"Ah, I like that.  I like Tulip.  Tulip is much better than Mongoloid."  Fabienne

2015 Combine Delight

 

2012 Combine Update    

Day Three: Defensive Linemen and Linebackers

Defensive Line:

Dontari Poe was so impressive that he may be drafted in the top ten.  He moved like a small defensive tackle at 345 pounds.  Every team that plays a 3-4 will be salivating.  Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Clemson's Brandon Thompson looked like nice gap penetrators, but we favor Reyes more than most pundits.  Michael Brockers will get drafted too high.  A 5.30 forty doesn't equal pass rushing success and tall interior run stuffers generally aren't first round talents unless they are nose guards, and he isn't.  Fletcher Cox was extremely impressive, particularly in drills where he sometimes looked like a linebacker in spite of going 295 pounds.  He resembles Warren Sapp and produced on the field too.  He should go in the top 25 but could even crack the top 15 if a team falls in love with him.  

We initially thought the defensive end class was going to be sub-par but we are in the process of re-thinking that.  Quinton Coples was good but not great in the drills.  Whitney Mercilus looked fantastic and combine that with great film from last year and he could sneak into the top 15.  Nick Perry, Cam Johnson and Andre Branch all showed nice athletic ability but will need some work to succeed as every down players at the next level.  Jamie Blatnick from Oklahoma State had a very good final season and held his own when compared with higher rated talent.  He could be a nice value pick if he slides into the 4th or 5th round.  Melvin Ingram worked out as a defensive end and was by far the most athletic player besides Bruce Irvin, who will be a linebacker in the pros.  Ingram should be the second defensive player drafted as his versatility will be coveted by every defensive coordinator.  He could be the next James Harrison.

 

Luke Kuechly was clearly the most impressive linebacker and should be taken in the top 20.  Our only concern with him is that looked fairly slight compared with the other linebackers.  Can he hold up making 150 tackles against NFL running backs?  Donta Hightower was impressive for a 270 pounder, but Courtney Upshaw looked too slow and tight hipped to play linebacker.  He's probably going to be converted to a defensive end which limits his value, especially when compared with Melvin Ingram.  Zach Brown blazed in the forty but we've seen enough tape to think he's better in shorts than in pads.  In the right system where he is protected and allowed to roam he will be good, but we don't see greatness.  We already had Arkansas State's Demario Davis ranked significantly higher than most and after the Combine we can't find an outside linebacker that we like any better than him.  That's right, you heard it here first.  He's fast, strong and looks great in the drills.  He'll need to be coached up coming from a small school, but his ceiling is very high.  Tank Carder appears to be the athlete we saw in 2010 and he could be a nice value pick after the 2nd round.  Pac-12 player of the year Mychal Kendricks ran the fastest forty for a linebacker in the last decade.  He also looked great in the drills.  His only negative, and it's an important one, is that he's only 5'10".  Vontaze Burfict sent his draft stock heading toward a Great Depression with terrible interviews and a defensive tackle-like 5.05 forty.

 

Day Two:  Wide Receivers, Quarterbacks and Running Backs

 

Wide Receivers: 

There was a large group of wide receivers between the second and third round and the Combine can help distinguish them.  We will be adjusting a number of spots on our mock draft.  Mohammed Sanu looked very solid but doesn't have the explosion you want to see from a top twenty pick.  He's a big, heady player who we still have rated as a late first, early second rounder.  Alshon Jeffery didn't participate and needed a great showing to hold onto his spot in the first round.  He's got loads of talent but we wouldn't take him in the first round after he showed up at the most important day of his career and wasn't ready to go. Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech has taken Jeffery's first round spot and might have a chance to go as far as the 2nd reciever taken.  The last two Georgia Tech receivers (Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson) have been great and Hill averaged a silly 29 yards per reception and posted a 4.36 in the forty.  We can't see him escaping the first round.  Marvin Jones from Cal was solid and we like him as a 2nd/3rd rounder who can come in and play as a #3 receiver.  Kendall Wright was supposed to burn up the track but he looked a bit out of shape and ran a pedestrian 40 yard dash.  He might have taken himself out of top 15 consideration.  Tommy Streeter from Miami didn't disappoint in the 40 running a 4.40 at 6'5", but he was so bad in the drills he's barely draftable.  A.J. Jenkins from Illinois was fast and good in the drills and probably worked himself into second day consideration.  Justin Blackmon didn't run the 40 and much like his career looked a little inconsistent in drills making some great plays and dropping some routine catches.  Michael Floyd was fast and looked as good as any player in the drills.  Reuben Randle performed exactly as we expected.  He was good at everything but not great at anything.  He's a late second rounder who teams hope will develop into a #2 receiver.

Quarterback: 

There isn't much to see at the Combine, but Andrew Luck proved to be a great athlete (his numbers on par with Cam Newton) while RG3 outran most of the wide recievers with a 4.41 forty.  We still think Russell Wilson is the most underrated quarterback in the draft.  If he was 6'2" instead of 5'10" he'd be a top ten pick.  He's going to be an NFL starter once he gets his chance.

Running Backs:

Again, there isn't much to scout at the Combine with running backs.  We mainly want to see 40 times consistent with film.  David Wilson and Lamar Miller were very fast as expected and Doug Martin was great in the weight room and adequate in his 40 (4.47) and is probably the #2 back behind Trent Richardson.


 

DAY ONE:  OFFENSIVE LINEMAN AND TIGHT ENDS

 

Day one confirmed what we thought about a number of players and added a few players to the radar.  On the offensive line we weren't overly impressed with Riley Reiff.  He will be a starter but not a star.  Keleche Osemele, who we like better than every other draft pundit, is better than Reiff as a right tackle and better than David Decastro as a guard.  He posseses strength, athletic ability and a mean streak that Reiff and Decastro don't have.  Decastro was underwhelming in his measureables confirming what we saw on tape.  He's a starter too, but not a star.  We would take Kevin Zeitler who is at least Decastro's equal and you can get almost a round later.  Mayock couldn't stop talking about Decastro, though it was mostly making excuses for him not testing well.  Decastro was good in the drills, however.  For the later rounds we like what we saw from James Brown of Troy and Jeff Allen of Illinois who could sneak into the third round.  Tom Compton from South Dakota looked very athletic and was good enough in drills that he could draw a fourth round pick as developmental project. Center/guard Phillip Blake from Baylor looks like a future starter.  Cordy Glenn is huge and got everyone worked up when he ran a top ten forty, however he was not very good in the mirror drill and looked awkward sliding laterally, which is a key movement for a lineman.  As big and athletic as he is, he should have been dominant at Georgia and he was good but not great.  He reminds of another offensive line mountain from Georgia, Max Jean-Gillis who never delivered on his physical promise.  We also liked the little we saw from Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu.

The tight end class is very weak.  Mayock's number one rated tight end Orson Charles is a joke.  He looks the best in shorts, but he is tight legged, short and has terrible hands and instincts.  We will drop him to 6th or 7th in our tight end rankings and wouldn't draft him before the 4th round.  Michael Egnew and Dwayne Allen looked like the top two picks, but the best route runner and hands at the Combine was Northwestern's Drake Dunsmore.  He could be a Dallas Clark type and reminds us of the Ravens Dennis Pitta.  We expect him to rise up draft boards and possibly go as early as the third round. LSU's Deangelo Peterson is a great athlete but like Charles he's not a natural receiver.

 

 

2011 Combine

 

Day Four:

The guy we were the most interested in watching didn't fail to impress.  Mark LeGree, a safety from Appalachian State was great and confirmed that what we saw in his tape was no fluke.  He could realistically be the best safety after Rahim Moore though 5-10 safeties may be drafted before him.  Patrick Peterson was fantastic as expected and Prince Amukamara was good but not great in the drills as we have maintained from the start.  The most impressive player in the drills was not Peterson or Amukamara, it was Curtis Brown from Texas.  He wasn't the fastest player but his ability to change direction was off the chart.  We've moved him back into the second round.  Shiloh Keo was the star of the NFL Network broadcast, earning rave reviews from Prime Time and Mike Mayock for his hustle and quick feet.  It was not a good week for Jimmy Smith from Colorado.  Smith apparently came across as cocky and although he ran a nice forty, his footwork in the drills was less than inspiring making us wonder if he's not a candidate for a conversion to safety.  He will take a tumble towards the bottom of the first round in our mock draft as we can't imagine GM's didn't see what we saw.  Ras-I Dowling showed why teams love him and why teams hate him in the span of 4.4 seconds flat.  He ran a 4.4 forty but pulled up lame with a hamstring injury.  He has a long history of injuries so this has to be a concern.  He could go anywhere from the 2nd to the 4th round.

Day Three:

This is the best defensive lineman class ever.  Frankly, we see twenty potential first round picks.  We, as usual, differ significantly on our evaluation and guarantee that we will be correct more often than Mike Mayock.  Warren Sapp said exactly what we have said about JJ Watt.  He is a solid base end in the 3-4 defense.  So what.  They make a few tackles and have 5-6 sacks.  They're not difference makers and should be taken in the second and third rounds with the centers, guards and middle linebackers.  Allen Bailey and Cameron Jordan are in that same mold and should not be first round picks, though at least one of them probably will. Marcel Dareus and Nick Fairley are both worthy of top 5 picks, though we like Fairley's disruptive potential better.  Marvin Austin, as we said over a month ago, will shoot up draft boards.  He's like Fairley in terms of explosion, but he's even bigger.  Phil Taylor is a monster who could move into the first round based on the premium 3-4 teams place on the nose tackle position.  If you need any proof, the Dolphins franchised Paul Soliai who has started all of one year.  He'll make 12 million dollars in 2011.  Muhammed Wilkerson from Temple was 320 pounds and moved like a linebacker.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him go in the top 15.  Drake Nevis and Corey Liuget have first round talent, but may get lost in the maze of incredible athletes.  Kenrick Ellis from Hampton moved well for a 330 pounder and Stephen Paea posted the combine record of 49 pushes of 225.  At 310 and an All-American to boot he's got to be a first rounder too, right?  We also like Terrell Mclain from South Florida as a later round sleeper.

The most overrated player in the draft resides at defensive end, though there is talent to burn there too.  Robert Quinn will be a one trick pony.  Now that one trick, pass rushing, is very important but he doesn't look like an every down player.  I can already hear Big Ben making his play call, "Whatever side Quinn lines up on, run to that side.  Break." Justin Houston has more potential and at 270 will have no problem standing up against the run.  Ryan Kerrigan is light years better in every aspect, including rushing the passer.  If he goes outside of the top 15 he will be one of the steals of the draft.  His tape is great and he tested great.  He rushes the passer as well as Von Miller and is much better against the run.  Brooks Reed of Arizona and Sam Acho from Texas look like nice value picks in the second or third round.

The linebacker class is average at best.  Von Miller, if you consider him a linebacker, will be a great pass rusher and disruptive force.  Martez Wilson is great in shorts but doesn't have the production to back it up.  Quan Sturdivant's best asset is his cool name.  He's highly overrated and really shouldn't be drafted in the first three rounds, but probably will.  We like Nick Bellore out of Central Michigan and Bruce Miller from Central Florida as mid-round picks who could be productive players in the right system.  Colin McCarthy and Mason Foster could do the same. Greg Lloyd, son of Greg Lloyd, is a nice sleeper.  He was a rising star at Connecticut before injuries sidetracked him. Dontay Moch from Nevada is one of the best athletes in the draft (4.4 forty and 42 inch vertical) and we suspect it will be hard for teams later in the first round to pass on his pass rush ability.  He'll need a bit of coaching, but there's plenty to work with. 

 

Day Two:

Wide Receivers:

Julio Jones was the top prospect coming out of high school, and he tore up the Combine.  So why did he only have 15 touchdowns in three years playing for (arguably) the best program in the country with a great running game and a good college quarterback?  We think he will always test better than he will play.  He disappeared in games at times.  Jon Baldwin will be a better pro if he keeps his head on straight, which is a big if, but Jones will be drafted ahead of Baldwin.  We expect Julio to go in the 10-14 range and wouldn't be surprised to see the Patriots move up from 17 to get him. He should be a good pro, but he won't be special.  Ricardo Lockette from Fort Valley and Edmond Gates from Abilene Christian ran the fastest forty times and should now both be drafted in the middle rounds.  Austin Pettis from Boise State and Greg Salas from Hawaii were the best possession receivers of the bunch as they displayed great hands and route running ability.  We still like Leonard Hankerson better than Titus Young, who jogged through some drills, and Torrey Smith, who is a very average receiver with great speed.  Darvin Adams from Auburn was horrible.  He is skinny and not particularly fast.  Deandre Brown from Southern Miss doesn't appear to be completely back from his leg injuries, but we still like him as a 2-3 year project in the third or fourth round.

Quarterbacks:

The quarterbacks with issues did nothing to change the negative perceptions about them.  The real winner among the top picks may have been Blaine Gabbert because he did nothing.  Cam Newton had accuracy issues in the drills and he somehow appeared lost in his press conference, pulling out a prepared speech and stammering and babbling through questions that he should have been well schooled to answer.  He threw the deep ball as well as any of the quarterbacks though, and his measureables were riduiculously good as expected.  We think he's the best player in the draft, but even The Matriculator is starting to wonder whether he can handle the pressure of not only learning an offense and being the face of a franchise, but dealing with all of the hangers on that have attached themselves like so many leeches.  Ryan Mallett is one of the best pocket passers to come out of college in the past 20 years; however, he still doesn't seem to be the type that will make good decisions late in games and the drug spectre hangs over him like Pig Pen's black cloud.  Jake Locker was okay on his short to intermediate passes but he can't throw the deep ball at all. The most impressive passer besides Mallett was Josh Portis from California (PA).  He made all the throws with aplomb and at 6'4" with good athletic ability should be a great developmental quarterback.  Like Cam Newton, he was a transfer from Florida.  Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder were solid and should still be in the consideration in the 2-3 rounds.

 Running Backs:

We said Mark Ingram needed to run the forty in around 4.55, and he did registering only slightly slower.  He was fantastic in his drills and could be one of the few every down backs in the NFL if he goes to the right team.  Mikel Leshoure was a little slower than expected but otherwise was solid.  He is still a borderline first rounder.  None of the running backs did anything positive or negative to impact their draft stock.  Running backs are what they are and you can watch lots of tape and check their productivity without having to watch many drills. We still like Delone Carter, and Ryan Williams flashed in the drills.  We were hoping to see Noel Devine from West Virginia run but he's still nursing an injury.  The same holds true for Daniel Thomas from Kansas State whom we really like on tape.  He couldn't work out as he is nursing a hamstring injury.

 

Day One Musings:

Tackles:

Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, and Nate Solder all looked good in all aspects of the drills today.  We still think Carimi will be the best because though he may not be quite as good as a pass blocker, he's markedly better as a run blocker.  On tape he regularly moved potential first round picks Adrian Clayborn and Cameron Heyward off the ball.  Tyron Smith chickened out as most USC players do.  We watched the tape of him again and stand by our earlier article where we indicated he will be a bust.  Derek Sherrod is better but will drafted behind Smith.  Any of Smith, Solder, Carimi and Castonzo could be the first tackle off the board.  Demarcus Love looked uninspiring as he did in the Senior Bowl and he could continue to fall.  Marcus Gilbert from Florida was very good and has the pedigree.  He may have moved up a round.

Centers:

At center Ryan Bartholomew may have moved ahead of Stefen Wisniewski who looked slow and short armed while Bartholomew showed elite athletic ability, running the second fastest forty and benching more than any other lineman.  Wisniewski should be a good, long-term player but he won't be special. Brandon Fusco will not only be the first player ever drafted from Slippery Rock, he may go as high as the second round.  We were very impressed with his footwork and base.  We have him as the second rated center in the draft.

Guard:

Rodney Hudson looked phenomenal and we have said from day one that he was the one of the top ten prospects in the entire draft and he should be the first interior lineman to be drafted, but he probably won't.  Orlando Franklin moved well but looked thin below the waist, which isn't good when he needs to anchor.  Marcus Cannon was huge and solid in the positional drills.  Mayock has Clint Boling as his number two guard which is a joke.  His tape didn't look good and he was pedestrian in his drills.  The GM who drafts Boling or Watkins ahead of Rodney Hudson should be fired on the spot.  Danny Watkins from Baylor plays mean and has a great base, but may struggle at times in pass protection.  We still like him as a 2nd-3rd rounder who can step in immediately.

Tight End:

Virgil Green from Nevada had a massive vertical at 42.5, ran a good forty and had huge 10'10" broad jump.  He was a little stiff in the positional drills but should have solidified his standing as a 3rd to 4th round developmental prospect.  As we expected, DJ Williams looked better than Lance Kendricks and Luke Stocker.  Williams should be the second tight end off the board and we will move him up in our mock draft.  Rob Housler from Florida International was very good in all aspects of the Combine and may have moved into the third round consideration.  Lance Reisner from Iowa will make a good second tight end.  The best player who I'd never seen was a former basketball player Julius Thomas from Portland State.  With the right coaching he could be a star.  He's got long arms, and big, strong hands.