With more than two weeks of absolutely no football action, football fans around the country were beginning to get a bit antsy. Luckily, February always has a cure for the "No-Football Blues," giving us the always entertaining NFL combine where every fan can become a critic, and every critic can become a fan. On Friday, a massive sigh was released when both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III decided not to throw at the Combine, but honestly, who actually thought they would. However, both Luck and RG3 were able to still able to captivate the NFL community when they decided to show off their speed and their hops, boasting seemingly incredible numbers. But I digress. This weekend's combine was an opportunity for known, well-hyped players to prove themselves to NFL coaches around the league, and an opportunity for heard, but not-so-much-talked about players to standout and ruin countless mock drafts in the process. Let's take a look at what went down this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium.
SATURDAY: The action all started on Saturday morning when the O-Linemen took the field. There were a number of players in this category that Dolphins scouts had their eye on, including OT Riley Reiff (Iowa) and OG David Decastro (Stanford). Unfortunately, OT Jonathan Martin out of Stanford was not able to participate in the Combine due to flu-like symptoms. After the O-Linemen finished up their drills, the Tight Ends took the turf. Not a lot of depth at this position, but there were some standouts, along with some disappointments.
WINNERS: Every year at the combine, all players that compete are put in a "Winner" or a "Loser" category. Here are your winners from Saturday:
- Matt Kalil OT USC: Matt Kalil is almost as certain to wind up in Minnesota as Andrew Luck is to winding up in Indianapolis, and on Saturday, he showed us why. The 6’7" 306 lb. beast made all the other O-Linemen look like little boys at the Combine starting off by benching 225 pounds 30 times. Not only did the USC Tackle show his strength, but he also showed his swift feet and athleticism. Kalil ran a sub five forty (The second best out of O-Linemen), demolished the Three Cone Drill, had a 27 inch Vertical Jump, and ran a 4.65 20-yard shuttle run. Kalil clearly came out of Indianapolis as a winner.
- David Decastro G Stanford: Coming into the combine as the "best" Guard in the draft, Decastro had to prove himself to the NFL scouts and fans that brushed him off their shoulders, that he was a rare talent. Decastro certainly made a case for himself, as he was by far the most superior interior lineman on the field that day. He was quick and smooth, posting up the best 3-cone time (7.3) since 08’, as well as top five in both the short shuttle and the broad jump. He even showed his great athleticism in the vertical jump, putting up 29 inches. Decastro made a showed scouts why he deserves to be in the top 15 come April 26th.
- Riley Reiff OT Iowa: Reiff, the supposed second best OT next to Kalil, was placed wearing a Dolphins uniform in numerous Mock Drafts. Reiff quickly made Scouts do a double take on him, as he totaled a weak 23 reps on the bench press, but not right after his arms were measured in at 33 ¼", which is considered short for an OT.
- In truth, size is important, but not crucial. Players like Bryan Buloga and Joe Thomas both have short arms, but they are both elite Offensive Tackles. This was his only setback of the day. Reiff was able to show off his superior quickness and athleticism on the "On the Field Workouts." Overall, it was a solid day for Reiff, but he is now being questioned due to his short arms.
- Michael Egnew TE Mizzou: Michael Egnew out Missouri was the most impressive and surprise Tight End at the Combine. Coming into Indy, Egnew was listed as a likely 4th or 5th round prospect. However, after his performance on Saturday, those listings were erased. The 6’5" 252 pounder recorded a 10’11" broad jump, a 36 inch Vertical Jump, and a 4.62-forty. Egnew placed himself near the top in almost every drill at the combine.
- Not only did he show scouts his strength, speed, and jumping ability, but he also demonstrated his superb aptitude in running routes and his excellent hands. Egnew showed these skills on the "Gauntlet," as he fluidly caught the ball in stride, always placing his hands away from his body, giving him the ability to cut up field in a flash. When you look at Miami’s roster and the type of offense they will soon be running, there is no question that the Tight End position is in need of a little improvement, and Egnew would certainly be an improvement.
- NOTES: Other winners that came out of Day 1 of the combine include O-Lineman Cordy Glenn out of Georgia, who ran the fifth fastest 40, and Tight End James Hanna out of Oklahoma, who rain in the high 4.4 range, posted a 36-inch Vertical, and a 10’2" Broad Jump.
LOSERS: With every winner, there is a loser. Here are your losers from Day 1:
- Mike Adams OT Ohio State: Big Boy Mike Adams out of Ohio State is the perfect size for an NFL Lineman (6’7", 323 lbs.) Oddly enough, Adams took on the title "Big for Nothing" on his Saturday drills. Adams recorded a miserable 19 reps during the bench press workout. 19 reps! That is definitely not Left Tackle strength. Unlike Reiff, Adams continued along his path of horrific drills. Here are the rest of his numbers: 5.49 forty, 28.5 Vertical Leap, 8’4" Broad Jump, 7.94 3-cone-drill, 4.95 20-yard shuttle. Adams also looked weak on the field exercises, as he dragged his feet and tripped on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, Adams moved down on a lot of mock drafts, and will be lucky if he gets drafted on Day 2.
- Dwayne Allen TE Clemson: Allen is one of those players that left scouts saying, "I expected more." Allen, who showed his tremendous hands at the "Gauntlet," let many people down with his forty time and underwhelmed on both his jumps. Allen posted up a 4.89 forty (A time that’s been beaten by many Offensive Linemen), a 9’2" broad jump, and a 32-inch Vertical Jump. To be fair, Allen did impress with his 27 reps, but as I said before, "I expected more."
- NOTES: TE Orson Charles out of Georgia decided to not run the forty; speculation from the media is that the reason he didn’t run was because he was a bit overweight. This might reduce his draft stock a bit. UCLA TE Cory Harkey, who is known for his blocking ability, only put up 13 reps. For a guy who isn’t fast or very athletic, Harkey relies on his strength, which he clearly lacks.
SUNDAY: Sunday was the most anticipated day of the weekend. Big name players like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kirk Cousins, Kendall Wright, and Miami boy Tommy Streeter were all going to participate. Day 2 of the combine provided the media with many headlines, both good and bad.
WINNERS: Without a doubt the winners on this day included Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, who both exceeded expectations (If that was possible) by recording superb numbers on the jumps and the forty. Here are the winners NOT named Andrew or Robert:
- Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame: Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd was already listed as the number 2 receiver behind Kendall Wright, but his performance at the Combine possibly made him jump a spot ahead. On Sunday, Floyd’s draft stock boosted dramatically after running a speedy 4.42 forty. The 6’3" 220 lb. receiver is what scouts crave in their receivers.
- Not only did he impress with the running drills, but he also excelled in the receiving drills, catching almost every ball that came his way and running every route with a sharp and precise motion that some receivers in the NFL might not even have. Floyd made his case to be taken high in the draft, and personally, I wouldn’t mind if we went ahead and took a chance on him.
- Stephen Hill WR G-Tech: One of the top 3 surprises of the Combine comes out of Georgia Tech and measures in at 6 foot 4 inches and 215 lbs. Stephen Hill astonished the whole country this weekend when he started off his Sunday morning running a 4.36 forty (Fastest among receivers). Hill continued his day by exceeding in the "Gauntlet" and in the deep fade drill, where he made a spectacular diving catch with his fingertips.
- Stephen Hill has one of the better skill-sets of the draft, but his only weakness is that he is extremely raw. Remember, Hill ran a triple option at Georgia Tech and was not able to produce elite numbers in his final year. And for those saying that Calvin Johnson also played in a triple option…he didn’t.
- Kirk Cousins QB Michigan St.: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, and Nick Foles. Those were the top five quarterbacks in the draft coming into Sunday, until Kirk Cousins showed up. Cousins proved to himself and many others that he belongs in the NFL. Cousins showed average speed and jumping ability on the forty-yard dash and both jumps, but he surpassed all expectations with the throwing drills.
- Cousins threw a tight, accurate spiral in nearly every drill he participated in; even making it look easy at times. He demonstrated his pro-ready passing mechanics and fundamental footwork in these drills as well. Playing in a pro-style offense is one of the reasons why Cousins was able to go through these drills with ease. In addition to being a technically sound, accurate Quarterback, Cousins also displayed his arm strength by throwing every ball with NFL Quarterback power. Cousins is slowly but surely moving his way up the draft boards and might even become the third QB chosen.
- Robert Turbin RB Utah State: As a Junior, Turbin racked up 1,800 yards and put up 20 touchdowns for the Aggies. On Sunday, the Utah State running back performed with a chip on his shoulders. Standing at just 5’9", Turbin stands at a disadvantage compared to most running backs. However, Turbin brings powers with after every step he takes, as he uses all 220 pounds in him to break away from tackles.
- Turbin was one of the halfbacks that "wow’d" scouts at the Combine. He posted a forty time of 4.44 seconds; he put up 28 reps on the bench press, and had a 36-inch Vertical Jump. It is indisputable that Turbin increased his draft stock by at least a full round after his Day 2 performance.
- Cyrus Gray RB Texas A&M: Along with Turbin, Cyrus Gray out of T A&M was able to stand outside the pack and get himself known on Sunday. Gray ran the 5th fastest forty out of running backs (4.47) He also did 21 reps of 225 on the bench press, which was the highest of HB's in his group, had a 32.5 inch vertical jump, did 9.5 feet in the standing broad jump, and ran a 7.17 three-cone drill. Gray has the potential to being an every down back in the NFL, and he certainly proved it at the Combine.
- NOTES: University of Miami players Lamar Miller, Travis Benjamin, and Tommy Streeter all had solid Combine performances. Lamar Miller ran the fastest 40-yard dash out of the running backs, which included speedsters Lamichael James and Chris Rainey. Tommy Streeter showcased well in all of the drills, especially on the "Gauntlet". Lastly, Travis Benjamin showcased his blazing speed; Mike Mayock compared him to Jacoby Jones, which is a very solid comparison.
LOSERS: Here are your Sunday losers:
- Greg Childs WR Arkansas: Although Greg Childs was able to impress with his workouts and his ten-yard split, the job of a receiver is to cacth the football, and Childs just couldn’t seem to hang on to it. Michael Irvin even called him out on it saying, "It’s not a receivers job to think about catching the football, he is supposed to think of everything else but catching the football!" If Childs works on his hands, then that should help him develop a solid NFL career.
- Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina (DID NOT PARTICIPATE): Due to "Unknown Reasons" Alshon was not able to display any of his receiving, running, or jumping skills at this year’s Combine. Before the Combine, Jeffery told the media he had "The best hands in the draft" and expected to run a "4.5 forty," however he was not able to prove any of it, which dropped his draft stock. Alshon must now run a sub 4.6 to keep his draft stock from falling even more, or he might be heading into the second round.
- Kendall Wright WR Baylor: Wright, the supposed first WR taken in the draft, did not start his day off like he wanted. For a speedy receiver, Wright looked thicker than he should have, especially around the hips. His day got worse from there. Looking at his tape, Wright seems lightning fast, but that didn’t show at the combine. He ran a lethargic 4.61 forty, which decreased his stock slightly. On the receving drills, Wright was able to catch the ball with ease, but still struggled with staying in bounds and running precise routes. Unfortunately for Wright, he will probably be the third receiver chosen, behind Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.
- NOTES: Although three quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Kirk Cousins) made a strong impact on Sunday, a few did the exact opposite. These quarterbacks include: Case Keenum out of Houston, Patrick Witt out of Yale, and Nick Foles out of Arizona. All three of these QB’s lacked accuracy, arm strength, footwork, and consistency; something NFL scouts and coaches tend to avoid.
Those were the grades for this weekend’s participants, and on Wednesday I’ll come back with Monday’s and Tuesday’s participants AKA: The Defense.