2014 NFL Draft: Combine Preview

For all the chatter Jadeveon Clowney is a physical marvel and will likely be smiling after showcasing his unreal athleticism in Indy (Photo: US Presswire)

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

Defense:

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
6’5 274

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
6’3 248

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.
6’4 235

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
6’0 190

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.
5’11 200

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.

Offense:

QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
6’6 250

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
5’9 210

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
6’4 200

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
6’4 245

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
6’5 320

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
6’6 327

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
5’9 169

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
5’11 197

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
5’11 192

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
6’0 ???

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
6’1 197

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
6’5 255

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.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Combine. 2014 NFL Combine, Bradley Roby, Caraun Reid, De'Anthony Thomas, Jadeveon Clowney, John Urschel, Khalil Mack, Terrence Brooks

17 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft: Combine Preview”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    Mr. Sluis, Do you think Dri Archer is fast enough now!

  2. acm says:

    Impressive showing for WR John Brown (Pitt State). Blazing fast 40 – 4.30s (unofficial) and a sure handed receiver; well balanced and smooth route runner. Very much a TY Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders type player, who’d probably make for a good K/P returner too. Would come in handy if Edelman were to leave.
    Imagine he would be available in 5th round or so even if he is likely flying up boards right now.

    Pretty good deep route running and tracking of the ball by Martavis Bryant.

  3. russell says:

    TE’s did not show well, Arthur Lynch was as expected, size, speed, bench alittle better, I guy I still think is a Patriot and moved up my board. My first 4 picks in the draft;

    CB -Kyle Fuller
    TE- Arthur Lynch
    LB- Shayne Skov
    S – Ed Reynolds

    • acm says:

      Russ E. is that you? kind of confusing with the changing nick and all ;)

      I agree on Arthur Lynch that he performed as expected but I think he basically confirmed himself as a solid 4th round pick at TE and someone I think would attract attention from the Pats.
      May be surprising for people but CJF had a very good 40 time, better than Lynch, and posted the best times in the agility/quickness drills (3-cone and short shuttle) of all TEs yesterday (noting that ASJ didn’t perform at all, while the more athletic players like Ebron, Leonard, Layerla didn’t perform those drills, for some reason).
      All things considered – sure hands, catch radius, blocking, etc – I think CJF is the better (not spectacular but solid) player of the two and with the Ferentz connection, I think would be on the Pats list, as well. I think he is a late 3rd, early 4th round player.

      I was a bit disappointed by Amaro’s 40 but thought he had a solid outing, although not as good as I expected he would. He may have dropped himself to late 1st, early 2nd now. ASJ is probably a solid 2nd right about now.

      Either way, to get those players you mentioned, I think this order would give the best chance to land them all:

      1 – Fuller; 2 – Reynolds (unless he bombs the combine today); 3 – Skov; 4 – Lynch.

      just my 2 cents anyway.

      • russell says:

        Yes AMC it’s me, I agree TE Lynch could be a 4th, I like Reynolds, and Skov, but think CB Fuller is the #1 guy the Patriots go after. Everyone on the planet thinks Bill will go TE early, I don’t think so 3d-4th round.
        Also a 7th round guy I like; LB Tana Patrick 6’2″ 240 runs a 4.56 40yd. He played alot of special teams for 5 years, and backed up, C.J.Mosley, and Hightower at Alabama. Very smart player, Fits the Patriot way.

  4. Joe Blake says:

    Disappointed with combine tight ends. CJF did not impress as advertised, I may be missing something here. Amaro was revealed as a 2nd rounder. Colt L. is a Hernandez clone: scarey but wort a 4th round or later risk. CJF in 3rd? I like the kid from ND, Niklas, contrary to reports on his lack of agility. Regarding OL: A lot of choices here. I would even take a chance on the K-man from Alabama.

  5. acm says:

    Any chance for the pats to switch 1st rounders with the Vikings for Mallett and Bequette (as a replacement for J. Allen)? Would love to give Khalil Mack a crack at that 8th pick, if he’s even there.
    A guy can dream, right? ;)

    • Kenny G. says:

      A guy can dream, right? ;)

      YES, I love the dream as that really might be the best way to move Mallett.

      Switch a 2nd (62) with Hous an get a 4th rd pick for him or switch with Minn.

      Why they do it, they still get to keep a 2nd rd pick…. DREAM ON!!!!

    • Matt says:

      Why should we pick Mack at the 8 spot if we made this trade. We have a good outside linebacker in Collins. If we had the 8th pick we should draft nix or tuitt.

      • acm says:

        Because neither of those two are top 10 and even top 5 players. They are both good, even very good players but none of them is the type of high-impact player that just takes over a game. That’s who you take at #8.

        Regarding Nix, I think it’s time for the Pats to move away from big fat pluggers in the middle that don’t offer much of a push and are gassed and useless after 30 snaps or so. Ideally, they’d go for more athletic players there of the type of Red Bryant or Linval Joseph, who are still stout vs the run but disrupt the pocket too.

        As for Tuitt, he has the physical tools and then some but lacks consistent aggression and impact in his play, especially vs the run. There is a reason why he is graded as a late 1st and even a 2nd round prospect.

        Neither Tuitt nor Nix are the type of players that take over a game and that’s the type of player Mack is – an all around playmaker with power, aggression and effort to spare. It doesn’t matter how many guys you may have at that position, he is the type of player you just take if he’s still on the board.
        And he provides positional flexibility similar to that Collins does – from being a speed-rusher type DE to playing a MLB dropping in coverage; plus Ninkovic isn’t gonna be around for much longer anyway.

        • Matt says:

          Whats wrong with Rob N?

        • acm says:

          His age. he’s 30 yo already and will be closing in on 31 next season. Not being a very explosive player in general, it’s reasonable to expect that his production may take a dip sooner rather than later.

          Another reason why the Pats could use help on rushing the passer is to take pressure and snaps off jones and ninko – that way they would be fresher and more productive during the course of a game, as opposed to lose effectiveness with 1-2 quarters left.

        • Pete H. says:

          Ninkovich just got an extension, and as a left defensive end, he is excellent against the run and provides some pass rush. What the Patriots need is a 3rd DE that specializes in rushing the passer so they can sub Ninkovich on 3rd down, maybe moves Jones to the left side. They don’t need a 3-down guy – they need a 3rd down guy.

        • acm says:

          extensions and contracts mean very little in the NFL e.g. Red Bryant is about to get cut loose by the Seahawks and he signed a 5 year deal in 2012 with them. And taht’s just one of many examples. Wouldn’t be shocked one bit if 2014 is Ninko’s last with the Pats – it all depends on his on-field production and the cap.

          So, what happens if Ninko or C. Jones gets injured? Again wait till next year? It wouldn’t hurt one bit to have a 3rd down guy who is also a 3-down guy and can also play OLB/ILB. Never heard of Belichick complain about a player being too versatile.

        • Pete H. says:

          You’re right that it wouldn’t hurt to have a guy that can fill in at a very high level if one of your starters go down, but it might not be the best allocation of draft resources is all. Always better to have a better player, the trick is figuring out which players and positions to target that will have the greatest impact in terms of making the team win more games. I’d like to see them fill a starting lineup with impact players as much as possible, and then build depth options that are mostly cheap, can have situational impact, and create a balance of reliable players that are healthy and provide a good enough floor (like Siliga), rookies that are being groomed for larger roles later in the season or the following season (like Collins), along with a few riskier players with higher upside that have the potential to make a big impact but aren’t necessarily reliable (like Edelman – came with injury flags). If you can get impact players as depth as well, I’ll never complain, but that’s typically hard to do.

        • acm says:

          we are in agreement with just about everything. Maybe I didn’t express myself clearly enough before – I wasn’t suggesting to spend such an early pick on Mack with the intention that he would be just a depth player but that he would be a long term starter with the team. Maybe initially he could be used as the 3rd pass rusher but that would be only until his role increases and he works his way into the starting formation, as the season progresses. He is good not only rushing the passer but vs the run too and Seattle for instance use DEs of Macks size and abilities as 3-down ends. And due to his versatility, splitting snaps with Ninko and Jones is just one of a number of ways he could be out there on the field even in his rookie year. After that, for all we know, Ninko’s role would start to decrease, if he is even on the team.

          Either way, that’s just a hypothetical scenario there’s probably no point even dreaming about.

  6. acm says:

    I expect Quarles and Tuitt to give Hageman a run for his money in the speed and quickness drills. All three are very athletic players coming in at their ideal weight, imo. Donald is still at 285 lbs, so he should test very well too but may well drop him out of the 1st.

    From the DE/OLB bunch, I would be curious to see how J. Attouchu, D. Lawrence and Sam perform. The first too are in the mold of Collins (or speed rushers like Clemons and Avril), while Sam and Ford look like situational pass-rushers and possibly OLBs ala Mathis and Freeney.

    A. Richardson did fine in the 40 but I think he may have hurt his stock by skipping the agility/quickness drills, iirc. Kuandjio was the opposite – sucked in the 40 but did more than fine in the 3-cone and short shuttle.
    Imo, they both should be in the conversation for LT in the NFL but not players I would consider franchise LTs and probably not 1st rounders either (unless you are really desperate for a half decent LT).

    As for the CBs, Roby, if healthy should run the fastest 40 with players like Fuller, Purifoy and Gaines to fight it out for 2nd, I think. Fuller and Gaines are high-character guys and can really solidify their stock – 1st round for Fuller, 2-to-early 3rd for Gaines. McGill should be the most athletic of the 6’1″+ Dbs and expect him to become a lock for the 2nd round.

    Martavis Bryant arrived 10 or so lbs heavier at the combine and now measures at 210 lbs, which I think is his ideal weight. He was a bit top heavy even at 200, so hopefully for him that extra mass went to his mid and lower sections for improved explosiveness, body control and overall balance. If so, I think he can run the 40 in the low 4.30s.






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