Combine risers and fallers.
Combine is over.
I shouldn’t admit this but I love the combine. (I also shouldn’t admit that I’m that last person on Earth to discover Pharrell’s Happy song1 and if it weren’t for the combine intro music I still wouldn’t have found it.) It’s great background noise for four days and I think NFLN does a good job with it. I normally don’t like Mike Mayock, but this setting is his sweet spot.
I get the criticism about how these wonky drills don’t translate to the field and that game play is how to eval players. I get that and I try to apply the appropriate weighting to the combine data in comparison to ‘is he a football player.’
That being said… there’s a reason NFL teams want this data: it’s important. Just how big and how fast and how explosive are these guys in real life? The combine measures this and so everyone has good data.
There are correlations between these metrics and predictive success. Remember when the Giants took Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round after only 13 games of D1 college ball? While there were a lot of factors in Jerry Reese’s decision, 35″ arms can’t be coached.
Scoff at combine data at your peril, you’ll miss out on important info.
Okie doke, let’s walk through the risers and fallers by position. As always, you’re the smartest football forum in Cleveland –> share your takes in the comments. The section headings are hyperlinked to the position table on my super-awesome sortable combine results page.
UP: Jimmy Garropolo, Keith Wenning, Blake Bortles, Connor Shaw, AJ McCarron, Tajh Boyd, Brian Hoyer.
DOWN: Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Jordan Lynch, David Fales.
The QBs who threw were throwing to WRs and TEs in passing drills. From what I saw, Garropolo was the only QB who ‘commanded the line’ in the drills. He was making eye contact with his receivers, trying to communicate with them, trying to get on the same page. Seems a no-brainer, right? But from what I saw the other QBs were like: “5 step drop 15 yd out? Ok, got it.” Might be nothing, might be something but currently Garropolo is my preferred upper round QB.
Keith Wenning has bigger hands than big handed quarterback Johnny Manziel. So does McCarron. If JFF is a surprisingly fast athlete, then Connor Shaw is Jesse Owens. All QBs who threw at the combines are risers. QBs who throw at combines are saying: I got a great arm, here let me show you. On the other hand…
JFF and Teddy: no-pass-at-combine. EFF OFF. You want to be a top-5 NFL QB and you’re healthy: throw the fucking football to a fucking wide out. What is so hard about this? Will analysts say it doesn’t matter? Yes.2 Will someone draft them? Sure. But we all know the simple truth stated above: if the NFL Combine is too big of a stage for you to show your passing chops… what the hell do you think happens on Sundays in the fall? You got agents advising you not to throw? Grow a pair and take control of your path. So yes, those two have dropped off Kanick’s radar for #4.
And Bridgewater also opts not to run? Pfft. Ok, whatever man.
Fales’ throws looked horrible; Lynch didn’t belong (why were Keith Price and Brett Smith not invited??); Tajh Boyd looked real accurate; Brian Hoyer’s measurables stack up well to all these would-be candidates to take his job.
UP: Mike Evans, Donte Moncrief, Marqise Lee, Willie Snead, Jeff Janis, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Philly Brown, Martavis Bryant, Michael Campanaro, Tevin Reese, Davante Adams, Jordan Matthews.
DOWN: Jeremy Gallon.
Holy crap, Jordan Matthews: you’ve got 32 teams now busily scrutinizing your film. 6’3″, 4.46, 35+” vert, 7th longest arms among wide-outs, and biggest hands. Congratulations, you are a prototype NFL WR. If his film shows any competency, I don’t see how he’s not a first rounder. And if he can’t catch at all, then he’s second round. Acto, Zara, TA: well played.
Moncrief and Beckham. Don’t take this the wrong way because I don’t hate Odell Beckham. But Moncrief is the more accomplished SEC receiver; and this weekend we learned that he’s bigger and faster than Beckham. So why is Beckham chatted up as a first rounder while Moncrief projects in the third? I dunno. Must be Beckham’s big hands.
Mike Evans. There’s a couple linemen with longer arms but guys: Evans’ arms are over three inches longer than the AVERAGE wide-out (35.1 vs. 31.9); two inches longer than Josh Gordon and at the same 40 time. Evans is unique physically. I’m sure Sammy Watkins is a good receiver but physically, he’s not unique. Evans is Larry Fitz, Andre Johnson unique.3 So I’m still on Evans, even moreso after the combine, and growing more and more perplexed at the Watkins group-luv. To be clear: I don’t dislike Watkins; I just don’t see him as better than Evans; I find Evans’ measurables to be true top-5 stuff.
Marqise Lee flashed good hands; Willie Snead’s big hands have me re-thinking my early down tick on him; Jeff Janis, speed/size.
It really is a great class of wide-outs. The only guy I thought moved himself down was Gallon because he really is small and didn’t look great in the field drills.
UP: Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson, Corey Linsley, Russell Bodine.
DOWN: Cyrus Kwanjo, Jake Matthews, Cyril Richardson, Gabe Jackson, David Yankey.
Robinson benched 32 with 35″ arms and ran sub 5 40 at 332 pounds. Add in the tape and Auburn’s run game numbers and that’s your top lineman. Trying to think of a better prospect and I got nothing. Anthony Munoz type of shit going on with Robinson.
Lewan won the 40 and still benched 29. Dig out the Outback Bowl tape where he managed Clowney and he’s a top tackle.
So through no fault of his own, Matthews slid in the combine. He’s still great — Robinson is sick and Lewan got back on everyone’s radar.
Gabe Jackson was the second slowest guy in the 40. EXCELLENT!! MAYBE HE SLIDES!! I still want him and would love him more in the third round. If you watched Missy State, you know Jackson made that offense go. He’s a winner on the line. Do want.
Russell Bodine, 42 bench reps, the most by six reps.
On the other hand David Yankey with 21 reps. The last highly touted Stanford o-lineman to whiff on his weight room work: Jonathan Martin (20 reps). This stuff matters. Yankey was mocking in the first round; he can kiss that good-bye.
Also Cyrus Kouandijo: 21 bench reps AND the slowest lineman. Hard to see him still in the first round. Kanick will pass on Kouandijo in any round, does not impress on the field.
UP: Dri Archer, Jerick McKinnon, Henry Josey, Bishop Sankey.
DOWN: Lache Seastrunk, Antonio Andrews, James Wilder, David Fluellen, Carlos Hyde, DeAnthony Thomas.
Holy crap, Dri Archer. For the record, I think Chris Johnson ‘rolled into’ his start here and if he had the same d-bag Steelers coach at the starting line as Dri did, he probably runs 4.3.
Anyway. Add in the 20 bench reps and the 38″ vertical and I want to know why draft idiots aren’t talking up Archer as a top 10 pick like they did with Tavon Austin last year. If Archer is there at the top of the third I believe I’m diverting from any plan or pre-draft big board and taking him. He is a baller; you want him on your team.
McKinnon from Ga Southern was impressive and good on Henry Josey, it looks like he’ll play Sundays. Of the ‘big school, big name’ backs, Bishop Sankey affirmed the positive feeling we had going into the combine.
Dri Archer did more bench than Carlos Hyde and Hyde’s 4.66 is meh. Seastrunk somehow had the bar set as a 4.3 40 guy, so his 4.51 looks worse than it should.. but still that missed expectation makes him a faller. DeAnthony (8 reps) Thomas may go undrafted; he’s off my board.
UP: Aaron Donald, Howard Jones, Jackson Jeffcoat, Kony Ealy, Stephon Tuitt.
DOWN: Michael Sam, Jadaveon Clowney, Will Sutton
Aaron Donald. Killed –KILLED– in the Senior Bowl. Dominated in the GoDaddy Bowl. Second most bench reps at combine along with 5th fastest 40. He’s gone from what 4th round? to first round. Rumor is the Cowboys love him and I tend to believe that one and think they can use him.4
Jadaveon? No field drills? Hip boo-boo?? Cripes. Diva. Attitude. First question is whether he slides as far as Randy Moss or Warren Sapp or Dez Bryant but slide he will. Second question is whether he bounce back and perform like them. He’s a crap shoot but unlimited ceiling… yet, I lean ‘pass.’
Michael Sam’s combine performance was a disaster; Will Sutton 2nd shortest arms.
UP: Kevin Pierre-Louis, Khalil Mack, Ryan Shazier, Kevin Pierre-Louis.
DOWN: Anthony Barr, Chris Borland, Jerry Attao
Well it IS a beauty contest in Indy and so we’ve confirmed Chris Borland isn’t a gene pool winner (shortish, weak vert, slowish, shortest arms). But we know he can ball and, like Gabe Jackson above, maybe he slides. Borland in the fifth round anyone? Getting value with falling stock prices is a huge part of making the most of the combine.
KPL from BC is this year’s Jamie Collins. Oh I’ve used that personification already? Screw it, using it again. I dislike Shazier not running the 40 but with good bench, shuttle, cone and after winning the vert and broad jumps you have to call him a riser.
Is Khalil Mack on the Browns’ radar due DQ’s release? Well he was good at the combine… but he doesn’t wow me. These national draft analysts need to move past the OSU film and get back to us after watching the MAC Championship vs. BGSU and THEN call Mack a top 10 pick.
Barr with 15 bench reps. Long-ish arms but still.
UP: Justin Gilbert, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Calvin Pryor, Bradley Roby, Keith McGill.
DOWN: HaSean Clinton-Dix, Marcus Roberson, Darqueze Dennard.
Acto and Bode flashed their Big 12 acumen by nailing Justin Gilbert. He won the 40, decent height/weight/arms, great bench and has plenty of good film. Seems a lock to be first CB taken, especially with Darqueze Dennard’s field drills looking so meh.5 Gilbert won’t be around for the Browns’ second firsty; I’d support a trade-up to the late teens to get Gilbert.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, damn, he looks big, jumped 41.5 vert, and he’s impressing everyone. Ditto that for Keith McGill. They’re both probably gone in second round now. BUT! Your man Kanick is on the job, check this out:
My guy Dowling6 might just be there in the sixth. Draft him, bury him on practice squad, and hand him off to Mo Clarrett for serious training, check back on him in a year –> et voila! we have our big, fast, ball-hawking centerfielder.
I’ve seen some first round mocks on Roberson, he didn’t look like a firsty. Clinton-Dix did not wow in 40, vert, arm length but will still probably go in first round and I’m still interested in him. But Gilbert is definitely my favorite. Bradley Roby ran and measured well and he needed to because the guys in the booth reminded us viewers more than once about Jared Abbrederis eating his lunch.
UP: Eric Ebron, Colt Lyerla
DOWN: Xavier Grimble, Jace Amaro
The vertical is like bench reps for o-linemen or the 40 for wide outs or hands for QB: simply the position’s most important measurable and a key indicator of success. Jordan Cameron? 37.5. Jimmy Graham? 38.5. So when one tight end jumps four inches higher than anyone else, he wins the combine. Congrats Colt Lyerla. I’ve read some scouts still list him as undraftable. I smell obfuscation in those reports. Lyerla is first round talent and pre-draft will be rife with reasons not to draft him. Eff that. THIRTY NINE VERT PLUS THIRD FASTEST 40 PLUS 10.25″ HANDS AND 33″ ARMS. Ebron will go before him but Lyerla will have the better pro career if he cleans up.
On the other end of the scale, Xavier Grimble needs to be injured or do 30 bench reps or something because a 26.5 vertical doesn’t scream “NFL Tight End.”
So yeah. That’s a lot of words. Combine gives you a lot to look at. Gimme your takes in the comments. We got plenty of time between now and May to get this right amongst us.
- Now accepting nominations for a “Happy Oscars” or “Happy Olympics” post I’m working. Current front-runners for Best Picture are Cotonou (Benin) and Krakow. Krakow favored. [back]
- Just remember analysts and broadcasters never say anything bad about players ever. [back]
- I’ll hold off on Calvin Johnson comparisons since there has never been one. [back]
- No scoffing at Jerry Jones’ unorthodox first round pick after Travis Frederick was a top-5 center as a rookie last year. Much respect to outside box drafters. [back]
- Anyone else find it fishy how the “unofficial times” reported by NFLN for “name brand” players were way the hell off? They misreported Dennard a tenth faster; Manziel by I think 15 one hundredths. [back]
- Dowling is Joe Haden’s guy too. Haden managed Dowling’s recruiting visit to Gainesville and when asked how his time was with Dowling, Haden said, “He committed didn’t he?” [back]