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Combine Delight

                The best thing from the first three days of the Combine was Mike Mayock doing Rapper’s Delight as the defensive ends ran their forty.  He just wouldn’t stop and it seemed as if Rich Eisen wanted to crawl under a rock as Mayock continued his Wonder Mike meanderings.  As always the Combine mostly confirmed what we thought but we’ve gone back and cross checked a number of players after what we saw. 

                The offensive line class is much better up the middle than it is on the outside.  Erick Flowers proved to be one of the most athletic players in spite of his massive frame.  We went back and watched tape on him and Brandon Scherff and Flowers is the only offensive lineman who will likely crack our top ten.  Scherff is a Zack Martin clone.  He should be a great guard which puts him in the 15-25 range, not the top ten.  Andrus Peat, are you kidding me?  Every year at the Combine is Groundhog Day.  Fill in the blank, an offensive lineman from Stanford is the best guard/tackle in the draft.  They said that with Jonathan Martin, David Decastro and David Yankey.  They were all overrated and so is Peat whose belly jiggled around like it was filled with water balloons.  He was gassed half way through the workout and while he has a strong lower body, he will clearly struggle with speed rushers.  He’s not a first round talent but a number of scouts have him rated in the top ten.  The guy who isn’t projected as first round tackle who we like is Rob Havenstein out of Wisconsin.  He’s probably a mid-round talent but some work in the weight room could turn him into a starter.  There are two other high end interior lineman prospects besides Scherff.  We love Laken Tomlinson and when it’s all said and done we may have him slightly ahead of Scherff.  Cameron Erving, after converting from left tackle, should become a Pro-Bowl center.  We like all three as first rounders.  D.J. Williams and T.J. Clemmings are both very athletic but they will need to be in the right system because they lack the arm strength and bulk to be dominant.  They should be better pass protectors against the quick defensive ends but may struggle to slow the power guys. They are developmental types who are good enough to warrant first round consideration, but late first round not top-10 as some are projecting.

                The receiver class isn’t as good as it has been touted by many pundicators.  Kevin White is the only top ten player out of the bunch.  White has the body type, athletic ability (a nice 4.35) and the college production to be a true NFL number one.  He will be in the discussion as our top rated player in the draft.  Amari Cooper is going to be a good NFL receiver, but he’s not ticketed for greatness.  DeVante Parker is what we thought he was, a mid to late first rounder.   There has been a lot of sleeper talk about William & Mary’s Tre McBride and now we know why.  He tested well and looked good in the drills.  He should be in the discussion in the second/third round as a guy who could develop into a number 2.  There are two receivers, Dorial Green-Beckham and Sammy Coates, who have the physical attributes to be in the top ten but shouldn’t be drafted that highly.  Coates has a significant injury history and has had issues with drops.  Green-Beckham is very raw and has some off-field baggage after repeated violations had him kicked off of Missouri’s team.  We’d start to look at both of them in the second round.

              We were highly skeptical of the quarterback class coming into the Combine, but feel much better about it now.  We always thought Jameis Winston was a knucklehead.  He’s not the most well spoken guy, but he’s a leader of men and after watching him break down a play with Steve Mariucci and hear the stories of him being a film junkie we’re much more comfortable with him.  He also shortened his delivery for the Combine and it didn’t affect his velocity or accuracy.  Mariota looked good throwing the ball and we still like him as a top ten pick so long as he goes to a team that will tailor their offense around him.  Bryce Petty confirmed what we’ve thought all along about him.  He’s a first round prospect.  He’s huge at 6”3”, 230, but he’s very agile.  The ball flies off his hand and he was better than Mariota and Winston at the deep outs and posts.  He will have to learn a pro style offense and how to deal with a collapsing pocket but he’s a better prospect than Blake Bortles was a year ago and we wouldn’t hesitate to take him late in the first round.  Cody Fajardo, who followed Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, threw the ball extremely well.  He was asked to run a significant amount at Nevada but he impressed us as someone who could develop into a pro style passer with a year or two of seasoning.

                At running back we still love Duke Johnson.  He reminds us of Emmitt Smith (we’re not saying he’s going to be that good) and we think he’s going to be a workhorse for whichever team takes him. Ameer Abdullah is a similar prospect to Duke Johnson.  He’s extremely quick and while they both lack long speed they should be able to find holes.  Northern Iowa’s David Johnson was also very impressive and has a skill set similar to Matt Forte.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see him sneak into the second round. 

              The tight end class is very thin.  We’d normally have Maxx Williams as a late first, early second rounder but with the lack of talent in the draft we will probably push him up to around 20.  We like Clive Walford but he’s a second rounder.  After that it falls off quickly.  We were impressed with Iowa State’s E.J. Bibbs but there isn’t much else.  Ross Scheuerman from Lafayette tested well and looks like he could be a Swiss Army Knife type who can catch out of the backfield or in the slot and be a core special teams player.  He may not get drafted but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing on Sunday at some point in the next two years.

                The defensive line is where it’s at in this draft.  It’s deep and includes high end players up and down the line.  Danny Shelton is an immovable beast with good quickness for his size and a high end motor.  He’s a player who will be in consideration as our top player in the draft.  Leonard Williams is also in that discussion.  He’s smaller and more athletic than Shelton with a high motor.  Vic Beasley is the third defensive lineman on our radar as the best player in the draft.  He tested off the chart at the Combine (better than Jadeveon Clowney in many respects) and he’s got several years of great tape to back it up.  He’s got superstar potential.  Bud Dupree and Randy Gregory both tested well but we saw the same thing from both of them on tape.  Great games and/or great plays followed by long periods where they disappeared.  Gregory is very slight and easily pushed around.  While Dupree has good size, he struggled to disengage from blocks at times.  Dupree’s upside is immense but he would be a huge risk in the top 15 because he’s still somewhat of a projection.  Preston Smith out of Mississippi State is an underrated prospect who should be in the late first round discussion.  Malcolm Brown out of Texas is a plugger in the middle and he should be drafted in the top 20.  Defensive tackle Frank Clark also caught our eye at the Combine.  He was dismissed from Michigan after a domestic violence incident but he looks the part of a three technique with starter potential. 

                The linebacker class is weak.  Shaq Thompson is the best of the bunch and Benardrick McKinney has the physical tools to be a star but wasn’t consistent enough in college.  Paul Dawson did a face plant with a work-out so bad he could slip several rounds.   When in doubt draft Georgia defensive players.  Georgia has two productive college linebackers in Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrerra.  They will probably be drafted in the mid to late rounds and don’t be surprised to see one of them starting in the next few years.