Combine thoughts and observations: Offense

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.

QB’s:

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.

RB’s:

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.

WR’s:

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.

TE’s:

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.

OT’s:

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.

OG’s/OC’s:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Responses to “Combine thoughts and observations: Offense”

  1. Gerry says:

    AS to OG… There are several LARGE but slow OG. Several of them are worth a late 3rd of day-3 consideration. There at also 2-3 “listed as OT” options that will play OG at the next level, but they could be OT backups in an emergency.

    Ex: Le’Raven Clark, Spencer Drango, Willie Beavers, Brandon Shell,

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    QB Brandon Doughty-WKU is generating quite a bit of buzz based on his arm talent and was the most efficient QB in college football this season, with improvement every year of his college career. According to Gil Brandt, Brandon would be in the conversation among the top QBs in this draft, had he run in the 4.8s in the 40yds as opposed to 5.2s. Another QB we all know, ran in the 5.2s but he has 4SB titles to his credit and evaluators slept on this guy also.

  3. J H TARBORO says:

    At the Baltimore regional combine WR/KR Wendall Williams-U.of the Cumberlands Kentucky recently set the record in the 40yrs at 4.19 vert. 45″ Williams is the NAIA long jump champion and 100/200m sprinter.

  4. Daniel R. Martin says:

    I wish they would focus predominantly on the Offensive line. Maybe sign Roddy White who was recently cut by the Falcons.

    • steve earle says:

      Hi Dan, I like the idea of o-line being a focus just it’s so hard when there are so many spots needing upgrades. Another thing is OG seems deeper then OT and we already have 2 OG last year and looking at OT they are kind of thin it seems to me. Not having a 1st really makes it difficult. In other years bill would trade down our 1st for a couple added picke often a high 2nd which could be used for a decent OT, not so this year and we are left to go to what is next best. Goodell really stuck it to us.

  5. Gerry says:

    I like Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford: 6-4 235lbs. He had an outstanding combine; drills were excellent. [best 3-cone and 36″ vertical] He is size wise a TE tweener. He looked as good as any of the WR in the combine drills.

    Depending on FA signings, NE needs 2 WR in the draft. If one is a taller WR, the other needs to be a slot receiver. A late round option could be Bralon Addison, Oregon. He could also serve on ST as returner,

    • acm says:

      When projecting for the Pats at the skill positions, looking for a stand-out 3-cone time is a smart way to go. 😉

    • steve earle says:

      Good eye Gerry I think he could be an excellent day 3 pick and a serious match up problem for most defenses.

      • Gerry says:

        If you have access to the field drills, compare his hips to any of the top WR. Good gauntlet too. He is about two steps to slow to be a “real” outside WR, but his size/height makes him a tweener as a move TE and mismatch WR.

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    The Patriots spent time with FB/TE/H-Back Dan “Superback” Vitale, Vitale had a very good combine and i see him as our next “move” TE because of his versatility, moving him around in the formation and mismatches, and his size is very similar to former Pat Aaron Hernandez.

    • Mike says:

      He tested really well, but I didn’t see that type of movement on tape. Hernandez was very smooth after the catch and could make defenders miss. Vitale looks like a full back who can catch. I could see a late round pick on him, but I would not compare him to Hernandez.

      • J H TARBORO says:

        Mike, I compared his size to Hernandez, not his movement, also using a FB/H-back with good hands and speed that you can move around a formation, on the line and backfield is dangerous. Vitale is a unconventional weapon that wouldn’t work in most offenses , but I believe he could work out in our spread offense.

  7. J H TARBORO says:

    By the metrics, Ricardo Louis and Malcolm Mitchell are appealing prospects, thanks Ryan! but just like every year, pro days almost always has a WR or RB that wasn’t at the combine that opens everyones eyes! Ricardo Louis has New England written across his chest in this draft.

  8. Ryan says:

    Two wideouts that caught my eye at the combine:

    Ricardo Louis: 6’1.6″, 215lbs, 4.43 40YD, 1.58 10YD, 38″ vertical, 11′ broad, 18 reps, 32 3/8″ arms 9 1/2″ hands. Louis was the number two athlete at the wide receiver position in. Indianapolis, according to SPARQ. He took over for Duke Williams and had an up-and-down season as Auburn’s No.1 receiver. I’d give him a 4th/5th round grade because of his athleticism, though he lacks consistency and will need time.

    Keyarris Garrett: 6’3.3″, 220lbs, 4.53 40YD, 1.63 10YD, 36.5″ vertical, 10’8″ broad, 14 reps, 7.30 3-cone, 4.33 20-shuttle, 11.72 60-shuttle, 34 1/2″ arms, 9″ hands. Garrett put up big numbers this year for Tulsa, and by one metric he came in fourth in receiver position drills at the combine. His athleticism is good enough for his size that I’d be happy taking him in the fourth round and I’d consider him in the third.

  9. Russell says:

    Watched some tape on Malcolm Mitchell, kid has skills, personable guy. Has had knee injuries in 2013 , but got a good check-up at the combine. Route runnimg about avg. mostly a guy out side the numbers, jet sweep, end a rounds, kick/pint returner. Also played some CB in his freshmen yr. Looks like 4th round in most circles.

  10. Russell says:

    A WR who looked good was Malcolm Mitchell 6′ 198 lbs. 10 1/2″ hands 4.45 40 yd. 15 reps on the bench, 6.94 3-cone drill.
    Sean Davis CB/S stood out 4.46 40 yd, 6.64 3- cone drill, 21 reps on the bench, 3.97 20 yd shuttle.

    • Ryan says:

      Both of them look like very good values at this point. I’m amazed Mitchell isn’t talked about more, and he looks like a good bet to outplay his draft position. He seems semi-polished with lots of room to grow. According to Rotoworld’s metrics based on measurables and combine testing, Davis is a 99% match (an extremely uncommon occurrence) for Eric Rowe, a guy we all loved last year. If Davis can manage to stay a bit quieter than Rowe, we could end up with quite a bargain there as well.

      • Russell says:

        One of the Keys for WR Mitchell is 10 1/2″ hands! Gronk has 10 3/4″ hands, I think it’s important if your a Wr.

    • Todti says:

      I like Mitchell too, I wrote about him on Sunday:
      “An interesting player for the later rounds is WR Malcolm Mitchell. 5’11 194lbs, big hands. He had the 5th-best 40 time with 4.45s, 9th-best vertical, 4th-best broad jump, and mid three-cone. He’s a good route runner and catcher and a high-character guy – he apparently had problems reading into his college days but subsequently wrote a children’s book.”

    • Mike says:

      Just a heads up, I finished up Mitchell just before the combine and am just looking for the time to get his report done. I didn’t include him because of the report, but I am glad to see he has caught the attention of a lot of you on here.

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