Monday Wrap

February 29, 2016

The DB group of 59 got on the practice field today to run and jump and perform DB drills. But even the presence of former speedster and NFL Hall-of-Famer DEION SANDERS could not make this the fastest group of the 2016 Combine. Most of the participants ran mediocre to disappointing 40-times with way too many displaying hands like feet in drills. SANDERS even resorted to a wasted pep talk to players a couple of times, urging them to catch the ball. It is what it is DEION, a relatively slow Draft Class for 2016.

Only 49 of the 59 players actually ran in anger today and a measly 6 of them ran under 4.40 second 40-times. Overall the group was a bit faster than the WR corp from Saturday. A total of 20 players did manage to come in under 4.50. But like most of the position groups in Indy nobody would accuse very many of these prospects as being fast.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the “fast” group was Clemson S T.J. GREEN who recorded a 4.34/40 while standing 6’024″ & weighing 209 lbs. If some team can improve his tackling technique, and attitude, they may have something in a couple of seasons. He was certainly more impressive overall, by a long shot, when compared to his Clemson running mate JAYRON KEARSE.

The fastest DB at the Combine since 2003, is Stanford Routt who recorded a 4.27/40. JONATHAN JONES/Auburn with a nice 4.33/40 time was the fastest DB today. JONES who is short (5’091″) by any standard was following up a nice week in Mobile and certainly looks to be draftable as at the very least a sub-package/slot Corner and Special Teams speedster. At the end of the regular season I would have written him off as a likely URFA, but he has used his speed, and apparent quickness, to impress NFL personnel people this post-season.

The biggest winner of the DB group at this Combine had to be WILLIAM JACKSON/Houston. The tall (6’003′), lanky (189 lbs) press-cover Corner was highly thought of coming into the week in Indy. He leaves with a bullet next to his name after burning a 4.37/40-time. His size, speed and solid career for Houston should have him knocking on the door of the First Round in April.

Even though they did not set the Combine on fire I don’t think either of the top two rated CB prospects coming into this venue hurt themselves at all. JALEN RAMSEY & VERNON HARGREAVES look to both be gone before we are 12 picks into the Draft.
I still think RAMSEY has a better chance to excel from the S position, but he clearly stated on NFLN Sunday night that he preferred to be considered a CB right now. I’m still not convinced after today’s workout, that he has the ball skills to be an impact Corner. Whereas at S his athleticism would be elite. I liken RAMSEY to RONNIE LOTT in his play and potential for the pro game.
HARGREAVES was a bit stouter than expected, at 204 lbs, but just as quick and instinctive as he looked in Florida game action. His 4.50/40 speed is adequate for the Corner and his explosion to the ball is exceptional.

ELI APPLE/Ohio State showed nice size this week (6’005″/199) but more importantly answered any supposed concerns about his speed with a 4.40/40-time. Like JACKSON, I expect him to be a First Round selection. That would make 4 guys on my First Round list, with RAMSEY, HARGREAVES, APPLE & JACKSON making the grade.
There might be another 1 or 2 first rounders in this group if they are able to run really well at their schools’ Pro Days over the next month plus. I refer to CB/McKENSIE ALEXANDER, S/KARL JOSEPH, CB/KENDALL FULLER.

My sleeper pick coming out of this position group is TYVIS POWELL/S, and part of the 14 BUCKEYE contingent in attendance in Indy. POWELL, who was overshadowed by the plethora of talent on the Buckeyes Defense showed awesome potential to be a starting S in the NFL very soon. POWELL measured 6’026″, 211 lbs, with 9 3/8″hands and ran a very fast (for a S) 4.46/40. He should make an immediate impact on some NFL team’s Special Teams units, and work his way to starter status early on.

Even though today’s group work was far from stellar overall it was solid. I can honestly say that the pre-Combine chatter that the defensive players would dominate the event was absolutely correct in this Draftnik’s opinion. Not to mention the fact that some elite defenders eligible for the Draft (JACK, SMITH, JOSPEH & ALEXANDER) couldn’t even perform in Indy because of injuries.

A good looking CB prospect, who really hit a home run today, was MAURICE CANADY/Virginia. CANADY is likely a Saturday Draftee in April. But today he looked like a First Rounder, as he showed up with writing on his shoes paying tribute to the female police officer who was killed in Virginia over the weekend in a domestic violence incident, on her first day of active duty. He was going to auction off the shoes tonight online and donate the proceeds to a memorial funeral fund in her honor. That’s a heartfelt, professional move Mr. Canady. Bravo young man!

On another humanitarian note, RICH EISEN of NFLN ran his annual 40-yard dash, last night, for airing today. The new twist was having the event serve as a money raising event for St. Jude’s children’s research hospital in Memphis. Several Combine broadcast sponsors made large corporate contributions and fans were encouraged to go to Run Rich Run at the NFLN website and also donate. EISEN, aced his 40, with a personal best of just over 5.90 seconds. Now let’s see how much money the event ends up contributing to St Jude’s overall. Well done folks.
I think all this charitable good will must have softened my hard old heart a bit. I didn’t even mind DEION SANDERS and his mouth that much most of the day. Who’da thunk you would ever hear that from my mouth, or pen.

We’ll have some additional thoughts here spread over the rest of this week as I look through my notes and respond to other info as I run across it from other sports news sources. The results here will also influence both Colin and I to revise our Top 100 lists this week as well. Hope you enjoyed watching the Combine and our coverage of the event.