More COMBINE Thoughts from PIGSKIN

By | March 12, 2017

I cannot believe today’s “NOW” society at times. I’m still pulling together numbers and notes from the NFL Combine, and being accused of living in the past by some. The Combine wrapped up less than one week ago! How can it be old news?! All of our observations cannot be based on first impressions, so I will continue to propose more thoughts on last weekend’s event in Indy in the coming week or two.

Another of my more surprising moments from the Combine was the disappointing 40-times run by both Florida Gator CBs. TEEZ TABOR, could only manage a 4.62/40, while his teammate QUINCY WILSON was acceptable, but not elite, with a 4.54 posting. Both of these players have been listed as Top 10 CB with TABOR even appearing in many Mock First Rounds. There is more to being a top pro CB than straight-line speed, but it is a given that being fast is expected. Both of these guys will have to make up some time, so to speak, at their Pro Days to stay in the Top 50, in my eyes. Expect better in Gainesville, but I sure hope some NFL folks who attend the workout measure to make sure the sprint is on a full 40-yard run basis.

On a brighter note on a CB from the Sunshine State, and UCF, SHAQ GRIFFIN really impressed during his time in Indy. It started at the weigh-in when he was a solid 6’0 and 194 lbs. His 32 3/8″ arms were a real positive as well. He blazed a 4.38/40, as well as showing loose hips in his ability to flip them in coverage drills. His 38.5″ Vert was a clear indicator of explosion in his lower body. A sub-7 second 3-Cone time @ 6.87 was also what scouts like to see. He’s an aggressive player, who should only get better under pro coaching. Watch for him to crack the Top 100 in the Draft. And if you like back-stories check out that of he and his 1-handed brother, SHAQUEM.

An annual mystery to me is trying to figure out what is going on with players who show serious weight differences between their post-season work and what they looked like during their college career. A couple such guys have emerged again since January in this years Draft Class.
KAREEM HUNT was a record setting RB at Toledo, on a winning program during his career there. He was a strong player at over 220 lbs., with good hands as a receiver. He was an explosive runner while at the Senior Bowl venue, but surprised many with a weigh-in number of only 208 lbs. At the Combine he was back up to 216 lbs. running a 4.62/40. Now clearly we know that his game film shows a productive, hard running player who should fit an NFL RB rotation quite nicely. But as Mike Mayock likes to say, ‘I want to know who he is’ in referencing his playing weight. It creates another variable that personnel folks must sort through. Can’t wait to see his weight at the Toledo campus Pro Day.
Another mystery man, probably of even more significance, is TE/GERALD EVERETT of South Alabama. EVERETT is of the same ilk as EVAN ENGRAM, with some scouts ranking him above ENGRAM, who wowed at the Senior Bowl. EVERETT is the hybrid TE type, ala JORDAN REED of the Redskins, but his weight has been all over the place of late. He was listed in the college game programs at a generous 240 lbs, but drew polite gasps in Mobile when he weighed in at only 227 lbs. At the Combine he was back up to 239 lbs. while running a less than blazing 4.62/40. The timing of such a weight gain/loss in advance of running his 40 is questionable to say the least. It was also a bit disconcerting to have his hands measure in less than 9″, at 8.5″. I don’t think EVERETT helped his Draft status with the weight fluctuation and resultant workout numbers. He’s got some explaining to do, and some speed to flash, at team workouts and perhaps his Pro Day.

A sleeper who I mentioned back last Fall in my Who Caught My Eye column, got my attention again at the Combine. I am referring to Ole Miss DT, D.J. JONES. JONES had some excellent workout numbers in Indy. He was right on target measuring in at 6’1/319 lbs. Albeit in a very limited area, he shows some surprising quickness and pursuit along the line of scrimmage. He also has excellent hand strength and obviously a nice low center of gravity. For a team looking for a big bodied, plugger for the middle of their DL he could make a very valuable late round draftee in April. For a team that likes him, waiting tis after the Draft to get him as URFA could become somewhat problematic.

Another oddity that caught my eye watching hour after hour of workouts over the length of the Combine, was my mind’s comparison of the running of the gauntlet drill by receivers and DB groups in general. One of the intangibles that personnel people look for during this drill is for players to run straight along the yard-line that they begin the drill on. It looked quite clear to me that it was the DB group that stayed true to that line, while many in the receivers group were zig-zagging most of the width of the field. Not sure how that gets judged/ranked in scout notebooks, but it was conspicuously noticeable to me.

I am perfectly willing to admit that I do not watch an equal amount of game film on every player that I venture a scouting opinion on. And a guy who I only watched twice this past season (I discounted the hurricane mud-bowl game vs Notre Dame) was JOSH JONES/SS/NC STATE. I thought he looked OK in those 2 games I did watch, but was a bit surprised when I saw he had declared to leave school early for the 2017 Draft. I feel like he blew up his Combine opportunity with a standout display of athleticism and football related skill. It began with his 4.41/40 which he ran at a SS weight of 220 lbs., on a 6’1 frame. He looked very smooth in drill work whether running in forward or reverse mode. He added a 37.5″ Vert and a 132″ (that’s 11′ to you math challenged folks) broad jump, He also has functional strength, which include 20 reps in the Bench Press, with 32″ long arms. Throw his workout numbers on top of a 2016 season that included 109 tackles and 3 Int., and you have a young man who could be headed for a Draft slot as high as Round 2.

Though not as clear-cut good as JONES, a bit of a pleasant surprise in the secondary group was DELANO HILL/S/Michigan. HILL had a decent showing at the Shrine venue back in January, and really looked good at the Combine. He displayed a bit more athleticism at the Combine than expected perhaps, which should make it more likely to actually be drafted than we thought in December. HILL measured 6’1/216 lbs. and was able to run a 4.47/40. He also has 9 3/8″ hand spread & 32 1/8″ arm length. His 6.96, 3-cone time shows he has some change of direction flex to his body. He is lacking a bit in ball skills, but can run with receivers downfield. He showed solid all-around skills out on the field in 2016 with 52 tackles, 4.5TFL, 3 PBU & 3 Int. His ability to run and change direction was obvious in drill work in Indy, and he got mention on several occasions during NFLN broadcast times. Do not sleep on this guy once we get into Draft Saturday.

That’s what I have for today, but chances are good I’ll have more thoughts early in the coming week. I intend to watch the NFLN replay of the RB group workouts later today. I had satellite reception issues on that Combine Friday so I’m thinking I’ll have some additional thoughts on that group in particular early next week.

Cheers

Pigskin