NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
The Combine has come and gone, and another piece to the draft puzzle has been placed, giving us all a clearer picture of who and what these prospects are all about. Here are a few observations I had from watching the tests and the drills.
I am such a draft nerd. I can say that here, because I figure if you are on this site reading this, then you to probably fit in that category somewhere. I had something come up that did not allow me to watch the Combine live, so instead of getting on my phone and getting the information that way, I went in the other direction and went into internet silence for a few days. Finally, over the past few days, I was able to power watch the entire Combine and can finally start talking about it. Here are some things that caught my attention from the Combine position by position.
I had the good fortune of knowing about Tom Brady’s extension prior to watching this group, so I actually paid a little more attention. I normally would have glossed over them, but there is at least a possibility now that another young QB could be brought into the mix. I still feel it is a position that would only be addressed late in the Draft, but I have a few guys that intrigue me. The first is a guy I have been high on all year-Brandon Allen out of Arkansas. I know his measurables are not great, but on tape, I saw a guy who threw with anticipation and accuracy. Sounds familiar, right? I know he is not Tom Brady, but his style of play fits the Patriots system and I think he could be a quality back up. The other guy I am intrigued with is Josh Woodrum from Liberty. I really like his size and on the limited tape you could see good arm strength and his ability to throw guys open rather than throwing when they were open. He is a developmental guy who may not be drafted but has some tools to work with.
I have done probably 2 dozen mock drafts over at first-pick (fun site if you have never done it) and I think in every draft, I have chosen Tyler Ervin, the RB out of San Jose State somewhere on Day 3. To me, he is Shane Vereen with a little more power to run up the middle. He may not a lead back, but he could be a nice piece to the RB puzzle. Daniel Lasco put up some good numbers at the Combine and is a guy that I need to go watch. Brandon Wilds is another guy I have not been exposed to yet, but he had a good combine as well and I want to go see what his tape looks like. Injuries are a major concern, but Keith Marshall is another guy I want to watch more. I was a little disappointed with Alex Collins. On tape, I saw more initial burst than his combine numbers indicate. I still like him for the Patriots and maybe now he can be had a little later than I have him ranked. Kelvin Taylor did not have a great combine in my opinion.
As a whole, this group really disappointed. Sterling Shepherd did not do as well as I expected in the agility drills, but showed good speed and explosion in the others. Braxton Miller ran slower than I expected, but really did well in the agility drills. I don’t think Josh Doctson makes it to the Patriots, but he had a good day overall and the tape backs it up. He is my #2 WR in this class and it is closer than I expected. Jalin Marshall is a guy I have to go watch more. He got lost in the shuffle at Ohio State but checked all the boxes the Patriots look for in a WR. He might be an option later in the draft as well. I am not sure De’Runnya Wilson can be drafted after his performance in Indy last week. He looked bad in the testing and in the drills. It may have been the worst performance of anyone.
From a physical standpoint, my guy, Tyler Higbee checked all the boxes but was unable to work out because he is recovering from injury. This could be a good thing because a healthy Higbee probably would have tested off the charts and any chances of drafting him would have gone out the door. I was not expecting the performance we got from Austin Hooper. I thought he was good at everything, but not great at anything. He showed more athleticism than I would have thought. David Morgan and Ben Braunecker are 2 guys I have not seen at all, but both tested really well and looked good in drills. Thomas Duarte is a bit undersized, but looked like an athletic pass catching option on tape that tested well.
This is another group that underwhelmed me. The thought of Jason Spriggs falling to the Patriots probably went out the door with his performance. Tyler Johnstone is a guy I mentioned awhile back that I liked, but had been forgotten guy because of the injuries. He may be a later round option that could be a steal. Joe Haeg is a guy I wrote up as well and he too had a nice combine and could put himself into Day 2 discussion. I thought John Theus tested well, but I need to watch more tape on him.
I thought this was a pretty good group overall. Depending on what the team feels about the young guys they drafted recently, this may not be a position that is addressed. I really liked what I saw from Washington State’s Joe Dahl. He tested well and looked really athletic in the drills. He comes from that air raid offense, but he seems to have the physical tools to be a good player in the NFL. Darrell Greene is a guy I need to study because he had a nice combine I thought. Josh Garnett did as well, but I don’t think there is any chance he falls to 60. Max Tuerk did not work out, but did get measured and I was a little disappointed with his arm length. With 32 1/2″ arms, my idea of having him move out to Tackle may not be possible.
So there you have it. That is what I saw from the offensive players at the Combine. Look back shortly as I get my notes out for the defensive players. As always, please follow me on Twitter @midwestpatsfan.