The sheer athleticism and speed on display at the NFL Combine is quite amazing and makes for good television. Watching the potential draftees go through the drills and then guessing which of them will land on the team you root for is just plain fun.
The Combine is definitely a piece to the puzzle when scouting the potential infusion of talent into Pro Football, but it should not be the final word on a draft board. Real football is played wearing pads with real opponents, which has led to the Combine to be eloquently described as the Underwear Olympics. Unfortunately, it does change the mind of a few general managers. The late Al Davis was notorious for reaching for players based on their 40 yard dash times. He was rarely rewarded in his need for speed approach as many of those players did not produce on the field.
However, the Combine is a good tool for determining if a player is just too slow or lacks the required change of direction skills for his position at the NFL level. It is also useful for finding out if a player’s measurements listed on a college program are indeed a reality. It is not prudent for GMs to freak out after the Combine and tear up their entire draft board. With that in mind, I would also like to leave my original mock draft alone, but performances forced some changes.
Original 7 round mock draft selections:
Bradley Roby: His combine performance solidified his first round talent.
Yawin Smallwood: What a disappointment Smallwood was at the Combine! I was excited to see his performance and expected him to show top notch athleticism, but it was not to be. His 10 yard split in the 40-yard dash started out great, but he pulled up with a hamstring problem and came in over five seconds. He then only participated in the jumping drills which were not wildly impressive. His pro day better show marked improvement.
Pierre Desir: His speed was as expected. His time in the three cone drill was good and will make up for some lack of sheer speed. He didn’t “wow” so he may be still on the board in round three.
Donte Moncrief: He erased the doubts about his speed and athleticism. He won’t be available in the fourth round and maybe not even the third round.
Daniel McCullers: His performance was as expected and his draft value was unchanged.
Russell Bodine: His bench press was excellent, but overall he did as expected and his draft status is unchanged.
Jordan Najvar: His performance was mostly as expected and his draft stock didn’t change. His three cone drill and shuttles were solid, ranking near the top for tight ends this year. I would have liked to see more strength and lower body explosion from him, which leads me to believe he may not be the tenacious blocker against NFL defenses as he was against college defenses.
Updated mock draft
Round #1 – Bradley Roby (unchanged)
Round #2 – Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State
Since this update is based on the Combine performances there is no way I can take Smallwood in the second round with his lack of performance in Indianapolis. There isn’t a MLB prospect left on the board with a grade high enough to select here, so I changed direction. Jackson did not put up great numbers at the Combine, but that was expected as he is a very large man. He would be an upgrade to Zane Beadles, maybe from day one. If Smallwood makes amends at his pro day, he may be back in this slot.
Round #3 – Pierre Desir (unchanged)
Round #4 – Jordan Tripp, Middle Linebacker, Montana
Since Moncrief moves up at least one round this spot becomes vacant. The need for a new MLB prompts Tripp as the selection here. There are some who list him as an outside linebacker, but in the middle is where he should play. Although he came from a small school, he is instinctive, athletic and has all the desired “measurables” to handle middle linebacker duties. The Broncos need to sign a one year starter in free agency to man the middle while Tripp develops, but if he can make solid progress in that development he could be a fixture in the defense for a long time.
Round #5 – Daniel McCullers (unchanged)
Round #6 – Michael Campanaro, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest
This change has nothing to do with Bodine’s performance, but rather Smallwood’s lack thereof. After drafting Jackson in round #2 there isn’t a need to take Bodine as originally projected. Campanaro is not big, but has good speed and change of direction skills. He will be a good development player to eventually replace Wes Welker.
Round #7 – Jordan Najvar (unchanged)