Workouts at the 2017 NFL Combine begin today and run through Monday. This is one of the major opportunities that scouts and fans alike will have to preview players in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft before the draft takes place in late April. These players have been waiting their entire lives for an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of an NFL audience, and the combine is a great indicator for which prospects are the best fit with any individual team. If you are planning to watch, these are the players you will want to keep a close eye on:
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Austin Rehkow, K, Idaho
Bengals fans, in particular, will be interested to watch the results of today’s combine performances. Running backs, offensive linemen, and special teams players will be on display, and the Bengals could use help at every single position. Robinson needs to prove that his balance and motor will not be serious issues at the NFL level, Kamara has a chance to show off his ideal size/speed combo, and Rehkow simply needs to confirm that he is worthy of all the hype. Today’s workouts could, very well, give Bengals fans a sneak peek at some of the talent the team is planning to bring in this year.
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The March 4 workouts will allow quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers to show off their skills. Bengals fans may not be as interested in this particular day as the Bengals seem confident in their current depth at each of those positions. But, the Bengals often take the best player available at each spot. That means, a prospect like Njoku, who displays all of the base talent in the world for his position, but will need to demonstrate a more refined technique and focus, could impress the Bengals and end up as completely surprising pick.
Don’t expect the Bengals to be seriously looking at Watson, or any other high-end quarterbacks. Marvin Lewis has indicated the Bengals won’t select a quarterback in Round 1, but, Watson is still one of the most interesting prospects at the combine due to his pocket posture and mobility, with the stipulation of having frame and accuracy concerns. If anything, he will be one of the players anyone wants to watch, just to see how he fares.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Jabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
If March 3 is not the most important day for Bengals fans to watch, then March 5 definitely is. Only defensive linemen and linebackers will be participating on this day, but those are easily two of the Bengals’ biggest needs in this year’s draft. Guys like Thomas, Cunningham, and Peppers are all expected to be in the running for one of the Bengals’ early picks.
Garrett will almost certainly be off the board before the Bengals’ No. 9 overall pick. But, as the potential No. 1 overall pick, a solid or weak combine performance from him could change the entire nature of the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. Anyone with even a remote interest in this year’s Scouting Combine will want to pay close attention to his performance.
Adoree Jackson, DB, USC
Marshon Lattimore, DB, Ohio State
The final day of the draft may be the one the Bengals have the least interest in. Cornerbacks and safeties will take center stage on Monday, two positions the Bengals should be comfortable at. The Bengals’ two starting safeties are under contract through 2020, and the team has used first round picks on a cornerback in three of the last five drafts. The Bengals also boast some very talented, lesser known backups on the roster at both positions.
Then again, as previously mentioned, the Bengals will likely take the prospect whom they feel is the best at playing football, regardless of position. If that prospect happens to be a safety, who are we to argue? Jackson has the freakish athleticism and Lattimore has the explosive potential to really shine at this year’s combine. If either of them make the kind of impression they’re capable of, their draft stock could soar to new heights.
“There are a couple of safeties high in this draft that can do that,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said this week. “You can’t get caught up in the No. 9 pick. Even if he’s ranked in the middle of the round, he’s still a first-round player. You’re not picking a lesser player.”
Other than quarterback, essentially every position is in play for the Bengals early in the 2017 NFL Draft and this should be an exciting weekend of watching the prospects shine at the Combine.