Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:34 am
With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off Wednesday, nearly every where you look you'll find another analyst with a list of athletes who could put up astonishing workout numbers.
Dane Brugler and I collaborated on a that identified ten players with questions to answer in Indianapolis. Our colleague, Bruce Feldman, identified ten "athletic freaks" who should put forth some of the best numbers of any players invited to the combine this year.
The simple reality of the combine season is that only occasionally are scouts surprised by the athleticism shown by prospects. At least among the senior prospects, scouts have been looking at them all year long and know what to expect. Prospects who don't perform well despite having a month (or more) typically to prepare for the very specific drills tested serve as more of a red flag to most talent evaluators than a surprisingly strong workout usually helps a prospect.
The story is very different for underclassmen, however.
Teams haven't had nearly as much time to prepare for these athletes and considering that the 2012 draft will feature a record 65 underclassmen, no year in history has as much potential for under the radar underclassmen to emphatically put their names on the map than this one.
Rather than wait to see which underclassmen will surprise, I thought I'd take a chance at predicting five I believe could light up the combine and see a significant boost to their draft stock, as a result.
CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris has been a bit of a forgotten man since multiple run-ins with authorities led to his ultimately being kicked off the team by head coach Chip Kelly. While he'll certainly need to answer scouts' questions, once Harris is allowed to show off his athletic gifts, I believe he'll quickly force NFL teams to recognize his upside. After playing at less than 170 pounds throughout much of his career with the Ducks, scouts will be just as interested in how Harris physically measures up as well as how fast he runs, etc.
WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: Hill reminds me a lot of former Georgia Tech standout Demaryius Thomas for his size, straight-line speed and big play ability. NFLDraftScout.com is currently estimating Hill as being able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. I think he'll shave a tenth off that time, as well as impress in leaping drills. He's undeniably raw but don't be surprised if a strong showing in Indianapolis pushes Hill into the second round.
OT Bobby Massie, Mississippi: Massie signed with Ole Miss as one of the elite prep talents in the country but partially due to the anonymous nature of the right tackle position and to Ole Miss' relative struggles, Massie isn't getting much attention in the mainstream media. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he shows very impressive athleticism, balance and power in drills based on his tape. The "big three" junior tackles -- USC's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin -- get the bulk of the attention but with the position essentially wide open after them, don't be surprised if Massie gives Ohio State's Mike Adams a run for his money as the 4th tackle off the board.
QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: Osweiler is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated quarterback and No. 45-rated prospect, overall, so he hardly qualifies as under the radar. However, considering the amount of hype being generated around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and even Ryan Tannehill, the lanky Osweiler hasn't received the national attention his talent warrants. If Osweiler can calm concerns about his mobility at a estimated 6-7, 240 pounds, scouts won't be able to resist admiring his strong, accurate arm.
CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson is one of three relatively "unknown" cornerbacks that I am significantly higher on than most (the other two are seniors Ryan Steed from Furman and Trumaine Johnson from Montana). Robinson's speed, agility and leaping ability jump off tape. If he works out as well as I think he will based on the athleticism I've seen on the field, scouts may have a hard time justifying Robinson not winding up a top 100 pick.
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:28 pm
Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia wasn't among the 300-plus prospects invited to this week's Scouting Combine, but he is still working hard to convince scouts to give him a shot at the NFL.
Garcia participated in the Battle of Florida all-star game and took part in one of the regional scouting combines that were set up this year. He's waiting to hear if he'll be selected for a "super regional combine" scheduled for March 30 at Ford Field in Detroit.
It has been a long road for Garcia, a one-time prized recruit who was kicked off the South Carolina team last year for drinking alcohol when he was given a no tolerance policy from coach Steve Spurrier following five previous suspensions.
However, Spurrier is allowing Garcia to participate in South Carolina's March 28 pro day, and the quarterback said he's committed to proving to NFL teams that he does not have a problem with alcohol.
"I want to meet with the NFL and prove that I'm not an alcoholic," Garcia told Scout.com's Aaron Wilson. "I've learned from my mistakes."
"I've learned how immature I really was. I just didn't know exactly how important everything was until after I made all of those mistakes. I was trying to be like every other college kid, but you can't do that as a starting quarterback
Garcia is the 26th-rated quarterback available in April's draft by NFLDraftScout.com, and is currently viewed as unlikely to be drafted. However, he could sign as a priority free agent and get that opportunity to prove himself in an NFL camp.
Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 9:14 pm
Robert Griffin III has moved his pro day up to March 21, one day before Andrew Luck's pro day, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The move avoids a conflict for NFL scouts, who can now take in both workouts.
The change might benefit teammates more than Luck and Griffin III, who are the top two rated players by NFLDraftScout.com. With Stanford and Baylor both boasting several draftable players, scouts won't have to choose which workout to attend.
Luck and Griffin will both be in Indianapolis this week for the Scouting Combine. While they will interview with teams and take part in measurements and the media sessions, both may choose to skip the throwing sessions. Many top quarterback prospects choose to wait until their personal pro days, when they can work out on their home turf and with their own receivers.
UPDATE: Griffin said he is looking forward to talking to executives, will run the 40-yard dash and take part in drills at the Combine, but will not take part in throwing drills.
Posted on: February 20, 2012 12:44 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 3:02 pm
NFL scouts will get the opportunity to see Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who most rated as the elite wide receiver in the 2012 draft, participate fully in this week's Scouting Combine.
NFLDraftScout.com has learned that a high ankle sprain will keep another potential first round pass-catcher from doing the same, however.
Albert Breer of NFL.com reports that Blackmon plans to "do it all" in Indianapolis this week and even predicts that he'll be timed between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds when he runs the 40-yard dash. Despite Blackmon dominating the competition at the collegiate level, including winning back to back Biletnikof Awards as the nation's elite receiver, scouts have reservations about his straight-line speed. Blackmon, in fact, has been routinely estimated as a receiver with 4.55-4.60 speed by area scouts who have scouted him numerous times in person. A perceived lack of top-end speed is the one physical characteristic Blackmon would appear to be lacking when compared to receivers taken in the top six in recent years like A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson. Scouts also have some reservations about Blackmon's decision-making off the field, in large part due to an arrest for driving while under the influence of alcohol in October, 2010. Blackmon was just 20 years old at the time.
While scouts will get some of their biggest questions answered about arguably the elite non-QB skill-position talent in the draft at the Combine, they'll have to wait until Stanford's March 22 Pro Day to see Coby Fleener, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior tight end, perform athletic drills. Considering that some guy named Luck is expected to throw that day as well as the presence of two first round caliber offensive linemen (OG David DeCastro, OT Jonathan Martin) also among those expected to be on hand for the workout, there should be plenty of decision-makers in Palo Alto for the workout.
Ironically enough, Fleener suffered his ankle injury playing against Blackmon's Oklahoma State Cowboys January 3 in the Fiesta Bowl. The injury kept Fleener out of the Senior Bowl. According to a source close to the situation, Fleener has recovered suffiiciently from the injury but hasn't yet had an opportunity to prepare fully for the Combine-specific workouts. Though he won't be able to work out, Fleener will attend the Combine to participate in the medical testing and interview process.
Posted on: February 19, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 3:36 pm
NFL scouts will get the opportunity to scout Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill Pro Day one week after the only two quarterbacks currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com ahead of him -- Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III -- are scheduled to hold their own.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt reports that Tannehill will have an on-campus workout March 29.
It will be the first time scouts have seen Tannehill since he guided the Aggies to a Meineke Bowl win over Northwestern December 31st. Tannehill suffered a foot injury while preparing for the Senior Bowl at IMG Football Academy in Bradenton, Florida. It was discovered that he had broken the fifth metatarsal. The injury and subsequent surgery in which a screw was inserted cost Tannehill the opportunity to compete in the Senior Bowl, next week's Scouting Combine or Texas A&M's initial Pro Day March 7.
While Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins boosted their stock with strong efforts at the Senior Bowl, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill remains the most talented senior quarterback in the land and is likely to be the first one drafted.
Some believe Tannehill's obvious talent will be enough to land him in the first round. Others, including myself, are having a harder time envisioning a quarterback with only 19 collegiate starts at the position as being a first-round pick. While I don't include him in my mock draft, I do believe he's among the top 32 talents in this draft.
Posted on: February 18, 2012 12:49 pm
The NFL's ever-expanding marketing promotions have taken the next logical step and will be allowing 250 fans into the 2012 Scouting Combine.
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:37 am
The unfortunate reality about the Scouting Combine is that too many of the elite prospects choose not to work out in Indianapolis but instead wait until their Pro Day.
Boston College's Luke Kuechly -- the consensus top rated inside linebacker in the 2012 draft and reigning Butkus, Nagurski, Lombardi and LOTT Impact Trophy award winner -- told me that he certainly won't be passing up on the opportunity to compete.
"Yes, I'll be doing everything at the Combine. I'm looking forward to it," Kuechy told me in a phone interview this week.
Kuechly has been hard at work at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida preparing for the work out since shortly after his January 6 announcement that he'd be bypassing his senior season and heading to the NFL.
Kuechly is one of 33 NFL hopefuls training in Bradenton. With him are several other potential first round prospects, including Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, Wisconsin offensive lineman Peter Konz and Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Kuechly elected to attend IMG partially due to recommendations from two former BC standouts who trained there last year -- offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (the Indianapolis Colts' first round pick last April) and outside linebacker Mark Herzlich (New York Giants).
The Boston College product told me that he's primarily been working on speed and explosiveness drills in preparation for the Combine and is currently measuring in at 6-3 and 240 pounds.
Kuechly currently ranks No. 19 overall on my personal player rankings for the 2012 draft. He seems an obvious candidate for the Philadelphia Eagles considering their woes at middle linebacker and is projected by Dane Brugler and I to be the Eagles' choice with the No. 15 overall pick.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 12:49 pm
Typically NFL teams wait until after the Combine and Pro Day workouts to schedule private visits with potential draft picks.