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ESPN McShay: Who to Watch at the Combine

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    California WR Jackson, Arkansas RB Jones stand to benefit at combine
    By Todd McShay

    Scouts Inc.
    (Archive)

    Updated: February 19, 2008

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    The 2008 NFL scouting combine officially kicks off Wednesday with offensive linemen, tight ends, kickers, punters and specialists arriving in Indianapolis. The final group -- defensive backs -- shows up Saturday. Kickers and punters will work out inside the RCA Dome on Friday. Workouts for position players finally begin Saturday with offensive linemen and tight ends, and finish Feb. 26 with cornerbacks and safeties.


    As players make their final preparations and head for Indianapolis, here's an early look at some prospects with the most on the line at this year's combine:

    Five under the most pressure to perform
    1. DeSean Jackson, WR, California
    Jackson elected to leave school early and projects as a first-round pick despite suffering through an injury-riddled and inconsistent junior season. On film, Jackson appears to be one of draft's most fluid and sudden athletes. NFL scouts are expecting him to verify that feeling inside the RCA Dome over the weekend. Jackson doesn't need to blaze a record-setting 40 time, though. Anything in the 4.4-second range will be fine. However, scouts will be disappointed if his minimum times in the short-shuttle, long-shuttle and three-cone drill fail to register in the top-10 overall. This is an exceptionally deep class of wide receivers, so the pressure is on Jackson to deliver.

    2. Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
    Gholston's up-the-field explosiveness is the main reason he is considered a potential top-10 pick. In order to maintain that standing, Gholston needs to verify that burst with an excellent time in the 10-yard split. For comparison purposes, the fastest split time run by an end last year was 1.49 seconds by Brian Robison.

    3. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
    Talib is one of a few cornerbacks in the mix to become the first selected at the position. His size, natural athleticism and versatility as a playmaker are attractive. On the flipside, it also doesn't take much film study to realize that Talib is a gambler. He was able to make up for a lot of sins in college because he was faster than most other players. That won't be the case in the NFL, but Talib at least needs to verify that he's fast enough to recover from the occasional mistake. In addition to a 40 time in the 4.4s, scouts will be looking to see if the bigger cornerback has enough change-of-direction quickness in the shuttles. Ideally, Talib will run the short-shuttle in the low 4-second range, the long-shuttle in the low 11-second range and the three-cone drill in the mid to high 6-second range.

    4. Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
    The top safety spot in the 2008 class is up for grabs. Phillips is arguably the best all-around athlete at the position but he's coming off a disappointing junior season. Since underclassmen can't play in all-star games, this is Phillips' first pre-draft opportunity to showcase his skills for NFL decision-makers. Phillips needs to cash in during his four-day trip to Indy.


    5. Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia
    Slaton seemed sluggish as a junior and many scouts question his overall toughness because of his injury history. As a 5-foot-9, 195-pound scat-back prospect, Slaton needs a jaw-dropping performance at the combine to avoid free-falling out of the first four rounds.

    Five with the most to gain
    1. Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
    Jones has been taking a backseat to teammate Darren McFadden the past three seasons, and for good reason. But the combine is an ideal venue for Jones to step to the forefront. While a bit undersized at 6-0 ¼, 205, Jones appears on film to be one of the fastest, most versatile athletes this deep crop of running backs has to offer. If he rips off a 40 time in the 4.3-second range and ranks among the elite in all agility drills, Jones can lock down a spot among the top 45 picks.

    2. Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas
    A surprise junior addition to the 2008 class, Finley is flying under the radar right now. He's undersized and unpolished but you can't coach the type of athleticism this 6-5, 240-pounder will showcase in Indianapolis. Mark my words: Finley's post-combine stock will rise higher than any of the other 17 tight ends expected to attend.


    3. Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
    Sims is unpolished and could have used another season at Auburn to develop. Regardless, scouts and coaches will be looking to see how much raw ability and competitiveness this 6-4, 310-pound junior possesses. From what I can tell on film, Sims should rank among the top DTs in the agility drills, 40-yard dash and bench press. Sims had some issues off the field, though, so the interview process will afford him a chance for him to prove he has matured. If all goes as planned, Sims can lock down the No. 4 DT spot in this year's class, which would all but guarantee a spot in one of the first two rounds.



    4. Orlando Scandrick, CB, Boise State
    Scandrick isn't in Talib's league but the 6-0, 190-pounder is sure to turn heads with a 40 in the 4.3s, vertical leaps around 40 inches and short-shuttle and three-cone finishes among the top five at the position. All are important drills in evaluating an athlete's change-of-direction quickness.

    5. Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina
    Johnson is undersized and still a bit unpolished, but the combine is a perfect venue for him to hypnotize scouts with his speed and versatility. If he performs to expectations he could solidify his status as the top-rated senior in this year's running back class.

    Five small-school prospects to know
    1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
    Rodgers-Cromartie proved at last month's Senior Bowl that he is more than capable of hanging with the big boys. A late-first round selection is not out of the question, but only if he works out as well as expected at the combine.

    2. Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
    Deceptively athletic and blessed with the strongest arm in this year's class, Flacco should continue his ascent up NFL draft boards after the combine.

    3. Kendall Langford, DE, Hampton
    Langford is not a great athlete but is strong enough to take on blockers as a two-gap end in a 3-4 scheme. He mistakenly dropped about 25 pounds in order to improve his quickness for the East-West Shrine game, and scouts now want to know if Langford can replenish that weight and throw up the standard 225-pound bench press at least 30 times.

    4. Heath Benedict, OT, Newberry College
    An inconsistent showing at the Senior Bowl made it clear that Benedict is still a work in progress. The Division II standout is expected to move inside to guard early in his NFL career so he can be better protected, but Benedict needs to rank among the elite in all the running and agility drills to show scouts and coaches that he's athletic enough to one day compete for a spot outside at tackle.

    5. Josh Johnson, QB, San Diego A former Jim Harbaugh protégé from the nonscholarship FCS ranks, Johnson will look to build on the momentum he generated as the MVP of the East-West Shrine game. With Oregon's Dennis Dixon still recovering from a season-ending knee injury, Johnson is expected to sweep the board with low QB times in the 40-yard dash, short-shuttle and three-cone drill.

    Combine Burners
    Former Kansas State wideout Yamon Figurs wowed scouts with a 4.30 40-yard dash at the 2007 combine. Here are the five players I expect to compete for fastest-in-class honors this year.

    1. Donnie Avery, WR, Houston
    2. Jack Williams, CB, Kent State
    3. Michael Grant, DB, Arkansas State
    4. Dexter Jackson, WR/RS, Appalachian St.
    5. Jammal Charles, RB, Texas
  2. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    I think Chris Johnson has the most to lose. If he runs a 4.4 he'll plummet to well into the 2nd day. His entire game is based on him having great speed.
  3. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Oh this is good stuff.

    I know I'm repeating myself......I can't wait for this combine to begin!!!
  4. BraveHeartFan

    BraveHeartFan We got a hat. I want a ring.

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    Could not possibly agree more. For him to run anything less than the reported 4.28-4.3 speed, that I've seen thrown around, about him is going to have him falling. His speed is his key to moving up, at all.

    Also, just as an interesting side note, i saw this article at ESPN about how you can't put total stock into Combine workouts and numbers cause it doesn't always tell the truth of a player.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/columns/story?columnist=yasinskas_pat&id=3252718
  5. streetcredit

    streetcredit Member

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    "I think Chris Johnson has the most to lose. If he runs a 4.4 he'll plummet to well into the 2nd day. His entire game is based on him having great speed"

    Ignore this post
  6. BraveHeartFan

    BraveHeartFan We got a hat. I want a ring.

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    Are you saying to ignore yours or the fact that theogt has hit the nail on the head about Johnson? He's a kid from a small time school whose got a fumbling problem that is highly anticipated due to his supposed blazing speed.

    If his numbers are bad at the combine he'll fall badly.
  7. Hoofbite

    Hoofbite Well-Known Member

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    with all the talk of his speed, Im surprised he wasn't mentioned as one of the fastest times of the year possibility.
  8. Billy Bullocks

    Billy Bullocks Active Member

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    Donny Avery is FAST
  9. Bob Sacamano

    Bob Sacamano Benched

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    which he won't
  10. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    Your 100% right about that. I mean a 4.40 isn't going to kill him, but if he runs a 4.45 or higher then he's in trouble. If he stinks it up in receiving drills then he's going to get knocked down too as, like you said, he's all about speed and versatility.

    Now I don't think he'll plummet well into the 2nd day, but with a poor showing he'll probably be a 3rd or 4th round pick. I'd say James Hardy would have a lot to lose with a poorer than expected 40 time as well. No one is expecting him to be a burner, but if he shows up and runs a 4.65 or 4.7 then he's going to be pushed down too. The only thing that could save him is a weak WR class. The "slower" CBs like Cason, Talib and Reggie Smith could get passes by more unpolished guys like Tracy Porter if theres a big gap in their 40 times.
  11. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    No, he won't.

    If he pulls a hammy or tweeks an ankle he simply won't run and make up for it on his pro day.
  12. Biggems

    Biggems White and Nerdy

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    If we were to somehow get Cromartie/Cason, Avery, Charles, Alridge, Godfrey.........our speed would increase immensely

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