The numbers pumped out over the last six days at the NFL Scouting Combine can be both incredibly meaningful, and incredibly useless. We’re well aware of how much of a crapshoot the annual spectacle can be.
But there are still winners and losers, and risers and fallers. There has to be, because even if you don’t care much for the Combine and see it as having minimal value in terms of player evaluation, there are just as many out there who see the opposite. The difference is that they have clipboards, pencils, and stopwatches. We call these people scouts, coaches and general mangers, and they’re responsible for making the Combine an event in which millions of dollars are at stake for a group of elite young men.
Other variables strongly factor into when a player’s name will be called this April. The game film accumulated over a college career clearly carries significant weight, as does a player’s performance at his school’s Pro Day.
The Senior Bowl kicked off draft season, and the Combine was the second major event. Let the draft board shuffling begin.
- After a highly disappointing Senior Bowl performance, Jake Locker cashed in on his opportunity at the Combine. His 40-yard dash time was faster than all but three quarterbacks over the past five years, and his deep ball was enough to impress leading draft analyst Mike Mayock.
- Alabama speedster Julio Jones came to Indy locked into a tight race with A.J Green to be the draft’s top receiver, and he may have left with a slight lead. He bested Green’s 40 time ( Jones ran a 4.39 to Green’s 4.50) and stretched his lead after excelling in both of the jumping categories (Jones had a 38 1/2 vertical jump and a 11’03″ broad jump; Green finished with a 34 1/2 and a 10’06″).
- Patrick Peterson solidified his status as the draft’s top defensive back after running the 40 in 4.34 seconds, the Combine’s second-highest time. There’s little doubt now that he’ll be the highest cornerback selected in the history of the draft.
- North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little had a lot riding on the Combine after missing the entire 2010 college season when he accepted improper benefits. Regarded as one of the most beastly receivers in the draft, Little led his position with 27 reps during the bench press, a total that was more than a few offensive tackles.
- Leading the beast category at linebacker was Von Miller, who posted an incredible 40-yard dash time of 4.53. Miller’s time was well ahead of Aldon Smith, who finished second amongst outside linebackers with a time of 4.78.
- There’s still a tight battle at defensive end. Da’quan Bowers teased by only running and leaving the scouts to see the rest of his showcase at Clemson’s Pro Day. Meanwhile, Cal product Cameron Jordan stayed atop the board with his explosiveness and impressive wing span.
- Stephen Paea added to what was already perhaps the most crowded defensive tackle depth chart in recent years with his record breaking 49 reps in the bench press. Sheer strength alone is an asset, and one that may have vaulted Pea into first round consideration.
- Cam Newton was this year’s Heisman winner, and is under a massive microscope because of his lofty expectations, and the controversy that followed him at Aubrun. Let’s not do anything rash in our evaluation of Newton’s Combine performance, but his poor throwing has made his Pro Day that much more important for a shot at redemption. Newton completed just over 50 percent of his passes, which is quite poor considering the lack of linebackers, defensive backs, and any defence whatsoever.
- Ryan Mallett, one of Newton’s closest competitors at quarterback, received criticism for what came out of his mouth, not what left his hand. Mallett threw well, but could have handled the media a bit better. Then again, reports of Mallett’s poor manners may have been greatly exaggerated.
- Nick Fairley lost ground, and now may not be considered the top defensive tackle. That title could belong to Alabama’s Marcell Dareus, whose better quickness off the line was shown in his 10-second splits when compared to Fairley’s. The difference in their splits is sizable since Dareus weighs in at 319 pounds, and Fairley is 291 pounds.
- JacQuizz Rogers was supposed to be one of the Combine’s fastest running backs after being named a first-team Pac-10 performer in each of his three seasons at Oregon State. That speed didn’t translate with his 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash, which ranked him 27th among running backs.
- Another speedster falling because of his lack of speed at the Combine was wide receiver Vincent Brown from San Diego State, whose time of 4.71 was well behind the position leaders.