NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Players are set to arrive in Indianapolis in a week for one of my favorite events of the year, the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.
The combine is great to establish what you may or may not already know. The 40 time is the most well known portion of the combine and I do see value in it. Granted, players aren’t running in pads and likely won’t have to run 40 yards in a straight line, but it does help to gauge comparisons between players.
Every year there is one workout warrior who wows scouts and usually winds up getting drafted way too high by the Oakland Raiders. There’s also usually a couple players who show up in less than stellar shape or aren’t as fast as teams and analysts had them pegged who can fall.
Today I’m looking at some of the players participating in the 2012 NFL Combine to see who has the most to gain/lose.
Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
Thomas has a lot to prove just to get drafted. There’s a relatively short period of time between the season ending and the combine to get comfortable under center and show that you can survive in a pro-style offense. Thomas was also such a surprise addition to the Draft that many teams likely weren’t looking at him as hard as many other QBs during the college season.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
I already think that Tannehill will be drafted in the first round, but if he can work out well, it could inspire a team to trade up for him, potentially into the top five. The former WR won’t have many chances to impress as he won’t be throwing, but he will be participating in interviews.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
Some scouts, like my colleague Mike Loyko, weren’t overly impressed with Polk at the Senior Bowl. I wasn’t at the weigh in, but apparently his body looked soft. Straight line speed isn’t the most important aspect of a running back’s game, but a 40 time in the low 4.5/high 4.4 range could certainly boost his stock back into the first round.
Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida
Speed, speed, speed, that seems like it’s about half of what the combine is all about. Chris Rainey told us at the Senior Bowl that he wanted to run a 4.1 40. That’s not going to happen, but if he comes even close to Chris Johnson’s record, he’ll rise on draft boards, if he runs in the 4.4s, he won’t offer as much to teams and he’ll likely merely be a project slot receiver.
Marvin Jones, WR, Cal
My favorite prospect in this draft told me he ran a 4.44 electric timed 40 this weekend “with a bad start” in preparation for the combine. If that number holds true, he could vault himself even higher, potentially into the middle of the second round. If that speed isn’t there, teams might lose a bit of interest, but I’m sure they’ll still be impressed with his hands during WR drills.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon is already a player some sites seem to be souring on and there have been some questions about his speed. I’ve seen the name “Anquan Boldin” thrown around in comparison with Blackmon, and if his 40 time is similar to Boldin’s 4.72, I find it highly doubtful Blackmon still goes top 5.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
One of Jeffery’s biggest issues is his conditioning questions. He’s a big presence, but teams will have to be careful not to let him get too big. If Jeffery comes to the combine is anything less than stellar shape, teams will take notice.
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Quick showed some nice improvement at the Senior Bowl, but he’ll have to continue that progress to show that he belongs with this talented class during the combine drills. I have questions about Quick’s speed, so I’ll definitely be watching his 40 time carefully.
LaDarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette
Green’s game is based off of his receiving ability, and being slightly undersized at 230 lbs, he’ll need to show off some impressive speed. I’ll also be looking carefully at him during the receiving portion of the TE drills. Green could fit the bill of the WR/TE hybrid in the mold of Aaron Hernandez or Jermichael Finley if he can prove he has the skills.
Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
I’ll be paying special attention to Datko at the combine in the OL drills. My biggest complaint about Datko is his technique. He’s a “waist bender” and can lose balance and lose his defender because of that. If he can prove that he’s training to show off better technique, he could rise in a weak tackle class.
Click on page 2 for the defenders with the most to gain or lose.