As most of you already know, every year there are almost a full round (32) of players who get drafted but were not invited to the Combine. There are many reasons for this seeming error in judgment but there are actually some very valid reasons behind this phenomenon to occur:
- Scouts/Personnel people want it up close and personal, including the medical component, especially in the case of Underclassmen, on whom the scouting notes are often a bit sparse. So almost every Underclassman gets invited.
- Even though the normal Draft includes less than 260 Picks in most years Combines already have over 300 invitees. The line has to be drawn somewhere.
- Some teams will request a certain number of players they want to see more of for various reasons, especially, but not limited to, players with some possibly concerning, pre-existing medical issues.
- There is also a pure mathematical equation that says a cap number has to be put on the event to be sure all testing can be done within a logical, reasonable time frame.
I mention all of the preceding because my intent in this space today is not to second guess who gets invited to the NFL Combine. But since the reality is that uninvited prospects will get drafted, while some invitees will not, it’s worth projecting a bit. So I will give you my list of who I think the most draftable prospects are, who never made it to Indy, and are now working out at Pro Days.
As always, in alphabetical order, here is my list of draftable, non-Combine prospects.
KAZMEIR ALLEN WR/RS/RB UCLA 5’8/176 His speed and quickness make him a multi-faceted weapon, on limited touches per game, to protect him physically.
KARL BROOKS DL Bowling Green 6’3/303 Not a great athletic specimen but a hard nosed competitor. He gets a lot if his tackles and QB pressures off pure effort and persistence.
JACK COLLETTO FB/LB/ST/TE Oregon State 6’3/239 And here is the non-speed element Swiss Army knife player. He has the size and smarts to play multiple roles. Always comes in handy for coaches to have a versatile guy, or two, for game day active rosters.
MO DIABATE ILB Utah 6’3/230 Some folks were not happy that he was not at the Combine. I have run across a few scouts that think he has Day 3 Draft credentials.
SHAQUAN DAVIS WR S.C. State 6’5/217 Long limbed, athletic small school receiving prospect. the kind of guy Practice Squads were created for.
A.J. FINLEY S/ST Ole Miss 6’2/202 A Special Teams standout for the Rebels, he also appears to have an upside as a developing deep defender, if his coverage skills can catch up to his tackling.
JOEY FISHER OL Shepherd 6’4/292 Was discovered by scouts going to watch his QB Bagent. Held his own at Senior Bowl practices & looks to some teams like a solid IOL prospect and late draftee.
QUINDRELL JOHNSON SS Memphis 6’/205 Solid player for a competitive Memphis football team. Looks like a guy with solid S special Teams nature. And maybe a bit more.
MIKEL JONES LB Syracuse 6’/229 Tackling machine, with some coverage skills who keyed a physical ‘Cuse D. Has good sized hands & with 33 1/4″ arms. Good athlete, even better player.
TITUS LEO ER/OL Wagner 6’3/243 One of a cluster of small school guys who show serious potential & traits as an Edge Rusher. Another perfect fit to develop for some team that can sneak him through the waiver process onto their Practice Squad.
ANTONIO MAFI IOL UCLA 6’3/333 I massive guy who has decent mobility in a phone booth. Worth a shot for a team that features a power running game.
MARTE’ MAPU SS/LB Sacramento State 6’3/217 A call-up to the Senior Bowl venue who impressed in practices. He popped his pads with regularity. Suffered injury which may have cost him a Draft spot, but if I had a team with extra late round picks I would take him with 2024 in mind.
BRODRIC MARTIN DT Western Kentucky 6’5/335 As Bill Parcells used to say God only makes so many really big athletes. His inference was you better try hard to get some of them on your roster.
AUBREY MILLER ILB Jackson State 6’/229 Very productive player who showed well at the Senior Bowl. If he can handle Special Teams for a while he could emerge as a pro LB with time.
LEW NICHOLS RB Central Michigan 5-10/220 Productive RB in the MAC, who decided to come out early despite missing much of the 2022 playing season. He’s a power runner with some juice.
DEREK PARISH FB/LB/ER Houston 6’1/241 Another very productive collegian who doesn’t really fit NFL size standards but plays hard & smart. His surprise talent is as an Edge Rusher.
DRAKE THOMAS ILB N.C. State 5’11/228 Another guy who doesn’t fit NFL size profiles, but is a smart, productive defender. Should stand out on Special Teams.
STARLING THOMAS CB UAB 5’10/194 Said to be quite fast, but I need to see valid 40-time. Given that rep, if true, he could be a late round draftee.
B.J. THOMPSON ER/OB S.F. Austin 6’5/238 This guy looks like a stick figure with pads, but has bulked up to 238lbs. and he practically lives in the Offensive backfield. Starred in Shrine venue.
KOBIE TURNER DL Wake Forest 6’2/288 Not the biggest guy , but in a traditional 4-3 scheme he could play inside. Shows good instincts to the ball.
XAZAVIAN VALLADAY RB Arizona State 5’11/199 Productive RB in college, and at Star Game action. He’s not a blazer, but can run, catch & block. Might just fit in a RB room as a Jack of all trades.
BEN VAN SUMEREN ILB Michigan State 6’2/237 One of those hard-nosed, but somewhat athletically deficient players who just find a way to compete and produce. Found a way to cover the field and led all players at the Shrine Bowl with 7 tackles.
JARED WAYNE WR Pitt 6’3/208 With ADDISON gone to USC, WAYNE stepped in for 50+ catches. What intrigues me is he’s not a speedster and is called a possession receiver. But he averaged 17.7/ypc last season.
CHANDLER ZAVALA IOL NC State 6’4/320 Not a sexy player, but he has the size for the Interior and he plays tough and hard. Seems to like to maul defenders at L-of-S.
I will be checking for these players’ names after the Draft ends to see how many were selected despite failing to secure a Combine invite. Check out their Pro Day numbers if you can find them.