Tag:NFL Combine
Posted on: February 23, 2010 6:49 pm
 

Combine Surprise Team

Everyone knows that CJ Spiller is going to run well and that Ndamukong Suh is strong. For other standouts, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter did a nice job of previewing the Combine here.

I wanted to pass along a few of my thoughts, as well.

My Combine Surprise Team list isn't designed to predict which players will post the fastest times in the 40-yard dash (Jacoby Ford) per position or lift the 225 pound bar (Mike Neal) the most times.

It is, instead, a peek ahead to prospects I feel will boost their stock due to all-around strong performances at the Combine.



QB - Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: Better athleticism than most think and he'll impress with his accuracy
RB - Lonyae Miller, Fresno State: Don't be surprised if Ryan Mathews' backup runs better than most of the other backs tested.
TE - Andrew Quarless: Speed and vertical jump will surprise. Has to catch the ball cleanly.
WR - Taylor Price, Ohio: Watch this kid run his way into the second round.
OT - Selvish Capers, West Virginia: Capers may have struggled in Mobile, but the former TE's athleticism will be on display this week. 
OG -  Marshall Newhouse, TCU: Amongst a relatively unathletic group, Newhouse, a former LT, could stand out.
C -  Matt Tennant, Boston College: Like guards, the 2010 center class doesn't possess many standout athletes, but Tennant's light feet should impress.

DE -  Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida: At 6-6, 260 pounds, Pierre-Paul can backflip his way onto a gymnastics team . How that translates into sacking the quarterback I don't know, but it does speak to his unique athleticism.
(Okay, so Pierre-Paul isn't really much of a surprise. I just wanted an excuse to put up the youtube video. Here is another defensive end to keep an eye on)
DE - Kevin Basped, Nevada: For a kid with his lanky (6-6, 240) frame, Basped is going to surprise people with his strength.
DT - Mike Neal, Purdue: Remember the old Bill Parcells NFL video, "This is why you lift all them weights..." ? Neal does. 
ILB - Donald Butler, Washington: Among the more athletic linebackers no one is talking about.
OLB - Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota: The scouts know about undersized OLBs Rennie Curran, Dekoda Watson and Harry Coleman. They'll know Lawrence's name after this week too. 
CB - Joshua Moore, Kansas State: Nationally underrated corner jumps into primetime this week. 
S - Chad Jones, LSU: I've spoken to scouts who feel Jones is one of the ten best all-around athletes in the draft. Hefty praise considering Jones measures in around 6-3, 230... 



Posted on: February 23, 2010 6:37 pm
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Posted on: February 23, 2010 1:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2010 1:49 pm
 

DE Derrick Morgan plans to work out in Indy

Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan is planning to work out at the Combine in his attempt to secure the title as the top-rated pass rusher of the 2010 draft.

I spoke to Derrick a bit ago in preparation for a future article. The defending ACC Defensive Player of the Year is eager to show off what he can do, especially after a not so-splashy final performance in the 24-14 loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Morgan, who posted 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and a 12.5 sacks on the year, was limited to "only" three tackles and .5 tackles for loss against Iowa's stellar offensive line.

Morgan credited Hawkeye left tackle Bryan Bulaga as having a good game, but also was quick to point out that his lack of big numbers wasn't a big concern to either he or those close to the Tech program.

"My not having a monster game, individually, was not a big deal," Morgan said. "Our focus was to play good team defense, which doesn't always result in one player getting big numbers. I think we defended them well. We just came up short in that game."

South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may pose the biggest challenge to Morgan as the top pass rusher of the draft. The 6-6, 265 pound Pierre-Paul has an explosive first step and very long arms, two qualities which scouts feel make him an ideal weak-side pass rusher. He is also expected to work out exceedingly well -- perhaps better than Morgan.

Where Morgan stands out is in his ability to hold up nicely against the run. Morgan locates the ball quickly and hustles to it, whereas Pierre-Paul, at least at this point, lacks the functional strength and instincts teams are looking for in an everydown defensive end.

Pierre-Paul may have more upside, but Morgan is the more polished player at this point -- which is why he ranks as the No. 1 defensive end on my board.



Posted on: February 22, 2010 2:13 pm
 

Tebow not throwing, huge opportunity for others

Over the past several days, we've seen Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen and Dan LeFevour announce that they'll not be throwing at the Combine. Texas' Colt McCoy hopes to throw, but left himself wiggle room in case his recovering shoulder doesn't feel 100%.

Tebow, citing the fact that he's altered his throwing mechanics since the Senior Bowl, is not going to throw now.

Should these five -- arguably the top five quarterbacks in the draft -- all elect not to throw, it opens up a world of opportunity for Tony Pike, Zac Robinson, Sean Canfield and others to make a significant leap up the board. When "on" Robinson was as impressive as any during the Senior Bowl and the individual skills competition a few weeks ago. If you're looking for a darkhorse candidate to really leap up the board during the passing drills, he might be one to focus in on.

On another note, the decision to leave out worthy throwers like former Tennessee standout Jonathan Crompton could come back to bite scouts. Crompton, I'm sure, would accept a late invite to help make sure there were enough arms for the receiver, tight end and back receiving drills.

A few years ago, I watched former BYU star John Beck move himself into the top of the second round with a strong showing at the Combine. Last year, with Matt Stafford watching from the sidelines, I watched Mark Sanchez impress scouts with his competitive fire by participating, fizzle a bit during the workout and then leap up draft boards when he showed staggering improvement at the USC Pro Day roughly a month later.





Posted on: February 21, 2010 12:29 pm
 

Gronkowski will only lift at Combine

Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the real unknowns of the 2010 draft after missing the entire 2009 season due to a back injury and subsequent surgery.

According to Gronkowksi, interviewed last night on Sirius Radio with Howard Balzer, it seems that scouts will have to wait a bit longer to see him perform. Gronkowski is choosing to participate in the bench press only and will save all other drills for his Pro Day (tentatively scheduled for March 12).

Considering that the injury in question was his back, Gronkowski's decision to lift seems odd. Some will presume it as proof that Gronkowski feels he is healthy enough to perform all of the drills, but is electing to buy himself some more time to run the all-important 40-yard dash and go through pass-catching and route-running drills.

Of course, the biggest test Gronkowski has to answer at the Combine, he'll still undergo - proving through the exhaustive medical screening that he is, in fact, 100%.

Despite having only two seasons under his belt, the 20-year old Gronkowski is Arizona's all-time leading tight end in various categories, including the single-game, single-season, and career leader in receptions (75), receiving yards (1,197) and touchdowns (16).


When healthy, Gronkowski is the 2010 draft's best all-around tight end prospect and worthy of a first round pick. Considering the injury questions with Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham and the size limitations of Florida's Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski has a chance to be the first tight end selected this year. Depending on the scheme, each of these three players may be the top-rated tight end on NFL boards.
Posted on: February 20, 2010 3:07 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 3:08 pm
 

Dan LeFevour Not Throwing at Combine

NFL scouts have grown all too familiar with the fact that many of the elite prospects each year choose not to participate in the drills at the Combine.

Typically, however, this is reserved to elite prospects -- surefire first round candidates. Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen, considered the year's top two passer prospects, have already announced that they'll be waiting until their Pro Days to throw.

Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour has the production to warrant this type of hype. In fact, his statistics (15,853 total yards, 150 career touchdowns) while at Central Michigan are staggering.

Scouts, however, generally have placed him amongst the second tier of quarterbacks.
He is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's 6th-best quarterback and a 3rd round prospect,

That said, LeFeavour has publicly announced that he'll essentially be saying, "Thanks, but no thanks" to scouts when asked to throw in Indianapolis next week.

LeFevour announced his decision through an interview with Dan Mogollon at NFL Draft Bible.

“I’ll be doing (pretty much) everything except throwing at the combine,” LeFevour said.

In follow-up questions, LeFevour went on to add, “I will focus solely on throwing at Pro Day. Just getting focused with that…only having one thing to do on Pro Day and being able to work with my receivers up at school that are coming out. Putting everything I've got into that aspect of it.”

LeFevour's decision is surprising. He had been solid at the Senior Bowl and during the made-for-TV Individual Competition drills a few weeks ago, building some buzz for himself.

Throwing to his own receivers in his own setting will likely lead to LeFevour throwing more impressively during his Pro Day, but if teams are turned off by his decision, the move could significantly backfire.

A link to the entire audio is here.

Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:24 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2010 1:30 pm
 

Thomas' broken foot robs Combine of great athlete

Few prospects had been earning more buzz in the scouting community in the weeks leading up to the Combine than Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The 6-3, 230 pound Thomas had reportedly been timed in the 4.3s during workouts at Athletes Performance Institute, adding further fuel to the litany of comparisons he's enjoyed over his career to former teammate Calvin Johnson.

Unfortunately, the broken foot he suffered Wednesday will keep him working out for scouts at the Combine, and may keep him from working out for scouts before the draft at all. With some teams operating team drills as soon as a week after the draft, itself, Thomas may not be able to participate until training camp.

Thomas' role in Paul Johnson's triple-option offense was primarily as a deep threat. He was rarely asked to run anything more complicated than a go route or quick slant to take advantage of his size advantage over opposing cornerbacks. Considering his relative inexperience as a route-runner, pre-draft workouts were likely as important to securing Thomas' rightful place in the 2010 receiver class as they were for any other pass-catcher.

Thomas, due to his size and pure athleticism, appeared to be one of the most intriguing stories of the Combine.

He'll still be among the Combine's most intriguing storylines -- due instead with what teams see in the x-rays taken of his left foot.

Posted on: February 17, 2010 1:08 pm
 

Suh looking forward to working out in Indy

I spoke to Ndamukong Suh yesterday for an article on his and other prospects' preparation for the pre-draft workouts. Unlike most of the top talents of recent years, Suh is fully planning on taking advantage of the hundreds of scouts attending the Combine and will work out there.

"I plan on doing every last bit of that Combine," Suh told me during a phone interview. "I'm looking forward to all of the drills; taking care of business in every last piece of that. I'm not going to shy away from anything. The only way I wouldn't do that would be if I wasn't 100% with my body."

Suh went on to explain that he is at 100% and essentially has been all year long, aside from "some bumps and bruises during the season."

As impressive as I expect Suh to be in workouts, his time to shine might be in front of the podium during the media and team interviews. Suh is much more cerebral and soft-spoken than the ferocity of his game and physicality of his position might lead one to believe. In a time when every front office asks themselves if their first round pick is truly someone that can be "the face of the franchise," Suh will impress.

Suh has been training with former Olympian Michael Johnson at the Michael Johnson Performance Center just outside of Dallas, Texas. Among the other notables training there are Texas' Sergio Kindle, LSU receiver Brandon LaFell, Mississippi's Greg Hardy and Dexter McCluster and Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer.
 
 
 
 
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