There are almost always two sides to every story. After giving you a couple of articles detailing some Star-Game winners, I felt obliged to make note of some guys who just did not measure up to the competition around them, both in St. Pete and Mobile. It doesn’t mean that they won’t be on Training Camp rosters next Summer, but I am implying that they will need to raise their level of work at the Combine and/or Pro Day venues between now and the Draft, to get any serious consideration in the Draft itself.
RYAN DAVIS WR/RS AUBURN 5’9/179 9.25″HANDS
I highlighted Davis’ hand size above, because that should be viewed as a positive at his height and overall body size. Though he showed the quicks we expected off the snap, he had difficulty getting separation. More importantly, he had more issues with dropped balls and general ball security. The League has found roster spots for more little guys as receivers and return men, thanks to their quickness, and despite showing that quickness, it seldom resulted in production during the week at the Trop. In fact, the only number posted by DAVIS in game action was one fair catch on a punt. That is not what he wanted to show.
JOE DINEEN LB KANSAS 6’2/232 8 5/8″H 30″A 71 7/8″WS
The Jayhawks had two players in this game, with DINEEN being the more prominent name. However, his teammate, DANIEL WISE/DT, stole the show on this occasion. I made it a point to ID DINEEN, and to watch for him to show well in the LB group, but it did not happen for him, either in practices or the game. He looked and played smaller than his height/weight indicated. His hands and arms were way below average for his frame. His wingspan was downright puny. He also failed to show the quickness to chase down the ball and make plays. His only mark on the game stat sheet was 1 assisted tackle. DINEEN had disappeared from player discussion long before the game rolled around.
ALEC EBERLE OC FLORIDA ST 6’3/295 9 3/4″H 31 1/8″A
I actually felt sorry for EBERLE at this venue, because he clearly was hustling and trying to be a productive teammate, but it just didn’t happen. In most drills, and during the game, he was dominated by stronger, more athletic defenders. During the game, he was part of an OL unit that had QB TA’AMU running for his life from unblocked pass rushers. EBERLE’s most notable work was most often helping TA’AMU back up to his feet after multiple sacks. I am sorry to say that this hard working young man was more than overmatched all week.
KHALIL HODGE IB BUFFALO 6’011/255
There were an awful lot of gaping mouths on Tuesday when we all found out that HODGE, a tackling machine for the resurgent Buffalo defense, had weighed in at 255 lbs. Most of us expected him at about 240. His lower body looked absolutely huge, and he had trouble moving it around the field on many drills. Word began to circulate by Wednesday, that his advisors had told him to put on the weight. With friends giving advice like that, who needs enemies?! Just like DINEEN, but for the opposite reasons, HODGE also recorded only 1 assisted tackle in game action. I had felt that coming off of his senior season, the last thing this guy needed to do, in preparation for today’s NFL, was to bulk up and mitigate his pursuit quickness to the ball. It was a bad look at the Shrine venue. I advise HODGES to lose at least 10 pounds before the Combine, and maybe shake up the composition of his support team.
JUSTIN SKULE OT VANDERBILT 6’064/314 9 1/2″H 33 3/4″A 80″WS
Sorry to say that the best part of SKULE’s work at the Shrine venue, was during the weigh in. As you can see above, he measured up to pro standards for an OT. But once in pads, and out on the field, things went downhill for Justin. He displayed little, to no, agility or quickness. His feet appeared to be stuck in ankle deep mud. I would say that he also showed below average functional strength when matched up with DL, despite outweighing them by 20+ pounds, in most cases. It got no better, in my eyes, on game day. I expect a Combine snub and some pretty marginal testing numbers at his Pro Day.
ZACH ALLEN DE BOSTON COLLEGE 6’043/280 10 1/4″H 34 1/2″A 79″WS
ALLEN’s size numbers are not awe inspiring, but most of them would still be considered at, or above, average. However, he just failed to show enough quicks to do much damage in drills. In fact, I am not sure that I saw any one player on the ground more than ALLEN, in practices, and the most often heard cry from coaches during practices were, “Stay up”, “get off the ground”. When he couldn’t generate any pass rush, he found himself splitting playing time with a very crowded North DE group, and ended up with no stats at the end of the game. However, instant replay by NFL Network, clearly showed that the missed PAT on the first South TD, was tipped by a leaping effort from ALLEN. Not to make excuses for ALLEN, but his athleticism/size/skill set combination is a better fit in the NFL of 10 years ago than today. I doubt he will blow scouts away with his numbers at the Combine either. He may even get pushed out of the Top 100, if he can’t produce more in Indy.
DENNIS DALEY OT SOUTH CAROLINA 6’5/304 33 3/4″A 9 5/8″H 81 1/2″WS
Despite a nice season’s work at OT for the Gamecocks, DALEY was clearly the 4th of 4 tackles for the South OL. His weigh-in numbers are solid, though he may actually be a bit light at 304, and certainly needs more functional strength, but he also was slow of foot, and did not absorb the first hit from DE’s well in pass pro. He was a slow dancing bear, and was chasing defenders to make his blocks, much of the time. This venue was a large opportunity for him to step up and stand out, but I don’t feel like he did. In his Senior Bowl snapshot, Daley did not come across as a top notch Draft prospect.
JAYLEN SMITH WR LOUISVILLE 6’02/221 8 3/8″H 33 5/8″A 79 1/8″WS
As the week progressed, it became clear that those small hands, on a rather large receiver’s frame, were just too much to overcome. JAYLEN just simply dropped way too many balls to be taken seriously as a Draft prospect. We can take a bit of solace in the fact that he did catch one ball during the game. I think it was also fair to say, that his route running accomplished little, in the way of separation, most of the time. Those small hands are going to be hard to overcome, and certainly help to explain his drops, both in Mobile, and for the Cardinals last season. He also is likely to post some pedestrian speed and quickness times.
SUTTON SMITH OB/ER N. ILLINOIS 6’003/234 9″H 30 5/8″A 73 1/2″WS
From the very first look at SMITH during the player weigh-in session, the word “small” surfaced. That image, and the word small, were hard for him to shake the rest of the week. Everyone knew that he was undersized coming into the proceedings, and quickness was his primary asset. His speed/quickness and effort were never in question during his time in Mobile, but his productivity in practices, and the game, was disappointing. It also hurt that his hand size, arm length, and wingspan, were all well below the norm for an NFL athlete. His effort, for the most part, made it hard not to root for him, but the results were all too reflective of his lack of size. In that sense, the game was far from the ideal chance for him to show his thing, which is edge-rushing. With the game using a base 4-3 scheme, and NO Blitzing, SUTTON had to settle for 1 tackle on the day. Other than his effort, the week didn’t help his cause as a legit draft prospect. A team that takes him, even in the late rounds, (6/7), will still be rolling the dice on a guy who might, at best, be a situational pass-rusher and Special Teamer.
OSHANE XIMINES ER/OB OLD DOMINION 9 3/8″H 33 3/8″A 78 1/8″WS
When Senior Bowl week was over, I gave my Invisible Man award to XIMINES. He did not catch my eye once during practices, and was even more invisible on game day. Though he played in the game, XIMINES failed to even make the final Defensive Stat sheet. I am guessing that he was somewhat hurt by his size, in a game where only a standard 4-3 D scheme is currently allowed. He was too small, and not strong enough, to play with his hand on the ground, against all these high quality, large sized OT’s in the player pool, and he clearly was not considered as ready to stand-up and play LB in a game where blitzing is prohibited. All-in-all, this venue may have been less than ideal for this type of player. Whatever the case, I do not remember noticing him all week after the weigh-in.
I want to emphasize that all of these guys appeared to be trying to do their best at their respective game weeks, and they still have chances to help their stock. But the sad reality is, that overall, they looked overmatched once the hitting started. Good luck to all of them, finding ways to impress/improve, going forward.