POST-ALL-STAR pre COMBINE Draft Thoughts

February 22, 2022

Hello again football fans. Especially you NFL Draftnik die-hards. I was a bit excited with the Combine within range, but I see some agents and their clients are set to bite the hand that feeds it, before they even get a contract to join the League. Poor babies… tough protocols, with actual penalties (like get out of town) for failing to follow rules. Those same agents would be among the first to also sue the NFL in some way if their client went to the Combine and then contacted Covid-19 (or a variant thereof) for lack of health/safety protocols. It’s an all expenses paid trip to a severely limited Job Fair. Next to politicians, athletes have become the most entitled people in this country. Without talking signing bonuses, and the like, just the standard First Year NFL player salary for 2022 is scheduled to be $705,000. Wonder how many of the 300+ players scheduled to be at the Combine next week have a job at that price level waiting for them if they walk away from football. What have you got lined up for them Mr./Ms. Agent? I will tell you this much, with very few exceptions, the reborn USFL ain’t handing out those kind of contracts.

The NFL has quickly backed down on several aspects of the Protocol they set in place for the Combine. Whether or not it’s enough to placate the agents is yet to be seen. But for the now the NFL itself may have made enough of an effort to satisfy agents, and their clients, as well as providing themselves with a stringent enough initial protocol to cover their preverbal ass if something backfires and an enraged agent sues the League for negligence in conducting their Combine. As Mr. Brandt has always said, ‘there will be lawyers’.

One of the fun games Draftniks play every year is to compose a list of Combine Snubs, based on their miscellaneous prospect ranking lists. I only work with rankings of 1-300, broken down in multiples of 100. When I reuse the Combine Invitee list, I look to see what players were in my top 2 groups, top 200 regardless of position. For this year, all of my Top 100 group are on the Combine invited list. But I did discover more players than I expected missing from their list when I looked at my 101-200 group. Missing, in alphabetical order from my list to the published Combine list were:

REED BLANKENSHIP   S   Middle Tennessee St



JAMES HOUSTON    ILB    Jackson St

ERIC JOHNSON   DL   Missouri St

TAY MARTIN   WR     Oklahoma St

JA’QUAN   McMILLIAN    CB    East Carolina

TYLER VRABEL    OT    Boston College


Once we get beyond the Top 200, the player rankings for all of us are quite divergent. As the Bard of Avon once said, ‘every eye forms its own beauty’!


Last week, I happened to be scrolling thru Tweets from folks I follow on Twitter. My numbers are limited in follows to under 50, and as you might guess, the vast majority of those are football writers of one ilk or another. I came across one from Dane Brugler, the preeminent NFL Draft expert over at The Athletic. In the tweet I refer to, he listed by position groups the numbers of pro prospects in his own Top 100. Mainly because I rate his NFL Draft knowledge as being top notch, I went thru my Top 100 and compared my numbers to his at each position.

DANE             POS.           Pigskin

17                    EDGE           13

14                     WR               14

11                      CB                15

10                    LB                 10

10                    OT                  9

9                      IOL                7

7                       S                    8

7                     DT                   7

6                     QB                   5

5                     RB                   7

4                    TE                    5

The numbers are pretty close at most position groups and may be even closer as I am sure he and I have certain players at different position groups. I should also point out that we do NOT have the same 100 names overall in our Top 100 lists. But I felt that these numbers are pretty close with 7 of the 11 groups being the same or differing by only 1.

Just for a bit more detail, I should point out that within my 100 groupings, at this point I do not have the players specifically slotted by a number rank, just alphabetical within those 3 groups. In fact, I have only 287 players within my Top 300. I intended to check Combine numbers before I fill all 300 slots on my Boards. To each his own, as they say.

Within my 287 names, my Star Game (as Colin likes to call them) player breakdowns are as follows:



NFLPA BOWL         19

Some players are counted twice on the list above, since a handful of players end up participating in more than one game during the January/February time slots for said games. With apologies to a handful of other Star Game contests, the numbers of Top 300 prospects are negligible.

Another note on something that grabbed my attention after Star Games were over and I went thru roster sheets one more time, or three. We all knew that DANIEL FAALELE/OT/Minnesota would be the largest human participating in these games this year, perhaps ever. And he is/was! But when I was checking over weigh-in numbers overall, another young man caught my eye. Check out these numbers:

NAME                  School               HGT/WGHT        HAND          ARM      WINGSPAN

Daniel Faalele    Minnesota           6’8 1/4″/387          11″              35 3/8″        86 1/4″

Caleb Jones        Indiana                 6’8 7/8″/369         9 1/2″         36 3/4″        87 3/8″

Let’s just say that those numbers are closer than I might have expected, with JONES leading the way in height, arm & wingspan. Whoa, Nellie!, as Mr. Jackson used to say.

Now quickly to the world of GPS tracking, instead of the old stop-watch for 40 times. Here are the fastest recorded 40-times at the Senior Bowl and Shrine Bowls;

DANNY GRAY      WR   SMU      SR BOWL     22.01 mph    Left venue – injured B4 game.

DaMARCUS FIELDS     CB    Texas Tech     SHRINE   21/77 mph

VELUS JONES     WR/RS  Tennessee   SR BOWL       21.75 mph

SAM WEBB      CB      MO Western      SHRINE     21.51 mph

SAMORI TOURE    WR     Nebraska    SHRINE     21.48    mph

KALON BARNES    CB    Baylor      SHRINE       21.47 mph

ROMEO DOUBS     WR    Nevada    SR BOWL     21.25 mph

Just reporting what was listed during TV broadcasts for the two Bowl Games. I still want to see and hear CHARLIE CASSERLY with his live calls of the 40’s from Indy… hopefully.

Cheers for now, football friends.

Pigskin Paul