By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
There are two broad aspects to scouting a prospect in any sport, which are their mental and physical makeup. Those two factors intersect to create what really matters: How well they play the game. This week in Indianapolis prospective players will be tested and evaluated until their potential employers are satisfied. And trust me those guys are beyond demanding.
Here is a look into who will come out of the fray looking like a million bucks, and who might lose millions with a poor showing.
Lighting in a Bottle: Fastest 40 Yard Dash
RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Ever since he was a freshman his mythical speed has been on display but since his game and draft stock are predicated almost entirely on that speed he needs to post a blazing time.
RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Look for the speedster to vault back up the rankings if he posts an impressive 40 time. Not sure why people are overlooking his speed, size and overall immense talent.
CB Bradley Roby
Roby had a mostly forgettable year but just like he was expected to cement his first round status coming back to school he’s expected to post a very low time.
RB Dri Archer
Not sure Archer is the explosive pure speed guy to trump the others mentioned but he’s very fast in his own right.
Whiz Kids: Best Wonderlic Results
OT John Urshcel, Penn St
The winner of the “Academic Heisman” who graduated in three years with a 4.0 GPA, is working on a master’s in mathematics and taught a class called Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry is the favorite to be the first prospect to ace the Wonderlic in over 50 years.
DT Caraun Reid, Princeton
Princeton grad, enough said right?
Positional Studs: Who is the Most Athletically Gifted at Each Position
DT RaShede Hageman, Minnesota
Hageman’s freakish athleticism is well documented but his performance will still surprise some scouts who haven’t seen him play. Look for him to be among the top performers among defensive tackles at every discipline but the fact he’ll probably destroy the bench press and run a super quick 40 for a tackle highlights his all around athleticism.
DE Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina
This guy is the definition of a freak. His athletic dominance is that of legends so I’ll keep this short, but even with such lofty expectations Clowney could still steal the show. He should be one of the fastest defensive linemen ever (possibly by a wide margin) but also post a Jordan like vertical.
OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Mack might not play for a well known college program but the scouting community knows the man quite well. At the outside linebacker spot no other prospect brings not only the physical skill set of speed, explosiveness and strength to the table. On the field his aggressiveness and ferocity is shocking so in addition to his athletic ability you know he’ll be in Indy for one reason: to compete.
ILB Christian Jones, Florida St.
Chris Borland was a mention on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List but his lack of height still prevents him from being the overall combine stud at inside linebacker. The Seminole defense has a host of incredibly impressive prospects and many of them are straddling positions at the next level (Telvin Smith, Terrence Brooks, Lamarcus Joyner). Among them is Christian Jones, a tall and well built linebacker who might not have the burst or pure speed to be an edge player but looks every bit the part of an inside linebacker in the new NFL covering tight ends down the field.
CB Louchiez Purifoy, Florida
There are a host of impressive prospects at maybe the most athletically demanding position in football and Purifoy checks all the boxes on the list. Height, length, speed, fluid agility and body control are all elite for the Gator. Justin Gilbert is a very close second and could pass Darqueze Dennard for the top corner prospect if the two’s results at the combine are as divergent as they could be.
S Terrence Brooks, Florida St.
The safety class is headlined by two clear cut favorites in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor and could be the hardest to predict a combine “winner” of any position. One possibility is Terrence Brooks who was a two way player in high school and a former corner at FSU. That corner speed and agility are now even more in demand at his new position of safety.
QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Bortles was called the prototype NFL quarterback by Todd McShay but Thomas is the fantasy scenario. Sure he lacks consistent accuracy and the basic feel for playing the position but when nothing other than physical traits are emphasized he will shine the brightest. He’s big, strong and overall superior athlete (he is a former tight end remember) at the QB position.
RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
While Jeremy Hill is the most talented back in the class, Seastrunk is the more flashy athlete. The 210 pound Baylor Bear has a thick lower half that allows him to power through tackles but its almost unfair against air. I personally can’t really picture a man with his frame running a 4.3 40 as it’s often done by gravely undersized receivers like Marquise Goodwin but word is he could even outrun De’Anthony Thomas. That size speed combination will steal the show in Indy.
WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
It’s not often one of the most explosive college football players is the second best athlete at his position, but even Sammy Watkins isn’t more of a freak athletically than Martavis Bryant. 6’4, long arms 200 pounds is the prototype measureables of a dominant NFL receiver and when you’re expected to run in the 4.4 range you have it all. Bryant isn’t a first round choice because he is still very raw around the edges but he could work his way up draft boards after the physical tools are showcased this weekend.
TE Eric Ebron, UNC
The tight end position will have a few prospects that really stand out in glorified underwear. Among them is Troy Niklas who stands 6’6 270 pounds and if we were talking about who would make the biggest jump from their appearance in Indy would take the cake at this position. Ebron is already the most highly sought after tight end and his speed, change of direction ability and vertical leaping will only help his cause.
OL Greg Robinson, Auburn
Like his Auburn Tiger team Robinson has gone from a respected presence to the cream of the crop. A mauling run blocker the massive left tackle has enjoyed a meteoric rise up boards. It’s not just the physicality and road grading ability that intrigues scouts but his fluidity for such a big man is impressive and will be front and center as he competes against Jake Matthews for the top offensive tackle prospect.
Who Needs a Big Week:
OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
Richardson, nicknamed “Tiny”, is anything but small but with his hulking frame comings less than ideal foot speed and lateral agility that may very well require a shift inside to guard. With that switch comes a demotion in grade and pay, something he’ll look to avoid. The short shuttle and three cone drill will be vital if he’s to prove he can mirror guys like Cameron Wake and Von Miller and not just overpower them.
ATH De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Yes he can fly but he has to in order to maximize his draft position. While I might actually prefer him to a guy like Tavon Austin who was a top ten pick last year, no team will take a player with such a slim frame unless he is a blazer. Thomas will be under a lot of pressure to impress scouts since his lax attitude and iffy durability were red flags this year.
CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St
Dennard’s tape against Notre Dame sheds light into why his 40 time will be overemphasized in Indy. He was often in terrific position, and was especially good at trailing his man from tight coverage. However, he was very handsy and grabbed jersey too often getting called for PI twice and could have easily been hit with it more. If he disappoints his stock could really drop as teams will wonder whether or not he can really be counted on to lock down on an island like his “No Fly Zone” moniker suggests.
CB Bradley Roby, Ohio St
Roby’s decision to come back for a final year at Ohio St. has not turned out well getting in an off field skirmish and underperforming his high standard of play a year ago. I don’t see the blazing 4.3 on tape but that doesn’t mean the talk of him being among the fastest players in Indy is inaccurate. If he can lock down a low time he could start to revive his first round potential.
DT Will Sutton, Arizona St
The question marks for weight are a result of confusion on how Sutton will weigh in. In 2012 he was a quick penetrator at 288 pounds then ballooned to 310 in part to satisfy scouts who thought he’d be too small to be a successful NFL player. How he weighs in and looks at that weight will really drive how high he goes in May.
Who Can’t Lose:
CB Pierre Desir, Linderwood
A small school stud, Desir doesn’t need to run fast to have the Seahawk prototype at corner with his long arms and height. Plus he is sure to impress during interviews where a lot of guys could hurt themselves.
TE Xavier Grimble, USC
I know his entire prospectus is based on being athletic and filled with potential but he is built like a rock and his presence without a shirt alone could boost his stock a few rounds. In addition to that build he moves well and could be the hybrid athlete teams want in a tight end.