From Manti Te’o's interview and poor showing in the 40 to Star Lotulelei’s heart condition, this year’s combine had more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie. These are a few observations of mine from the last few days of combine action.
- Chris Johnson’s 4.24 40 yard dash combine record is threatened! First wide out of the day, Tavon Austin from West Virginia, blazes an unofficial 4.25! As does WR Marquise Goodwin! Thankfully for Chris Johnson, the official times are always slower. I heard that some scouts had hand timed Goodwin at 4.19. That is ridiculous. Too bad no one will talk about all the dropped balls Goodwin had during his drills. I actually really do like Austin though. Goodwin may just be a fast guy, but Austin is a wide receiver.
- Big man runs REALLY fast. OT Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine-Bluff ran a ridiculous 4.71. The unofficial time was 4.65. Why I do like Armtstead though is that he was rising even before his 40 yard dash. He began getting some recognition at the East West Shrine game, scouts began watching his tape, and all of a sudden he is a day two discussion. The 4.71 goes to show you that he really is that good of an athlete but then again how much stock can we put into a 40 yard dash for offensive an lineman?
- Tyler Bray can sling it! QB Tyler Bray from Tennessee throws a few good lookin’ deep balls and BAM! He’s supposedly “climbing” draft boards.
- Jarvis Jones disappears from draft boards altogether? Apparently we should be looking for a draft day slide for Jarvis Jones and his spinal stenosis. USC doctors won’t clear him, so he goes to Georgia where he IS cleared to play. He gets cleared again, then he shows up to the combine and he’s NOT cleared? Who are his doctors? Doctor Dre? Doctor Who? Doctor Zhivago? I hate it for the young man because we all know he can play. Just watch his tape. This is unfortunate, and I’m hearing that he will suffer a DaQuan Bowers-esque slide in April.
- Star Lotulelei’s heart condition. This is probably the biggest shock. Lotulelei was a projected top 5 pick, and now he can’t even work out? This is highly disappointing, and late last night it was sounding very serious. Today I read that it might not be serious. What have we learned? Based on Jarvis Jones and Star Lotulelei, doctors have a difficult time diagnosing college football players.
- Chris Johnson’s 4.24 40 yard dash record is threatened again! This time by Auburn RB Onterio McCalebb. I believe he clocked an unofficial 4.21, but his official came out as a 4.34.
I’m going to stop there for now. After all, you can read on these topics anywhere. So in the spirit of banging my own drum, I’m going to highlight what and who I noticed at the combine. I will not waste my time talking about how disappointing Geno Smith was. Is that even news?
- Brian Schwenke, OC, Cal 6-3, 314: Brian Schwenke had a respectable showing on Saturday. He ran a sub 5.0 40 (which if you saw this guy, you wouldn’t believe me), and had 31 reps on the benchpress. He only has 32 inch arms, so people will knock him for that, but hey lighten up…this guy is a center! It’s not Schwenke’s combine numbers I want to address. It’s how great he looked in drills like the kickslide and mirror drills. He looks to have good short area quickness, and moved pretty well for a big man. He’s projected to go in the 3rd round. I wouldn’t be disappointed one bit if the Jaguars selected Schwenke in the 3rd, and in the 4th he’d be a steal.
- Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M: This guy had a chip on his shoulder. He was ready to shock the world. I’m not going to quote him on that, but I’m pretty sure I saw a RT or two of him actually tweeting it. He was a top performer in all drills, but most impressive was his 43.0 vertical which set a new combine record. Michael spent much of his time in the doghouse during his time at College Station, and I’m not too sure why. I’m not saying that just because he can jump really high, he’s going to be a great pro…I’m simply saying that’s super impressive and indicative of good lower body strength.
- Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: Height/Weight/Speed guy, a lot of experts have Patterson as the top WR prospect. I’m not going to talk about his tape OR his combine numbers. Did anyone else watch his drills? He looked great, but there’s one thing that’s sticking with me. “Have your gloves on when you get to the line, we’re not here to wait on you,” a coach quipped to Patterson as Patterson approached the start of the drill. Did anyone else see Patterson go to the back of the line after his turn and actually take his gloves off after being reprimanded?! The drill was NOT over and he did have another turn. I’m pretty sure he had his gloves ready, but the fact he even took them off after coach told him to have his gloves on and ready…I don’t know. Just doesn’t sit right with me.
- TJ Moe, WR, Mizzou: This guy was sloooow. Ran something awful like a 4.74 40. He did have 26 reps on the benchpress so it shows that he has strength which he will need to compensate for his lack of speed and height standing at 5’11. He has great hands though, and he put them on display with a very impressive one handed snag during drills.
- Margus Hunt DE, SMU/Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State/Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon/Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: Now I did see Margus Hunt and Dion Jordan’s ridiculous numbers from today’s drills. Margus Hunt ran a 4.74 40 and had 38 reps. Hunt and Brandon Williams lead everyone with 38 reps on the benchpress. Dion Jordan ran a 4.68 40 yard dash. Damontre Moore did an extremely disappointing 12 reps and pretty much proved his own point, and what his tape has been saying for so long which is…”I don’t deserve to be in the top 10.” Do I think Hunt will be a good pro? Based on what I’ve heard and seen during Senior Bowl week, I don’t believe he’ll deserve a 1st round selection. Too many question marks surround what position he’ll play, and we still don’t know how he’ll do against tougher competition having not played football for too long. He seemed to disappear during Senior Bowl practices. Someone will fall in love with his numbers though and he might have just squeezed himself into the first round. I’m really starting to like Dion Jordan, and I’m wondering if he should be in the discussion for No. 2 overall.
These are just a few things I’ve seen at the combine thus far. Really the combine in 2013 hasn’t proven anything new. It simply mails it home that there are some really good, athletic and talented offensive and defensive linemen in this draft class. Of course every group has shown something so far. There looks to be some serviceable workmen-like backs in the RBs group. The WRs are solid, not spectacular and are a good mix of speed and size. The QBs have a long way to go, but maybe there’s a good developmental prospect who will emerge down the road.
As far as linebackers go, were there any others there besides Manti Te’o? Talk about being under the microscope. The NFL Te’o Combine. Ridiculous! The LB class can’t be THAT shallow can it? There are a few guys in this class I like. Khaseem Greene from Rutgers, Cornelius Washington from UGA, Chase Thomas from Stanford, and Sio Moore from UConn just to name a few. I think any of these guys will hold value in the mid to late rounds, but none garner higher than a 3rd round selection.
The more and more time that goes by, I’m really starting to like Ezekiel Ansah. I was on the fence at first, with him only having started 9 games in college. I became even more hesitant during Senior Bowl practices. He exploded during the game though, and ever since then his stock has been on the rise. I like his raw talent, and as of now it looks as if he has nowhere to go but up. With so much raw athleticism, I don’t think it’s going to be a question of if he can actually play on the pro level. It will be a question of work ethic. The most important thing will be Ansah’s interview. I don’t believe he has a shady past or any kind of character issues for that matter, but I’d like to get an idea of what kind of person he is. Will he be a hard worker? Will he study and learn the game?
Call me a victim of the moment, but I can see the Jaguars taking him at No. 2 overall. I just think that he has a higher ceiling than a player like Bjoern Werner.
Now let’s see what these DBs can do…
-David R. Johns