Ladies and Gentlemen, the path to the NFL draft is officially upon us.
The scouting combine in Indianapolis that we here at The Orange Wedge have been covering every step of the combine, previewing who the top players and who to look out for as a potential surprise. Now that the combine has come to a finish, the next steps are individual pro days and the draft itself. The combine truly is the biggest test leading up to the draft and after this past weekend it is clear which players are on the rise and which players are on the fall heading towards April.
Players on the rise:
Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia
Blazing speed, great hands, and a productive season have catapulted this diminutive wide out to potentially the top half of the first round of the draft. Austin turned heads with his official 4.34 40 time and impressed the scouts with his ability to catch the ball away from his body. Look for a rise much like Kendall Wright from Baylor who had a second or third round grade going into the combine and ended up as the 20th overall selection by the Tennessee Titans after a strong showing in the combine. Teams are looking at Austin as a potential number 2 or slot receiver threat, and a dangerous option in the return game. Look for his name to be called early on day 1.
Dion Jordan, DE/OLB Oregon
When people talk about tough, Dion Jordan’s name and face should come to mind. The Oregon defensive end who turned heads in Indy showed great speed, running a 4.60 40, and athletic ability while standing up, something that he should get used to as he will most likely be playing rush linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Prior to the draft Jordan looked like he was slotted in between picks 7 and 15 but now I believe he shot himself way up to pick #1 or #2 consideration (most likely second, though). As far as his toughness goes, he did all of this with a shoulder injury that will force him to get surgery next week and will knock him out for 3-4 months.
Terron Armstead, OT Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Raise your hand if you have ever heard of Arkansas-Pine Bluff before this. No seriously, I’ll wait. I expect all arms to be down and in the locked position next to your sides because as Lebron James would say:
GET THAT S*** OUTTA HERE!
Armstead took the field by storm running a 4.71 40, an all time high for an offensive tackle and made what I believe will be the greatest jump, moving from fringe 5th round consideration all the way up to a solid 2nd round pick, potentially a first rounder if a team truly falls in love with his athletic ability. He had a great senior bowl prior to this weekend and looks to be telling teams “Don’t be scared of the small school, heck where did Jerry Rice go to college?” Exactly. This kid’s a baller.
Players on the decline:
Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
You really have to feel bad for this kid here as this knock has nothing to do whatsoever with talent, athletic ability, or how he performed at the combine. The night before the defensive line workouts Lotulelei was diagnosed with a serious heart condition that kept him out of working out at the combine and led to further testing. This drops him to middle of the first round to possibly out completely depending on the results from his medical visit. I am really hoping that the news is not terribly serious as he is a great talent and I would love to see him strap it up on Sundays and not have his career derailed because of medical reasons.
Damontre Moore, OLB Texas A&M
Damontre Moore all season long looked to be and played at the level of a top OLB , another rush linebacker from A&M much in the mold of a Von Miller, and his senior bowl performance only added to his acclaim. His performance in Indy, though, left a lot to be desired and he looks to have dropped himself to the middle or end of the first round, running his way out of a potential $3 million clocking in at 4.95 and only posting 12 reps on the bench. He really needs to impress at his pro day and believe me teams will be taking notice. With a strong pro day he can push his stock back up towards the top, but he has clearly been surpassed by other players who put in strong showings in Indy.
You didn’t think we would be talking combine and not talking about Te’o did you? Wheres Katie Couric when you need her? Te’o was the talk of the weekend after his Catfish incident and teams put a target on his back in the hope that he would not only interview well but would also test well. Prior to his on field workouts, it was reported that teams were elated with his interviews and that he really created a positive buzz, but all of that was erased when he laced it up and hit the track. Te’o as an inside linebacker needed to run below or at a 4.7 4o time in order to keep his arrow pointing upwards, but his 4.85 stinker dropped him solidly out of the first round, and with the media hype surrounding him, teams may be wary of spending even a second round pick on him, instead looking for a player with equal or greater talent that won’t be surrounded by the media circus. It is obvious then, that the Jets will be selecting Te’o. Could you imagine the Tebow/Te’o show? I can just picture it now, one won’t get laid cause of Jesus, while the other made it up the whole time. Classic! Seriously, though, I could see Te’o sliding into the 3rd round unless he shows tremendous improvement at his pro day.
All of this could change in the coming weeks with the pro days, and the draft still is a while away. Think of any other players you think are rising or falling? Comment or send us a tweet @theorangewedge and let us know your thoughts!