Nick Marshall- This one might be a shocker. He is a winner but it has nothing to do with what happened on the field in Indianapolis. The reason why he is a winner is because he didn't let his pride cost him a chance to play in the NFL. Nick Marshall was a fine college quarterback, but his transition to the NFL as a quarterback would have been difficult. He listened to the NFL scouts who told him he may have a shot as a cornerback, so he went out in the combine and worked in both cornerback drills and quarterback drills. When you get up in the morning and look yourself in the mirror, if you think I want to be an NFL player you have to do anything you can to get on an NFL roster, and he did just that.
Vic Beasley- The word freak is often used too much when describing crazy athletes going into the NFL. In Vic Beasley's case the word freak is exactly how you should describe him. This guy destroyed all the combine drill metrics, posting The top marks in every drill in which he competed. Just imagine a man weighing 235 pounds who can run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds; unless you see something like this in person you really can't grasp how truly amazing it is. Now, the only question that remains with Vic Beasley is if can he continue to add weight and play the run. The one question he did answer during the combine is that he could add some weight to his frame and still maintain his crazy athletic burst.
Byron Jones- Humans aren't meant to be able to jump 12 feet and 3 inches from a standstill, but Byron Jones did just that. To put that into context for you, imagine two tall men, laying head-to-head and you standing at one of their feet and trying to jump over them both; it's simply an amazing feat. By doing that, he vaulted himself right on the map of every scout in the NFL. To most people, he was an unknown. If you are a Cincinnati Bearcats fan, like me, then you probably know him from their AAC games vs UConn. He suffered a shoulder injury in 2014 which cost him most of the season, so he hasn't been on many scouts radars. His tape is pretty good; combined with his performance in Indy, I wouldn't be surprised to see a guy like him go as early as the fourth round. Of all the people who made themselves money this weekend, Jones may have made himself the most.
Dante Fowler Jr.- The only guy who might be even more impressive than Vic Beasley was Dante Fowler. At 261 pounds it's pretty amazing that Dante was able to run a 4.61 40 yard dash. His 10 yard split (an acceleration metric) was incredible. This is something scouts are really looking for because it translates to sacks in the NFL. If you can get moving quickly with initial burst and speed you can cause disruption in the backfield. With his added weight, Dante was still able to put up great marks and now teams will know they can add more weight to his frame or keep him lean depending on what their defensive scheme is. Dante also wowed teams' front office members in the interview room. His positive attitude, even though the gators were very bad this year, really showed teams he loves to play football. This is something teams look for to help ease thier nerves when they're spending such a high pick on a player. There was once hope for Bengals fans that Dante might slide all the way down to them at pick 21, now I am confident he will not make it out of the top 5.
Ronald Darby- One way to get all the NFL scouts' eyes pop at the NFL combine is going out and running the second fastest 40 time of 4.38 seconds. The real question with Darby coming in was, is he physical enough to play in the run game. He has shown he has elite speed, so teams will be less worried about his ability to play the run. This is because they know with his speed he can actually shut down defenders and they won't need to worry about his tackling. Did Deion Sanders play the run...no he didn't. Did the Falcons care...no they didn't. It was huge for him to run a fast time and he went out and did it. He also excelled in most of the positional drills, showing good form and technique.
Jalen Collins- It was a combination of his whole day that helped Jalen Collins to improve his stock at the combine, and he definitely had a good day. He ran fast in the 40 yard dash, especially for a bigger corner. He did well in all the position drills, interviewed well, (so I hear) and he caught the ball well in the gauntlet drill. He is one of the larger quarterbacks so for him to stay in the top 10 of most of the agility and speed drills was a big win for him. His total body of work, plus his solid tape from college will get him late first round consideration.
Stephone Anthony- If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I've been a big fan of Stephone Anthony for a long, long, time. He is a good football player and would fit the Bengals' scheme well. He was at one point my favorite choice to be a mid-round pick for the Bengals. As happy as I am that he went out and had a good showing during the combine, I would've much rather he stink it up so the Bengals could have gotten him with a lower pick. That's just because I always want the best for the Bengals. Well at least with him doing well at the combine I get to give myself a nice pat on the back, as everyone else jumps on the bandwagon in the coming weeks. Anthony is one of the larger linebackers and ran the second fastest 40 time. He continued to show improvement in the coverage drills and did fine in the agility drills for his size. From what I hear, scouts are very, very, high on him and he could go as early as 30th to the Green Bay Packers.
Jameis Winston- Well, Winston did exactly what he needed to do and I am positive it was all scripted. Still, he had to go there and execute the plan and that's what he did. He went to the combine healthy, he threw well, he did interviews well, and showed teams he has a high football IQ. It doesn't matter that Winston ran a 4.94 for his 40, because that doesn't mean much as an NFL quarterback. NFL teams want a player who can run if he has to, can deliver the ball accurately from the pocket, and deliver in crunch time.....cough, cough Andy. Jameis locked in that he will be the No. 1 pick overall and you can write that in stone, right now, today and from now on.
Chris Conley- I was really happy when I saw Chris Conley's combine numbers. Our own Anthony Cosenza got the chance to meet him at the NFLPA Bowl in Carson California. He's a really nice guy, quiet, and a film major off the field, which is unique for most athletes. At the NFLPA Bowl he was head and shoulders above everyone else, but even I didn't know he would run the combine numbers that he did. His 4.35 40 time and 45 inch vertical set him near the tops of all marks for wide receivers. He probably vaulted himself from the six to seventh round pick to maybe the third or fourth round. This is actually a guy I think the Bengals may target if he slides to the later rounds. At the NFLPA Bowl they had him doing kick returns, which is something the Bengals will covet from any receiver they select this year. He obviously has blazing speed, so as long as he can be laterally quick he could be a devastating kick returner.
Darren Waller-Here's another guy that hasn't had a chance to really prove himself this year and that's all based on the scheme of his team. If you've ever watched a Georgia Tech college football game, you know they run the quirky triple option. This doesn't allow a guy like Darren Waller to really showcase his skills. He's 6'6" and ran a 4.46 40 time. For his size, that's incredibly fast. At the combine he caught the ball well enough and obviously showed good long speed. Teams will definitely be going back to watch his film and will want to do individual workouts with him to see if he can run routes more crisply. In the Georgia Tech offense he was mostly just running nine routes and going deep. His 10 yard splits and acceleration metrics were not great, so teams will also be interested to see if he can improve in those areas.
P.J. Williams- It's not to say that PJ had a really bad combine, it's just that the other cornerbacks all had really good combines. PJ just came back to the pack a bit, so his stock will be affected. There are more cornerbacks now in the top five mix and they are all competing for the same early drafts slots.
Paul Dawson- Paul Dawson had one of the worst combines ever by a linebacker. The good thing for him s that most teams only factor in the combine for about 15% of the total evaluation process. Paul Dawson still has some of the best game tape of the linebackers in this draft class. The Bengals will be lucky if he slides to round two and if he does they should run to the podium to take him.
Chris Hackett- He needed to run a faster 40 time, that's the long and short of it. When you watch his tape he looks slow, but still makes plays. Having ran his 40 yard dash in 4.81 seconds that is far too slow for any team to trust him in the back half of their defense. He will really need to run a faster time at his pro day for teams not to drop him way down the board. He was a good player at TCU with good game tape, but the NFL game is much faster than college and he will need to prove to teams that he can keep up with the pace.
Brent Hundley- It's not that Brett Hundley really had a terrible combine, it's just that Mariota and Winston both did great. Hundley's accuracy was not as good as the other two quarterbacks during the throwing drills and really, Bryce Petty probably throws better than him. He still needs to work on his footwork and since Mariota and Winston decided to show up and throw, it magnified his flaws by their presence. This could have been Hundley's show to steal had Mariota and Winston decided to not throw, but they both did, hurting his stock. At one point, people talked that Hundley could sneak into the late part of the first round, but I don't see any way that happens now. He ran a fast 40 time, but as I stated before, that isn't so important at the quarterback position. I think the best case scenario for him now is a team drafting him in the late second round as a project to develop.
Brandon Schreff- Brandon Schreff has seen his stock take a downward spiral over the last month or two. To make matters worse, he pulled his hamstring during the combine and was not able to finish all the drills. At one point, he was widely considered as the top offensive tackle in this draft, but now teams are labeling him as a possible guard. As a result, he may slip into the late first round or even out of the first round. Hopefully for Brandon, he will be able to run at his pro day and gain some of his stock back before the draft on April 30th.
Ereck Flowers- If there was one person that had the worst day of all it would be Ereck Flowers. During the drill where scouts are watching their "kick slide" his footwork looked sloppy and slow. Many times throughout the day he looked completely out of place. He looked like a person who was not prepared for the combine. He didn't run extremely fast and that will also hurt his stock. He fell more spots than any other player on my big board as a result of his combine. I now have him rated as a high third round prospect and at one point I had him rated in the late first or early second.
Running Backs- I don't have time to go over every running back who disappointed me during the NFL combine this past weekend. This highly touted running back class really disappointed both scouts and viewers. The fact that Jeremy Langford ran the fastest 40 time, when he wasn't considered one of the fastest running backs in the group, really just tells the whole story. Some of the running backs in this draft are known as "scat" backs and needed to have low times in the agility drills and the 40. Although some had some good agility drills, all in all the running back group was a big disappointment. It may just show us that although this class is very deep, almost every back has some sort of flaw. I still think that there will be 8 to 9 backs that are drafted before we hit the top of the third round, but we might not see any go before the mid 20s.
Sammy Coates- Sammy's Coates was supposed to wow the scouts with his fast 40 time and low times in the agility drills. His 40 time of 4.43 was just outside of the top 10 and slow for what scouts expected from him. The problem for Sammy is that coming into the combine, people worried about his inconsistent hands. At the combine he showed those inconsistencies with a few drops during the ball skills drills. Since his track numbers were not jaw dropping, his catching problems will be looked at more critically. Sammy will need to run somewhere between 4.30 and 4.35 during his pro day to get himself back into the second round range.
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