NFL Combine

With the 8th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Raiders select…

The scouting combine is now complete, which means one thing: Al Davis has his pick ready to go.

Or at least he will whenever he gets around to reading the 40 times.

Its comical that an organization worth over three-quarters of a billion dollars could be run by such an incompetent individual. Yet every year Al Davis amazes us with his draft blunders.

He’s enamored by the biggest, strongest and fastest players with little regard for their actually ability on the football field. As a result, the scouting combine has essentially become a glorified tryout for the Raiders. The players who rate at the top of their position instantly shoot up Davis’ draft board. Which means that on March 3 we can already narrow down the Raiders potential targets in the 1st round to three names…

2010 NFL Combine - Day Three

Jason Pierre-Paul works out at the combine

3. Bruce Campbell
Watch Campbell at the combine, and he looks like a top-10 pick. Watch him on film, and he looks like a 4th-rounder. That can only mean one thing: Al Davis will love him. Its hard to imagine anyone selecting Campbell in the top seven, meaning he’s all but guaranteed to be on the board for Davis at No. 8. Couple Campbell’s combine performance with the fact that the Raiders are desperate for an upgrade over Mario Henderson at left tackle, and you have the perfect scenario for another Raiders draft debacle.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul
Unlike Campbell, I don’t think this pick would be an unmitigated disaster. The Raiders have done a nice job developing defensive talent in recent years, and Pierre-Paul may have the highest ceiling of any defensive lineman in this year’s draft. His size/speed combination is unmatched by any other defensive linemen in this year’s draft class and he would be an excellent compliment to Richard Seymour on Oakland’s defensive line. The downside to selecting JPP is that he is as raw as they come, with just one year of experience at the D-I level. But when has that ever stopped Al Davis?

1. Taylor Mays
I first matched Mays up with the Raiders in my first 2010 mock draft back in August. Knowing that the Raiders would be selecting in the top 10 and that Mays was sure to impress at the combine it seemed like a match made in heaven. The only thing that may discourage Davis from selecting Mays is the fact that he selected a similar player (in terms of raw physical ability) in the 2nd round last year in Michael Mitchell.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Raiders 1 Comment

Losers from the Scouting Combine

2010 NFL Combine - Day Two

McCluster runs the 40-yard dash

Dexter McCluster – RB – Mississippi
Undersized running backs and receivers need to impress in the 40-yard dash to boost their draft stock and McCluster fell well below expectations. His 4.58 was roughly two tenths of a second slower than expected and certainly raises some concerns. A big part of his draft stock is his ability to contribute in the return game, which requires more straight-line speed than any other aspect of the game.

Dan LeFevour – QB – Central Michigan
LeFevour’s ego is no secret to those who have followed his college career, but it far exceeded expectations this weekend. Despite having a 2nd/3rd round grade at best, LeFevour opted not to throw in Indy, which angered more than a few scouts. It could be argued that he had the most to prove, as he would have been the most highly-touted prospect throwing at the combine. He blew an opportunity to move up the draft boards, and may have actually fallen down some boards without even picking up a football.

Dez Bryant – WR – Oklahoma State
Often times players hurt themselves more during the interview process at the combine than during the actual drills. Bryant would certainly fall into that category. He reportedly hasn’t impressed teams with his explanation for his suspension and has come across as very immature and not very intelligent. It doesn’t take a whole lot of brains to play wide receiver, so it shouldn’t end up impacting his stock drastically, but it could cause a couple teams to think twice.

Brandon Spikes – ILB – Florida
Spikes decided not to run in Indy, which didn’t come as a surprise considering he’s viewed as one of the slower linebackers in this year’s draft class. Even though it was expected, you hate to see a player back out for those reasons. It won’t kill his draft stock, but the decision certainly rubbed some teams the wrong way.

Rolando McClain – ILB – Alabama
McClain also elected not to work out in Indy, but his late scratch came as a surprise. His agent announced that McClain has been nursing a hamstring injury since the national championship game. The only problem with that excuse is that its the first time he’s mentioned it to anyone. Just recently he had stated that he was training in Florida, but made no mention of any injury. Whenever players make a last-minute decision to skip the combine it raises some concerns about their competitiveness. Sometimes its more the agent’s fault than the player’s, but the true competitors will get onto the field no matter what. Like Spikes, this won’t destroy his stock but it could certainly cause a few teams to knock him down a few spots on their draft board.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Winners from the Scouting Combine

2010 NFL Combine - Day Two

Golden Tate runs the 40-yard dash

Golden Tate – WR – Notre Dame
Tate’s place in the draft was pretty much set in the late 1st/early 2nd round prior to the combine. No one (including Tate, himself) was expecting anything special in the 40-yard dash. But Tate wowed scouts with an official time of 4.42, – 4th best among receivers. Some scouts even timed him under the 4.4 mark. Tate’s game isn’t really about straight-line speed, but the impressive time should solidify his place somewhere in the top 40 picks.

Dorin Dickerson – TE – Pittsburgh
There was no question as to who was the most athletic tight end working out this weekend as Dickerson posted the fastest 40 time, the highest vertical leap and the longest broad jump at his position. And he further helped his stock by putting up the bench press 24 times – 4th most among tight ends. While he’s clearly an elite athlete, the fact that he only weight in at 6’1″, 226 pounds may necessitate a most to fullback. Regardless, he should come off the board in the top 100 picks.

Bruce Campbell – OT – Maryland
As expected, Campbell proved to be the most impressive physical specimen of the offensive linemen. One scout even went so far as to say he has the most impressive body he had ever seen. The downside to Campbell’s performance is that he’s now been slapped with the “workout warrior” label, which carries more negative connotations than positive ones. His collegiate production doesn’t warrant 1st-round consideration, but his workouts will likely land him a spot among the top 32 picks.

Trent Williams – OT – Oklahoma
While Campbell was the most impressive physical specimen among the offensive linemen, Williams may have been the most pleasantly surprising prospect. He was just .03 seconds behind Campbell in the 40, and actually out-performed Campbell in the vertical leap and the 20-yard shuttle. Entering the combine some had speculated that he may not have the athleticism to play left tackle. His performance should ease those concerns.

Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – South Florida
Due to his one year of experience at the D-I level, Pierre-Paul’s combine performance carried a little more weight than it does for most prospects. Since there’s little tape out there on JPP, scouts were looking forward to seeing how he stacked up amongst the more experienced linemen. He lived up to the hype, and appeared to have the most impressive blend of size and speed out of the defensive ends.

Tony Washington – OT – Abilene Christian
Washington was measured at 6’6″ with an arm length of 35.5 inches. Arm length is an underrated physical attribute that plays a key role in a lineman’s ability to keep defenders from getting into his chest, and Washington was among a handful that measure in at longer than 35 inches. Physically, he looks the part of an NFL left tackle. He further helped his stock with solid performances on the bench press and in the three-come drill. He comes with some character concerns, but physically he appears to have what it takes to succeed at the next level.

Tim Tebow – QB – Florida
I discussed Tebow’s performance at length yesterday, but its worth mentioning again. Most scouts expected Tebow to perform well and he lived up to expectations. If he plays quarterback, his workout numbers won’t matter much. But his performance definitely showed that he has the athleticism to play another position should he chose to go that route sometime in the future.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Did Tim Tebow help himself at the combine?

I’ve tried not to talk too much about Tim Tebow this offseason. He probably won’t be drafted higher than the mid-2nd round and no prospect in that range deserves the attention that Tebow receives from the major media outlets. But I do feel the need to address his performance at the combine on Sunday.

2010 NFL Combine - Day TwoTebow elected not to throw in Indy, but I believe he still managed to  improve his stock.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Tebow is whether or not he could be used as wild-cat quarterback. His supporters point to his impressive athleticism. His detractors point to his mediocre speed.

While Tebow’s 4.72 40-yard dash wasn’t anything special, he showed off his athleticism in a number of other drills. I was most impressed by his 3-cone drill, which is actually a much better gauge of a player’s in-game speed and agility than the 40-yard dash. Tebow’s 6.66 time in the cones  was tops among quarterbacks by .3 seconds, and was the best time among quarterbacks dating back to 2000. For comparison sake, Jahvid Best, who led all running backs in the 3-cone drill, was timed a 6.75.

Tebow also impressed with a 38.5 vertical leap. While its not a drill that directly relates to his in-game performance, it does demonstrate his explosiveness. An impressive vertical usually translates to above average quickness, as Tebow demonstrated in his other drills.

While I’m still skeptical about Tebow’s future as a quarterback. I have to admit he just may find a role in the wild cat sooner rather than later. He has the size of a fullback, but his quickness and explosiveness is far more impressive than any of the NFL’s current short-yardage backs.

While Tebow still has hopes of playing quarterback, as well he should, after seeing him work out I definitely feel as though he has a future in the NFL at another position should he ever chose to go that route. Given his versatility, athleticism and intangibles, he should be a lock to come off the board in the top 100 picks regardless of how his new throwing motion looks at his pro day.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 1 Comment

Dexter McCluster disappoints in the 40

Diminutive Ole Miss running back/receiver Dexter McCluster ran an extremely disappointing 4.58 forty-yard dash today. According to Daniel Jeremiah of the MoveTheSticks.com no one had him clocked at faster than a 4.57.

40 times rarely hurt a player significantly, but for a guy who measured in a 5’9″, 172 pounds, this is a huge blow to his stock.

2010 NFL Combine - Day TwoSome skeptics argue that the 40-yard dash is irrelevant because football players rarely run 40 yards in a straight line. But if there’s one position where it definitely does matter its return specialists. Part of the intrigue to McCluster is his potential as a kick/punt returner, potentially in the mold of a Darren Sproles. But few, if any, elite return specialists were timed below 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

To be fair, there’s no question that McCluster plays faster than his timed speed. His 40 time was comparable to Toby Gerhart, but no one would argue that Gerhart has the same game-speed as McCluster.

It will be interesting to see how McCluster rebounds at his pro day on March 23. A sub-4.5 time would certainly ease the concerns about his speed, but its difficult to imagine a drastic improvement. Even if he does show a improve, he’ll then have to answer question about why he wasn’t prepared for the combine.

Following his impressive performance in the Cotton Bowl, I had been saying that McCluster deserved to be a 2nd round pick. He was rated at No. 60 on our pre-combine big board.

Its safe to say we’ll be dropping him to a 3rd round grade after his performance at the combine.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 2 Comments

10 Players Who Should Put on a Show at the Combine

10. Taylor Mays S USCCFB: Notre Dame vs USC NOV 29 Mays will put on a show, we know that for certain, but will anyone care? We know he’s fast. We know he’s strong. We know he can jump out of the gym. Expectations for Mays’ performance are so high that will be almost impossible to live up to the hype. Even if he does, there are enough skeptics out there that it may not help his stock. Unless Al Davis grabs him in the top 10 that is…

9. Jared Odrick DT Penn State For an interior lineman, Odrick is a chiseled athlete. Unlike most tackles, Odrick isn’t carrying around too much excess weight; he’s 300 pounds of muscle. He should be one of the faster interior linemen in Indy and should also show off some impressive strength. His blend of strength and athleticism make him a perfect fit at defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

8. Everson Griffen DE USC Griffen is overshadowed by the elite athletes at the defensive end position (Pierre-Paul, Dunlap, Morgan, etc) but he’s no stiff. At 6’3″ and roughly 280 pounds, Griffen could open some eyes if he runs in the 4.6 range in the 40. It’s tough to call anyone from USC “underrated” but Griffen may be just that. He’s more athletic that he gets credit for, and should prove that at the combine.

7. Mike Iupati OG Idaho Iupati may not be the most athletic player in Indy, but his brute strength is sure to catch the eye of scouts. He’s already solidified his place in the 1st round, but his performance on the bench press may further improve his stock. Teams that are looking for a power run blocker will keep a close eye on him all week.

Ole Misss Dexter McCluster in the AT&T Cotton Bowl6. Dexter McCluster RB/WR Mississippi
All eyes will be on McCluster when he lines up for the 40-yard dash. He’s expected to run in the 4.3 range, and it could crack the 4.2 barrier. He’ll likely do some drills as a receiver and a running back, giving him ample opportunities to impress teams with his versatility.

5. Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
Hernandez doesn’t have the height of an elite tight end (he’s only 6’2″) but he may be the most athletic player at the position to enter the draft since Vernon Davis. He has the skills of an over-sized receiver and should be one of the standouts at Indy – especially if Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski are unable to work out.

4. Austen Lane DE Murray State
A little-known defensive end from Murray State could be the star of the combine. At 6’6″, 267 pounds he clearly has the size to take his game to the next level. What scouts want to see, however, is how he stacks up athletically with the premiere prospects. With an impressive performance, he could skyrocket up the draft boards.

3. Chad Jones S LSU
In any other year we’d be talking about Jones as the premiere athlete at the safety position. He’s overshadowed by Taylor Mays, but don’t sleep on Jones. He is every bit as physically gifted as Mays and many believe he may be a better all-round football player. If he matches Mays’ workout numbers, Jones could make a run at being the second safety off the board.

2. Jared Veldheer OT Hillsdale
Teams are always looking for a sleeper to step up and show he has the athleticism to play left tackle in the pros. This year Jared Veldheer could be the beneficiary of the NFL’s obsession with left tackles. Much like Sebastian Vollmer climbed from unknown to 2nd-round pick in 2009, Veldheer could do the same with an impressive workout this week.

1. Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida
Last year at this time Pierre-Paul hadn’t even set foot on a D-I football field. Now he’s a potential top-10 pick. He’s as raw as the come, but has the pure athleticism to make scouts drool. He should easily rank among the top defensive linemen in every drill at the combine.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 4 Comments