Each year, the NFL Scouting Combine provides over three hundred of the nation’s top collegiate prospects the biggest prospective job interview of their lives. These players will be physically and mentally evaluated in order for NFL teams to determine their draft value. Millions of dollars are won and lost each year due to player’s performances.
In 2012, Dontari Poe was selected 11th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs coming off of an incredible physical display at the Combine. At 346 pounds, he ran a sub 5.0 40 yard dash (4.98 seconds), and benched 225lbs 44 times. Poe was considered at the time a 4th round pick by most analysts, but had a monumental jump after his performance at the Combine. On the same token, many players have lost incredible amounts of money due to the combine. A couple of the more famous ones include current Bengals’ Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who went undrafted, and most famously Maurice Clarett, who went from one of the most successful freshman runners in collegiate history, and once a potential first round pick to never playing in a regular season game in the NFL.
This year’s combine is no different, as there are some physical freaks who will make themselves more money, and there will be guys who have disappointing performances that get drafted later than they maybe should be. Here are some players who stand a lot to gain in this upcoming combine:
Brandon Bridge, QB South Alabama, 6’5″ 235lbs – Bridge has as high of a ceiling as maybe any player in this draft. However, he’s so incredibly raw, it’s tough to see him ever reaching his full potential. Bridge has only started one year of full Division I football, but possesses the strongest arm in this class, as well as the speed to hurt defenses. Bridge will light up this combine, and will likely be drafted too high. However QB coaches will drool at his skill set and potential. I have Bridge as a 6th round grade, but he could be drafted higher.
Phillip Dorsett, WR Miami (FL), 5’10” 183 – Dorsett has averaged over 25 yards per reception since 2012 for the Hurricanes, and is expected to run one of the fastest 40 yard dashes, if not the fastest at the Combine. Dorsett’s stock has been rising in recent weeks, and expect more of it after his Combine, especially with the successes of Antonio Brown and other small and fast receivers. Dorsett is thought of as a fringe 2nd-3rd round prospect, but could see his stock go up even further with a solid showing.
Blake Bell, TE Oklahoma, 6’6″ 260 – You may be thinking, hey, wasn’t Blake Bell the Quarterback at Oklahoma a couple of seasons ago? The answer is yes. But after the emergence of Trevor Knight, Bell made the transition to Tight End this past season, and showed enough to garner an invite to Indianapolis. Bell possesses intriguing skills, as he’s a mountain of a man whose athletic skills are very deceptive. Bell has a major opportunity to move the forefront of Tight End rankings this week.
The Huge Offensive Tackles – There are a couple mammoth tackles in this draft: Corey Robinson, 6’8 347, South Carolina, and Rob Havenstein, 6’8″ 333, Wisconsin. Both of these men have huge, no pun intended, opportunities to increase their draft stock this week. A solid 40 time, as well as the short shuttle, could make these two a lot of money. Both are projected as Right Tackles, but if they can exhibit some athleticism at their size, they could be thought of as Left Tackles, and make quite a bit of money for themselves.
Arik Armstead, DE Oregon, 6’8″ 290 – Armstead is one of the most intriguing prospects in this class, possessing prototypical length and explosion for a Defensive Lineman. He’ll likely play a Five Technique End in a 3-4 scheme, but he has the chance to drastically improve his value at the Combine by performing well. If he can run well enough, as well as have an impressive bench, he could make himself some money.
Now, as much of an opportunity as there is for guys to make themselves money, there’s just as much to lose it. Here are some guys who may not have the Combine they’d like to have:
Vic Beasley, DE/OLB Clemson, 6’3″ 235 – Beasley is one of the best athletes in this class, as he has exceptional get off while rushing the passer, and creates havoc wherever he goes. However, he won’t be able to play conventional Defensive End in the NFL due to his frame and weight, so he’ll project to either a 3-4 Outside Linebacker, or a Von Miller type role in a 4-3 scheme. Beasley needs to blow up the combine, or he could lose some value in his stock. If he has a poor showing in the bench press, and doesn’t exhibit the hip fluidity teams would like as a Linebacker, Beasley could see himself dropping on draft day.
Shane Ray, DE Missouri, 6’3″ 245 – Ray is one of the top Defensive End prospects in this year’s draft, but just like last year, a Missouri Tiger Defensive Lineman could have a lot to lose in Indianapolis. Much like Michael Sam, Ray doesn’t have the ideal size you want out of a 4-3 End, and doesn’t have the bendability that you want out of a 3-4 Linebacker when rushing the passer. If Ray doesn’t run very well, and doesn’t bench well, he could be in for quite a plummet down the draft board.
Denzel Perryman, LB Miami(FL), 6’0″ 242 – Perryman will remind a lot of NFL fans of Linebackers of old, as he’s a thumper who looks to inflict pain on all Offensive Linemen and ball carriers. He’s a tough kid who brings the pain, but he struggles in coverage. Think Brandon Spikes, but a little smaller. He struggles to change direction quickly, and scat backs are his natural enemy. Don’t expect Perryman to run well, and if he struggles in the field drills, he could see his stock fall.
Cody Prewitt, S Ole Miss, 6’2″ 217 – Cody Prewitt is one of the better known players off of the “Land Shark” defense in Oxford, but Prewitt’s game doesn’t scream NFL as much as you’d think. Other than some of his playing style deficiencies, Prewitt is marginal athletically, and despite his collegiate success, he’ll have to excel at the Combine to avoid his stock falling. He doesn’t project to run well, and he has some stiffness in his hips. Unless he proves us wrong, he’ll be waiting to get drafted longer than he’d like.
It will certainly be interesting to see who rises and falls in the coming week in Indianapolis. These next few days have great importance for all of those involved, and will make or break some player’s dreams. Good luck to all of the players this week, and we’ll see where things stand when the dust settles.