Grading the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Part 2

Feb 27, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina defensive lineman Melvin Ingram runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Another NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books. After training for days, weeks, even months for this event, the only thing left for these young future NFL players to do is handle their pro-day; after that, the road to glory gets a bit shorter. On Saturday, the Offenseive Linemen, Tight Ends, Running backs, Quarterbacks, and Wide Receivers took the main stage on Lucas Oil Stadium; some of them came out winners, and some came out as losers. On Monday and Tuesday, the big & bad defensive players took the field in hopes of out-shining their previous performers and impressing NFL scouts. Without any delay, let's take a look at the "Winners" and "Losers": Defense Edition.

MONDAY: It was a "must do" for Dolphins fans to DVR Day 3 of the Scouting Combine. Two of the most mocked first round candidates for the Dolphins participated, and both were set to have big days. Not only was Monday filled with anticipation, but it was also filled with a great deal of pleasant surprises. Here are Monday’s winners and losers:


Related: Grading the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Part 1

WINNERS:

Dontari Poe, DT Memphis: Last week, I asked Finhead83 for

advice on a couple of "Wild-Card" candidates the Dolphins might be looking at. In his response, he told me about Dontari Poe. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. I heard about him, saw him as a late first round pick, and I left him out of the post. Yes, big mistake. Right off the bat, Poe made a lasting impression when he managed 44 reps on the bench press drill. 44 reps were the most in the entire combine, but like Billy Mays used to say, "Wait! There’s more!"

The 346 lb. Memphis Tiger ran a jaw dropping 4.87 in the forty. When someone that big has the strength to bench 225 pounds 44 times, and also have the speed to run a 4.87-forty, you automatically know that he will be explosive at his craft. As mentioned before, there was still more. Poe continued his spectacular day by having a 29.5-inch Vertical Leap, a 8’9" broad jump, a 7.9 second three-cone drill, and a 4.56 second 20-yard shuttle. I managed to look over some of Dontari’s highlights, and the one thing that screams at you is his ability to burst off the line. Not only did Poe remarkably increase his draft stock, but he also has experience playing as a 4-3 DT, which is something the Dolphins should look at. However, Poe is very much like Paul Soliai when he came out of the draft, so think about that before you make the decision of whether or not you want him in our new system.

NOTES: Here is the tweet of the day coming from our gone but not forgotten beat reporter, Jeff Darlington. "RG3’s 4.41 40 is proportionate to a 346–lb. man running it in 6.84 secs. And Poe (at 346 lbs) just did it in 4.87 secs."

Nick Perry, DE USC: On Monday, DE Nick Perry surely locked up a first round spot in this year’s draft with an amazing Combine performance. At 6’3" 271 lbs. Perry ran the third fastest forty-yard dash (4.64 seconds), had the best vertical jump (38.5 inches) and tied for first in the broad jump (10’4"). Perry is a very good Defensive End; in fact, I have him graded above Andre Branch and Whitney Mercilus. Supposing Miami decides to trade down in the draft, picking Nick Perry would be an excellent move to make (if he’s available).

Melvin Ingram, DE South Carolina: In today’s NFL, Melvin Ingram would be viewed as a prototypical pass rusher. His ability to constantly get to the quarterback, disregarding his size, is phenomenal. Ingram is the most versatile DL player in the draft, his motor is that of a concord, and he has the football knowledge of a long-term vet. Ingram is a guy that can make your team better after his first day at camp, and his numbers at the combine proved it.

Ingram showed off his incredible strength and speed at the combine, running a 4.66-forty and putting up 28 reps on the bench press drill. Ingram improved his chances of being the first Defensive Line player taken in the draft.

NOTES: After seeing what the New York Giants did this season with their amazing front four, coaches and GM’s around the league wish they had a defensive line that powerful on their team. This is Miami’s chance to solidify a powerful force on defense, and drafting Melvin Ingram one of the finishing touches in getting there. Or should it be Quinton Coples? You discuss.

Luke Kuechley, MLB Boston College: For anybody that follows University of Miami football, you know who Luke Kuechley is. The man that had just been injured against NC State the previous week came into Miami and only managed to get 9 tackles (his lowest output of the season) and a 45-yard interception returned for a touchdown. Yes, he is explosive. If a man can have 15 tackles or more in seven games, you know he has something extraordinary.

On Monday, not only did Kuechley excel on the field, but he also excelled at the podium, answering questions naturally as if he was doing that his whole life. Back on the field, Kuechly was highly impressive as well. He ran a 4.58-forty, had a 27.5 inch Vertical Leap, and had one of the better broad jumps of the day at 123 inches. Before the combine, most critics and scouts bashed on Luke’s athleticism...What's to bash on now?

LOSERS:

Vontaze Burflict, ILB Arizona State: The unstable Sun Devil, Vontaze Burflict, seemed to have the Monday blues as he greatly underwhelmed himself and others at the Combine. Vontaze lethargically participated in every drill, and put up some of the worst Linebacker numbers. Burflict ran the 12th slowest forty time (5.09), and played sloppy on the rest of the drills. One scout even said, "I wouldn’t even touch him." Vontaze better have a good pro day, or he is looking at Day 3 draft selection.

NOTE: Vontaze was the only linebacker to top 5 seconds in the forty-yard dash.

Michael Brockers, DT LSU: Coming into the combine, Brockers was suspected to be the first defensive tackle chosen, and the best in the draft, however, one day can change all of that. Before his workout began, Brockers joked in the media room saying his 40-time dipped a little after he gained weight. A little was an understatement. Brockers ran a 5.36 forty, which is almost Rich Eisen speed. He also had a weak outing on the bench press by only putting up 19 reps. Brockers was a potential top 10 pick, but his performance on Monday dropped his stock just a bit.

NOTES: Quinton Coples out of UNC was originally going to be on the "loser" column today. His combine was quite mediocre: decent 40 time, unimpressive on the broad jump (109"), and unimpressive on the bench press (19 reps). He isn’t, however, because his draft stock didn’t really fall. He will still be a top 10 pick; it’s just a matter of who goes first, him or Ingram.

TUESDAY: Tuesday was Secondary day. Unfortunately, my top Safety in the draft (Mark Barron) was unable to perform at the combine because of his surgery, so that gave players like Harrison Smith and George Iloka a chance to shine among the rest. Let’s take a look at how all the DB’s performed:

WINNERS:

Josh Robinson, CB Central Florida: Josh Robinson proved to be the fastest player at the combine on Tuesday. Robinson ran a 4.33 forty, the fastest of the 2012 Combine. Robinson also tied amongst the top broad jump with Stephen Hill by jumping 11 feet and 1 inch. His Vertical Leap was also impressive (38.5").

Robinson is a special talent. He holds great athletic ability and good enough ball skills to make a difference on a team. His zone coverage is ideal for the NFL, however his man-to-man coverage is streaky at best. Teams might want to move him to Safety, or teach him how to properly handle man coverage. Coming into Indy, Robinson was projected to be a fifth round draft pick. Coming out of Indy, Robinson will surely go much higher than that.

Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina: Another finely tuned athlete out of South Carolina, Stephon Gilmore has the versatility to play either Safety or Cornerback. On Tuesday, Gilmore was able to take advantage of the opportunity given to him, and performed above expectations at the Combine. On the forty-yard dash, he had one of the more impressive runs receiving an official time of 4.40 seconds. Stephon also showed his leaping ability, jumping 36 inches on the Vertical Leap and 123 inches on the broad jump.

NOTE: Gilmore might have pushed himself into the first round on Tuesday. Either way, for teams that are in need of a good cornerback, Gilmore is a very solid pick.

Harrison Smith, FS Notre Dame: For Harrison Smith to be considered being taken in the first round, he had to run close to a 4.50-forty at the combine. On Tuesday, Smith demonstrated his speed by running a 4.57-forty and a 6.63 in the 3-cone drill. Slowly but surely Smith’s stock began to rise. Harrison showed off his tremendous strength as well by bench-pressing 225 lbs. 19 times.

Smith is a very rare athletic specimen. His knowledge of the game matches his athletic ability, which was shown on Notre Dame Stadium for four years straight, as Smith was a starter and a captain. Overall, Smith is a smart, athletic defender who should push to start early in a zone-heavy NFL scheme. Expect him to contend for a late first-round selection with the help of impressive postseason workouts and interviews.

LOSERS:

George Iloka, FS Boise State: George Iloka, a big and tall safety (6’4" 225 lbs.) out of Boise State looked to have the same results as Harrison Smith and separate himself from the pack. Unfortunately, all George really showed was his strength, by completing 20 reps. What he did with his feet was very unfortunate. Iloka ran a 4.66-forty and a 7.03 three-cone drill. One may ask, "So if he’s so slow, how did he do well in college?" Well, Iloka played deep coverage when he as in man; very deep coverage. When he makes the transition to the NFL, he will notice that he has to play up close and his speed is what’s going to keep him in check with the WR. Iloka’s draft stock got hurt, and he will now be looking at a late 3rd-early 4th round selection at best.

Cliff Harris, CB Oregon: Unlike Iloka, Harris is a player that relies on his speed and hoped to make an impact on all running drills on Tuesday. However, he had an awful outing. Here are Harris’ numbers: 4.64-forty, 14 reps on bench, 36" Vertical Jump, 118" Broad Jump, 6.79 second three-cone drill, 4.19 second 20-yard shuttle run. Not only did Harris run slowly at the combine, but he came in very thin at 170 lbs., and he looked sloppy and nonchalant on many of the drills. In conclusion, Harris is looking at a late 5th round pick selection, and whoever is willing to take a chance on him must know that he comes with a plethora of off-the-field baggage.

The 2012 NFL Scouting Combine is officially over. The drama that surrounded it, the surprise players, the disappointments, and the Rich Eisen 40-yard dash in a suit was all part of what made this year’s Combine one of the most anticipated and enjoyable of all. However, what comes next is a lot better than a couple of college kids showing off their skills. That’s right. Free Agency is in the air.

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