group nine has the linebackers. Groups 10 and 11 hold the defensive backs.

Tomorrow is the skill position day with groups four, five and six taking the field to participate in the various drills and impress NFL Scouts. Drills will begin at 9 a.m.

Coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine will continue through Tuesday, along with daily player previews on On the Clock: Your NFL Draft Destination.