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Thread: Combine winners and losers

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    Combine winners and losers

    Combine Winners and Losers..... as much is made about workout results at the NFL Scouting Combine, it is not numbers that have the greatest meaning to NFL teams. They already spent most of the fall assessing talent, with most teams having held meetings in the weeks leading up to the Combine to set their draft boards based on football-playing evaluations, which will comprise 90 percent of a player's final grade.

    Combine testing helps break ties and forces evaluators to revisit the tape of performers who stand out, good or bad. What is valued most highly by NFL decision makers are the medical evaluations performed by team doctors and the 15-minute interview sessions with players, which help give a glimpse of player personalities and allow teams to assess any blemishes on their records and figure out if they would like to spend more time courting prospects through the spring workout process.

    With evaluators having had less time to assess a junior class that only became official in mid-January, the evaluation of the underclassmen is especially important, as measurables are verified and character is dissected.

    Following are 10 players who have helped themselves in Indianapolis and 10 who have raised concerns, with the highly scrutinized underclassmen marked by an asterisk. The players are listed alphabetically.

    Ten risers

    OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland*
    The football gods could not sculpt a better-looking physical specimen, and Campbell worked out like a phenom, clocking in the high 4.7s in the 40-yard-dash, producing times better than some receivers and defensive backs at 314 pounds. His 36 1/4-inch arms were a Combine-best for offensive linemen and will allow him to recover much more easily at the next level when he gets out of position, which he unfortunately does too often. The tape of Campbell playing like a first-round talent does not exist, but with impulsive decision makers dotting the first round, Campbell very well cemented his place in Round One with his performance, right or wrong. Whether he will ever live up to that lofty draft status remains to be seen.

    DE-OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU
    A college defensive end who projects to rush linebacker in the pros, Hughes was not asked to drop heavily at TCU, but he looked as smooth and fluid as any defensive lineman when he was passed through LB drills, with very clean footwork and balance that should allow for a wrinkle-free transition. Was clocked at an exceptionally quick 1.53 seconds in the 10-yard dash, showing the type of burst and acceleration that could make him a feared pass rusher in an even or odd front. He very likely solidified a spot in the first round, with much better production and tape than Larry English had a year ago.

    OG John Jerry, Mississippi
    Has gradually cut his weight during the season from 350-plus pounds a year ago to a svelte 328 at the Combine and moved much better than expected, showing good agility and natural bend for a big body. Has excellent bloodlines and may not fit into the first round like his brother, Peria, did last year, with questions still remaining about how well he will be able to adapt to sliding protections in a pro-style offense, but he may have moved into the second round with his performance.

    DT Linval Joseph, East Carolina*
    The early entrant showed exceptional strength when he repped out 225 pounds 39 times, and his strength and overall length, with 34 1/2-inch arms, could make him a commodity for an odd front, with ability to play inside or outside and stack the point. He is still raw on tape and has room to develop, but he is very unlikely to fall out of the top three rounds after the way he performed in Indianapolis.

    RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State*
    In an uninspiring RB class, Mathews stood out as a gem of the Combine, along with Tennessee's Montario Hardesty and Auburn's Ben Tate, clocking in the mid-4.4s in the 40-yard dash at 218 pounds. Despite not having been used much in the passing game at Fresno State, he also caught the ball very well in drills, even showing he could track it over his shoulder. He is the best bell-cow back in the draft and may rise into the first round after performing very well.

    OLB Eric Norwood, South Carolina
    Norwood entered the Combine with questions about where he would play, having appeared less instinctive playing on his feet than when he lined up with his hand on the ground to rush the passer on third downs. However, he moved around very well in drills and despite measuring barely above 6-feet flat, he did have among the longer arms of any linebacker at 33 3/8 inches and should have a very safe landing spot potentially in the second round in an aggressive "30" front such as the Steelers' or Ravens'.

    TE Dennis Pitta, Brigham Young
    For a player not known for his athletic ability, Pitta tested much better than expected, clocking in the low 4.6s in the 40-yard dash and pacing all tight ends in each of the three shuttle drills, demonstrating the impressive agility that allows him to separate with quickness on the field. But even more impressively, when it came to drill work, he caught everything, appeared smooth adjusting to the ball and made the game look very easy with how seamlessly he caught it in stride. He may have solidified a place in the second round after how well he showed in Indianapolis.

    OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana
    Despite starting at left tackle the last four years, Saffold has been projected to guard by many NFL teams because of concerns about his overall length. However, after appearing very fluid in drills and measuring out longer than expected, at 6-4 5/8 with 33 5/8-inch arms, more than an inch longer than they registered in the spring of 2009, there is a good chance he could stick at left tackle, and there has been discussion of considering him in the bottom of the first round. Medical results regarding back pain he has played through could still have an effect.

    QB Tim Tebow, Florida
    Tebow did not throw at the Combine, but he did take the time to thoroughly explain his enhanced mechanics on camera, worked out extremely well for a quarterback and commanded the room during interview sessions. Whether he can effectively overhaul his pitcher-like, long delivery remains a big question that has left the vast majority of evaluators skeptical, but he left no questions about his intelligence, determination or intangibles, carrying himself like a pro's pro. And some evaluators were quietly enthused about his potential as an H-back after he leaped 38½ inches, clocking in the low 4.7s in the 40-yard dash and producing a blistering 6.66-second three-cone time.

    FS Earl Thomas, Texas*
    After playing late in the season considerably lighter than he weighed in at the Combine, evaluators were left to wonder whether he was one of the bloated-looking Combine participants who downed a gallon of water before he stepped on the scale, with the old trick known for adding 8-10 pounds of water weight. Regardless of how he put on the weight, the key is that it did not affect his performance in the Combine drills, as he still registered a sub-4.5 time in the 40, looked very agile in drills and showed the ball skills that made him stand out at Texas. Interviewing very well should only further enhance his status.

    --- Added 3/5/2010 at 09:09 AM ---

    Ten sliders

    WR Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas*
    Despite catching the ball well in the gauntlet drills, the long strider registered a rather pedestrian 40-yard dash, clocking in the low-to-mid 4.6s on NFL watches, and bench-pressed 225 pounds only nine times, fewer than all three specialists who worked out, including the 166-pound Trindon Holliday. Briscoe's lack of strength and speed very clearly will reduce him to a possession role and will diminish his value.

    OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers*
    Known to abhor the weight room at Rutgers and rely far too much on his natural ability, Davis showed up at the Combine looking sloppy-bodied and overweight. At 323 pounds, he clocked above 5.4 in the 40 on some watches and managed only 21 reps of 225 pounds, the fewest of any of the top four tackles who grade out the highest in the draft on tape. Known for consistently being late and not being accountable in college, Davis demonstrated his immaturity during interviews.

    DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida*
    Dunlap did not come to Indianapolis appearing ready mentally or physically, looking too stiff, upright and narrow-based as he went through drill work and coming off as extremely immature during the interview process, clearly not knowing what he does not know, as one executive described it. A DWI arrest four days in advance of the SEC championship game and a subsequent suspension have done nothing to convince evaluators that he is ready to shake the career underachiever label that he is expected to carry to the pro level.

    RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech*
    Dwyer cut nearly 20 pounds after playing this season around 250, but the rapid weight loss was noticeable in his Combine appearance. He carried a lot of extra flesh, showing little to no muscle definition, and his speed did not improve, as he barely cracked the 4.6 mark. Having played in a triple-option offense where he was utilized similarly to a traditional fullback, Dwyer had enough questions to answer about how his skills would translate to a pro-style offense. Now he has evaluators left wondering if he might not be best in the pros as an athletic fullback. With former Yellow Jackets coach Chan Gailey having said that Dwyer's weight has fluctuated greatly dating back to high school, executives are only left to wonder what weight he will show up at in a training camp after a big payday. The fourth-round grade some evaluators stamped on him, based on tape evaluations, now does not look far from reality.

    CB Joe Haden, Florida*
    Expected to clock in the 4.3s heading into the Combine with explosive short-area quickness out of his breaks on tape, Haden ran slower than some linebackers in the 40-yard dash, timing above 4.6 on some watches and appearing heavy in his movement. Although he does play faster than he timed, his marginal times will force evaluators to revisit his tape and could quite possibly knock him off the perch as the draft's top corner. Taking false steps out of his transition while making speed turns and not appearing crisp with his footwork in drills did not help his cause, as he appeared very ill-prepared all the way through the event. With a chance to have warranted top-10 consideration had he lived up to the hype, the 40-game starter now has questions to answer and may want to consider finding a more experienced speed coach than his overinvolved father before the Gators' pro day in several weeks.

    S Chad Jones, LSU*
    Having stood out on the diamond as an outfielder at LSU and gone on record saying baseball is his first passion, Jones had some questions to answer during interviews about how he would handle adversity if his football career did not go his way. He did nothing to squash perceptions that he cannot be trusted to maximize his talent, as his interview was described as one of the worst of the allotted 60 that every team is given. Not only did he appear dispassionate in interviews, he clocked in the high 4.5s in the 40 — slower than expected — and repped 225 pounds only nine times at 221 pounds, poor for a safety of his size, regardless of whether baseball has affected his conditioning.

    TE Anthony McCoy, USC
    McCoy registered fairly pedestrian 40-times above 4.8 and followed it up by getting beat up by the ball in the gauntlet drills, where he weaved off the line, showing stiff hips, and slowed to absorb the ball, letting it into his body instead of catching it naturally in his hands. He also struggled to adjust to a catchable ball thrown behind him and lacked concentration, double-catching and bobbling the ball.

    OG Dace Richardson, Iowa
    Richardson appeared very heavy-legged running the 40-yard dash, coming close to clocking a Rich Eisen-esque 6.0-flat, and looked like a wagon was attached to his waist as he went through drills. Posting a marginal 19 reps in the 225-pound bench-press test also showed his lack of physical development and strength.

    OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
    For as well as Weatherspoon worked out on the field and for as much as his "character" is praised within the Missouri program, he has turned off a number of decision makers just as much with his outlandish, look-at-me, loudmouth personality and has been criticized for worrying too much about his image and post-football career aspirations before he has accomplished anything in the National Football League. "He never shuts up," one top executive said. "He was the loudest guy in the room for the bench press. He gives me a headache. I think he is full of (it). It's all about himself. I don't want him in my locker room."

    WR Mike Williams, Syracuse*
    Entering the draft early after having had to sit out the 2008 season due to academics and having quit the Orange squad midway through his junior campaign, Williams came into the Combine with mighty questions to answer. Instead of coming clean with coaches and executives who questioned his motives, he continually talked in circles, refused to own up to his mistakes and was left being compared to Maurice Clarett from a maturity and intelligence standpoint by one GM who suffered through the interview. Producing a Combine WR-worst eight reps in the 225-pound bench-press test, despite being one of the three heaviest receivers at the event, also did nothing to convince executives that he works as hard as he claims or that football is important to him

    I'm A "Champion"

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    Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland. Although we War Room scouts always have had a high grade on Campbell, opinions around the league seemed to vary greatly — from first-rounder to fifth-rounder. After his dominating workout at the Combine, he proved he is a rare athlete and has assured himself of being a first-round pick. He could move into the top 15 if he performs well in his on-campus workout March 10.
    Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pitt. He helped himself more than any other player at the Combine because he had struggled so much at the Senior Bowl. Personnel men didn't know if he was a wide receiver or tight end and if he had the athleticism to create mismatches in the passing game. He erased all doubts in his workout as a guy who can create matchup problems and make big plays. He could be drafted as high as the second round.
    Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson. After a stellar Senior Bowl week, Ford displayed blazing speed and explosiveness in drills Sunday and convinced personnel men he can be a dangerous slot receiver and return man despite his lack of height. He now rates as a third-round prospect who could move into the second.
    Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami (Fla.) . He is tall and well built and has been receiving a lot of hype in postseason because of his background and limited football experience. He struggled at the Senior Bowl, showing a lack of athleticism. He quelled some of those fears Saturday, looking like a good athlete without pads. If able to repeat his Combine performance at Miami's on-campus workout March 26, he could move into the third round or even late second.
    Carlton Mitchell, WR, South Florida. Mitchell, a junior, looked great on film but scouts wanted to see him up close, to see if his timed quickness and explosiveness matched his game play. He did not disappoint. He is big and ran well and looked athletic in drills Sunday. He is unlikely to be drafted in the first round, but if he catches the ball well at his on-campus workout March 30 he should move into the second round.
    Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana. He is having an outstanding spring. He dominated defenders at East-West Shrine Game practices to move into third-round consideration. After showing good athleticism at the Combine, he proved capable of playing left tackle and now is a second-round prospect. He even could get taken at the end of the first round by a tackle-needy team, a la Sam Baker and Duane Brown in '08.
    Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale. He was one of the most athletic offensive linemen in workouts Saturday, rebuilding his draft stock after he failed to impress during Texas vs. The Nation practices. Although he didn't dominate at Hillsdale, he is big and has rare athleticism and thus moved up draft boards at the Combine. He now projects as a third-round prospect, fourth round at worst.


    Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas. He left Indianapolis still needing to prove he has the quickness and athleticism to be as productive in a pro-style offense as he was in Kansas' spread attack. He certainly did not look quick, explosive of fast in Combine drills Sunday and his stock has tumbled into the middle rounds.
    Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU. He had a disappointing senior season and then failed to show quickness and speed Sunday. He showed only adequate explosiveness and speed at the Combine and thus certainly will fall out of the first round.
    Colt McCoy, QB, Texas. Even without throwing, McCoy's draft status fell when he measured in at 6-1 1/8. Personnel men still have major questions about his arm strength, wondering if he can make all the NFL throws. Considering his lack of height, his stock will take a big tumble down draft boards unless he lights up his on-campus workout March 31. Even with a strong pro day performance, it would not be a surprise to see him fall into the third round.
    Preston Parker, WR, North Alabama. Parker was a top prospect as a junior in '08 at Florida State but was forced to transfer. At North Alabama, he was productive and was on his way to winning back the scouts. However, he ran the 40-yard dash Sunday in the high 4.6-second/low 4.7-second range, depending on the scout working the stopwatch. His stock really will tumble now because shorter receivers lacking explosiveness and speed struggle to make it in the NFL.
    Dace Richardson, G, Iowa. Many scouts considered him a "sleeper" before the Combine because his on-field production had been greatly hindered by a number of injuries. After running poorly (high 5.7-second range) and failing to distinguish himself in other drills Saturday, he will not get drafted.

    --- Added 3/5/2010 at 09:12 AM ---


    Pat Angerer, LB, Iowa. Previously considered a stiff and limited athlete, Angerer ran much better than expected and looked quicker and more athletic in drills. He came to the Combine as a late-round possibility but left with a fourth- or fifth-round grade.

    Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia. Personnel men were impressed with him at the Senior Bowl. And after he looked bigger than expected and bench-pressed 225 pounds a surprising 34 times and showed great athleticism in drills Monday, he is a second-round lock who could sneak into the bottom of the first round.

    Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. He already was a top prospect on most every team's draft board, but his display of elite athleticism, body control and coordination likely pushed him into the top five of the draft.

    Thaddeus Gibson, OLB, Ohio State. Personnel men and coaches wanted to see if the explosiveness and athleticism he showed playing defensive end in college could translate to playing outside linebacker in the NFL. He answered those questions at the Combine, looking explosive, quick, agile and athletic in all drills. More than a few scouts said he looked like he had been playing linebacker his whole life. He will go in the first round to a team using a 3-4 scheme.

    Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas. He can play anywhere, be it outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or end in a 4-3 system. He showed the elite explosiveness and speed to be a pass-rush demon from either alignment. His Combine performance should lock up a top-15 pick.

    Taylor Mays, S, USC. Hestruggled as a senior—showing questionable athleticism and coverage skills—and then was inconsistent during Senior Bowl practices. At Lucas Oil Stadium, he looked like his did in '08, showing good all-around athleticism for a big safety. Most NFL teams will place his final grade somewhere between his great play as a junior and his inconsistent senior season, which should get him drafted in the middle-to-late first round.

    Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona. He jumped onto NFL radars with strong East-West Shrine Game practices. Still, personnel men wanted to see if he could repeat those flashes of elite quickness and athleticism. On Monday, he ran an excellent 40-yard dash (in the low 4.8-second range) and showed good athleticism in all the drills. Now, there are no doubts he has NFL size, strength and athleticism and could go as high as the third round.

    Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech. He looked great on film in '09, but personnel men wanted to see his size and athleticism up close. He impressed by weighing in at 266 pounds with long arms and displaying great quickness, burst and athleticism throughout his workout Monday. Morgan and South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul likely will battle it out to be the first defensive end drafted April 22, perhaps both in the top 10.

    Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State. He came to Indy viewed as a solid athlete who was productive mostly because of his smarts, technique and effort. On Monday, he showed surprising quickness, agility, flexibility and athleticism and put himself into the discussion as to who is the third-best defensive tackle, behind Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy.

    Jeff Owens, NT, Georgia. After the season, Owens was viewed as a solid third- or fourth-round prospect, but he then dominated at the Senior Bowl and moved into second-round consideration. At the Combine, he no doubt looked better than the other top nose tackles—Tennessee's Dan Williams and Alabama's Terrence Cody—and could slip into the bottom of the first round.

    Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri. Weatherspoon had a disappointing senior season, playing heavier than he did in '08. At the Senior Bowl, he showed up in much better shape and looked quick and athletic all week in practice. Then at Combine, he displayed the athleticism NFL coaches covet and has personnel men convinced he can be productive in a 4-3 scheme (middle or weakside linebacker) or in a 3-4 (inside linebacker). He should be a late-first- or early-second-round pick.

    Jason Worilds, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech. Scouts weren't quite sure where he fit best, the primary reason he was viewed as a fourth-round prospect before the Combine. On Monday, he proved he is a top-level athlete and pretty much locked up a spot in the third round and could move up even further with a strong on-campus workout March 18.


    Joe Haden, CB, Florida. He was the nearly unanimous No. 1 cornerback heading into the Combine, but some surely will question that after his 4.57-second 40-yard dash Tuesday. He showed poor technique Tuesday but looks faster and more athletic on film, and our opinion of him won't change. That said, general managers drafting in the top 10 might be scared off by Tuesday's poor performance. The pressure is surely on to show marked improvement at his on-campus workout March 17.

    One cautionary note: Brandon Flowers had been a top-15 prospect in '08 before a poor 40 at the Combine sank his draft stock. The Chiefs stole him in the second round, 35th overall, and Flowers now is one of the NFL's better cornerbacks. Haden is unlikely to fall that far, but he very well could slide on draft day.

    Kendrick Lewis, S, Ole Miss. Scouts around the league have been glowing about Lewis since the start of the '09 season, and many NFL evaluators have given him second-round grades. He struggled Tuesday at the Combine, and his stock could really suffer. Safeties who run the 40 in more than 4.7 seconds historically become late-round picks regardless of their on-field play.

    Vince Oghobaase, DT, Duke. Some scouts had tagged him as a "sleeper" because of his size, athleticism and intelligence, but after a disappointing Combine he no longer holds that tag. He looked slow in all drills Monday, lacking speed and quickness and burst. He likely will fall into the late rounds.

    I'm A "Champion"

  3. #3
    2nd String tburg68's Avatar
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    I didnt' realize that the first round of the NFL draft was 45 picks long. If you follow these predictions, everyone has worked their way into being a first round pick.

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