NFL Scouting Combine Winners and Losers
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Quarterbacks: With most of the top guys not throwing, it was not a good combine if your team needed a quarterback. Many of the 2nd and 3rd tier guys that did workout/throw, barely met expectations and some even failed to reach that bar.
Running backs: The running back class wasn’t as bad as the quarterback class, but it wasn’t an impressive showing for a group that can usually steal the show at the Combine. A few guys did impress, but for the most part a number of running backs maintained or hurt their stock with the workouts.
Ciron Black OT: Black came into this season figuring to be an early 2nd round pick, who could play his way into the first round. After his worst season, Black did nothing to help himself at the combine. Black measured out with shorter arms than most tackles and posted relatively poor 40 yard times and bench press reps. Black will likely need to kick inside to guard, and will fall into the 5th-7th round range.
Brandon LaFell WR: LaFell was one of the top receivers on the draft board heading into the combine, but likely fell a couple of spots due to average drills and a slow 40 time. LaFell might still be a solid NFL receiver, but he didn’t do anything to show he could one day be a number 1.
Jordan Shipley WR: Shipley had a lot of hype surrounding him entering the offseason. While no one thought he’d be a 1st or 2nd round talent, he seemed like a good bet to go in the 3rd round. He had a slow 40 time, and really struggled catching the ball in drills. He should slip into the 5th-6th round territory now.
Greg Hardy, Brandon Lang and George Selvie DE/OLB: At the beginning of this season all three of these guys looked like surefire Top 50 draft picks. As the season wore on though, they quickly fell down draft boards and needed impressive offseasons to boost their stock back up. All so far had seemingly started to move their way back up draft charts. Hardy especially was working his way back up after injuries derailed his career. Hardy had a pretty impressive East-West Shrine game week, and seemed in that 3rd-4th round range.
With a strong Combine he could work his way back into the 2nd round. Instead Hardy showed up overweight and had a slow 40 time, to go along with a meager bench press. He’s completely dropped the label of OLB due to his size, and is working on becoming just a 3-4 DE. There is still potential there so he might not fall too far, but he hurt his stock with this performance. Lang and Selvie are even worse cases as they didn’t weigh in nearly as much as Hardy yet couldn’t beat his 40 time. Lang could maybe transition to a 4-3 DE, and has some natural pass rush ability (though lacks the closing speed). Selvie on the other hand is in a lot of trouble. He isn’t big enough to hold up at the point of attack, and not athletic enough to convert to linebacker. He could fall all the way to the 7th round.
Jevan Snead QB: Snead has been much maligned for his decision to come out this year after his poor season, but he was the best quarterback in the drills. Snead’s workouts were impressive in their own right and would have been a winner even if all the quarterbacks threw. While he will still likely not hear his name called until the mid-rounds, Snead will be a very good quarterback for some team down the road.
Ryan Mathews RB: Though there were a couple good running backs at the Combine, Mathews stood out in every drill. He has solidified himself to go off the board anywhere from 20-35. He could very well be the most complete back in this draft.
Golden Tate WR: Tate is the perfect example of how the draft process can get screwy and have guys slip through the cracks. At the beginning of the year Tate was a 3rd-4th round prospect. Then when Micheal Floyd went down with injury and he still impressed, he was in the 2nd-3rd round range. Then there seemed to be some hype of him in the late 1st round- early 2nd when he declared. After that, his draft hype fell some to the mid-to-late 2nd round range (despite no more games being played). The perception of him falling was reinforced when he measured at 5’10”, when most people were hoping he’d be closer to 6′. Of course all of that was before Tate took the field. When he did, he was the most impressive prospect out there among receivers. He blew away the combine and put himself back in the discussion for late 1st round.
Bruce Campbell OT: Campbell had an amazing Combine and solidified his status as a first round pick. Overall he is a raw player which will keep him from being the top tackle taken. Even still Campbell showed all the tools necessary to become an elite pass blocker at the next level.
Trent Williams OT: Williams was another offensive tackle who was a mixed bag. At times he looked dominate and flashed the tools needed to be a great OT. Williams, like Campbell, won’t be the first offensive lineman to hear his name called, but moved himself up on some draft boards. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear his name called in the Top 15 picks.
Brandon Graham DE/OLB: Graham has dealt with questions about his height and speed this entire draft process. While he had been inching up draft boards, a lot of people had some concerns with him. Graham answered the questions about his speed with an excellent 40 time, and as for his height it never seemed to stop him from getting to the QB in college.
Taylor Mays and Eric Berry S: Berry had a great combine and would have been the most impressive, if not for Mays ridiculous combine. Berry solidified himself as the top safety on the board and will fall no further than the Browns at the 7th pick. Mays is built and has the athleticism of the late Sean Taylor, but can’t match his natural ball-hawking abilities. Even still Mays’ Combine was incredible, and proved that he was worthy of a 1st round pick. Whoever drafts him might need to get creative to ensure he doesn’t get exposed in coverage, but they are getting one heck of a football player.