Category Archives: NFL Combine

Lunch: Combine Preview Day 4 (CB, S)

The whirlwind of the NFL Scouting Combine is almost completed, with one final day of workouts still in store before teams and players go their separate ways in preparation for individual pro days and ultimately the NFL Draft, which is exactly two months away to the day. Today the true speedsters of the combine hit the turf to show off their skills to the NFL brass, hoping to display speed, quickness, and a strong vertical leap. The cornerbacks and safeties will be put to the test today, and I am previewing top players and sleeper candidates to look out for today, as well as in the draft. Starting with the corners:

Cornerbacks:

Dee Milliner returns an interception. (AP photo by LM Otero)

Dee Milliner returns an interception. (AP photo by LM Otero)

Dee Milliner, CB Alabama

How strange to see another member of the National Champion Crimson Tide at the combine, with 10 members of Nick Saban’s squad demonstrating their skills. In my opinion, Dee Milliner is the best of the bunch and still managed to blend in with the wide array of talent around him and is truly a number 1 corner at the next level. Measuring in at 6’0″ 201 lbs. I believe that Milliner has the size and speed to be an impact corner at the next level and his 40 time could catapult him solidly into the top 10 in the draft. Most people believe him to run in the 4.46-4.5 range, but I would not be surprised to see him run in the 4.36-4.40 and should he do this, he should expect to see a rise in his stock. His best trait on the field is his toughness, able to wrap up on tackles and does not shy away from contact. Teams will be aware, though, that he is participating in the combine injured with a torn labrum and will have surgery to rectify it in March. I still believe that he will have a good showing in Indy and solidify his place at the top of the cornerback chart.

Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State

Rhodes had a strong season at Florida State this season, but has still seen a drop in his stock from last season, and he now sits as a fringe first round player/second rounder. He is a big physical corner measuring in at 6’1″ 210 lbs., a bit down from his playing weight during the season. This hopefully should translate to added speed which could only help him as I don’t believe that he will run well at the combine, running in the 4.5-4.6 range. If he can run in the 4.4 range, he will strongly be in first round consideration, as he is very strong in press coverage and is physical enough to force wide receivers to the outside. It will be interesting to see how he runs, as his time will be a direct reflection on his draft selection. Still, regardless of the 4.4-4.5 time, he is an intriguing prospect and should he drop, a team will get a good bargain on him.

Other Top Names:

  •  Jonathan Banks, CB Mississippi State
  • Desmond Trufant, CB Washington

Under the Radar:

  • Robert Alford, CB Southeastern Louisiana
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Connecticut
  • Tyrann Mathieu, CB Louisiana State

Safeties:

This years safety class looks to be strong up top with good depth and I think that a lot of unknown talent will step up and make themselves known after today. There is currently one player who looks like a solid first round pick up to this point, but I believe we could see 2 more after today that warrant themselves with a first round selection, regardless of whether they get picked there, I think that there is good talent at the top of the safety class. Starting off:

Kenny Vaccaro (Photo: US Presswire)

Kenny Vaccaro (Photo: US Presswire)

Kenny Vaccaro, SS Texas

Vaccaro is this years top safety who as of now could see a top-10 selection, but more than likely top-15, but I believe his workouts will translate well and he will demonstrate the necessary skill et to be a successful safety at the next level. He measured in well at 6’0″ 214 lbs. and has long arms, so his 15 reps on the bench will not be a knock against him. He had a strong final season at Texas racking up 92 tackles and shows that he is unafraid of contact. He looks to be athletic, so we should expect a good vertical leap and a good broad jump, and if he can run in the 4.5-4.6 range it should demonstrate that he can be a great centerfielder at the next level. Look for Vaccaro to work out very well.

Eric Reid, FS Louisiana State

A tackling machine who looks like a tremendous NFL-ready safety, Reid looks to show his talents to the NFL brass, and I believe he will impress in Indy, running and working out well enough to possibly slide into the first round. Reid measured in at 6’1″ 213 lbs. and racked up 91 tackles. He is comfortable playing the run and the pass, dropping back or playing up in the box and rushing the quarterback. He needs to run in the 4.4-4.5 range to solidify a first round grade, which I believe he will do. Look out for Reid and Vaccaro to be a toss up come draft time, with Reid possibly jumping ahead as the top safety.

Other Top Names:

  • John Cyprien, FS Florida International
  • Matt Elam, FS Florida

Under the Radar:

  • T.J. McDonald, FS USC
  • Phillip Thomas, SS Fresno St.

Check back in the next day or two for a follow-up of how the combine fared for many of these players, such as who helped their stock and who dropped. Send us a tweet @theorangewedge to give your thoughts!

Advertisements

Lunch: Combine Preview: Day 1 (TE, OL, ST)

Ed Dickson

The last week in February annually represents more than men cringing realizing how much they just spent on Valentines Day.  It also indicates the unofficial start to the upcoming football season, as the NFL bigwigs flock to Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium in what is the nation’s biggest job interview.  The NFL Combine is a four day event that brings more than 300 eager college football players together to compete for 252 spots on an NFL roster.  Saturday kicks off the festivities, and it sure ain’t bringing sexy back, as the big uglies and overlooked special teamers hit the turf for their fifteen minutes of fame.  I want to preview the players to keep an eye out for, as well as some sleepers who those of you out there in the blogosphere may not know about.  Beginning with the offensive linemen:

Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M

The top offensive lineman available at this point in the process and potential number one overall pick, Joeckel measured in at 6’6″ 306 lbs. Joeckel may go number one overall to the Chiefs, which is fitting since he resembles Andy Reid at 14 years old.

Joeckel has been the consensus top lineman prospect all season long and is truly a bookend left tackle prospect for a few months now, as he is very strong in both the run and pass game.  I believe he is athletic enough that he will impress the scouts in Indy and not lose any ground as the top lineman available.

Chance Warmack, G Alabama

The top guard at this point in the draft process, Warmack weighed in at 6’2″ 317 lbs, down from the 330 he played at during the season.  Warmack has great strength that will be on display at the combine, and while I think that if teams watch his film they will fall in love with him, his on the field workouts will leave much to be desired as his athleticism will not show up in drills.  His film speaks for itself, as he has blocked for Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Eddie Lacy, and his skill set will translate to being a top Guard in the NFL.

Other Top Names:

  • Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
  • Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma

Under the Radar:

  • Menelik Watson, OT Florida State
  • Terron Armstead, OT Arkansas-Pine Bluff

*UPDATE* Turns out Armstead is a workout warrior! The tackle from the little-known Arkansas-Pine Bluff just blazed up faster than Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion) with a 4.65 40 time!  That’s faster than most linebackers from last year’s draft, and Armstead is carrying around a frame of 6’5″ 306 lbs.  His knock is that he played for a small school in the SWAC (SWAC, SWAC, SWAC, on you) but this kid is legit.  Look for a fast rise up the draft boards after a performance like this!

Tight Ends:

ertz

The spot for top tight end available is up for grabs as there are two tight ends equally at the top of the draft that could separate themselves during the combine process.

Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame

The other star at Notre Dame (who probably did have a real girlfriend), Eifert came into the combine measuring at an impressive 6’5″ 250 lbs and led ND with 50 catches, 685 yards and 4 TDs.  He should perform well in the gauntlet challenge which separates the natural pass catchers from the body catchers going over the middle of the field, and has the natural athletic ability to impress the scouts and be the first Tight End off the board in April.  Anyone think “Getting Eifed” has a ring to it?

Zach Ertz, TE Stanford

Almost identical in size to Eifert at 6’5″ 249 lbs, Ertz has recently been surrounded by top NFL talent (see Luck, DeCastro, Fleener) and has the history of being the top tight end recruit in the nation coming out of high school. Ertz put up huge numbers this past season with 69 catches, 898 yards and 6 TDs, so by the numbers game Ertz wins out, but Stanford ran an offense that went through him as the top offensive target. Ertz will run well, but many of the drills will set him behind Eifert as he won’t run strong routes, wont catch the ball with his hands away from his body, and isn’t the strongest of the two. At the end of the day, Tyler Eifert will be the top tight end available.

Other Top Names:

  • Jordan Reed, TE Florida 
  • Gavin Escobar, TE San Diego St.

Under the Radar:

  • Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE Auburn
  • Vance McDonald, TE Rice

Special Teams:

Dustin-Hopkins-AP

For those of you out there who forget about the importance of special teams, look no further, as here at The Orange Wedge, we preview the top special teamers available in the NFL draft and who to look out for at the NFL scouting combine!  (Yeah, we’re THAT good) There are a few names to take notice of, as only a few special teams players are drafted each year.  Starting with the kickers:

Dustin Hopkins, K Florida St

Came into the combine measuring…WHO CARES!? The kid can kick, it don’t matter what his size is!  He could be 4 foot nothing for all I care, as long as he can boot the ball the way he has since high school!  He has only missed one extra point EVER in college (that’s four years, kickers don’t forego their senior years for greener pastures in the NFL) and holds the NCAA FBS Division 1 record for most all-time points by a kicker.  He can flat out kick like Bruce Lee.

Ryan Allen, P Louisiana Tech

Ever hear that lefty’s do it better?  Well look no further than this left-footed booter from deep in the bayou, as Ryan Allen will be a starting NFL punter when next season rolls around (that No. 9 pick is lookin’ mighty tempting Jets fans) as he can absolutely boot the ball.  Two-time Ray Guy award winner as the nation’s top punter (first time thats ever happened folks) who will impress in not only distance punting, but placement as well.  He led the nation with an average of over 48 yards per punt and looks to continue his impressive run in Indy.

Other names to remember:

  • Quinn Sharp, K Oklahoma State
  • Brad Wing, P LSU