19 febbraio 2008

2008 NFL Combine Preview

This from Sigmund Bloom of NFLdraftguys.com

has caught our breath after three all star games and a visit to a training facility. Expect an exciting announcement about those trips in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the draft scene chugs on, with the next stop being at Indianapolis for the NFL combine. We'll have Josh Buchanan reporting from the RCA Dome daily on The Audible, and of course the NFL Network will again deliver unpredecented coverage of the event. We will be watching every player closely, but some have more to gain or lose than others. Here's our list of the biggest stories to watch over the next week out of Indy:


Most to Lose:
Andre Woodson (Kentucky) is losing momentum in the draft stock race. He had an uneven Senior Bowl week, and his flaws are starting to overshadow the parts of his game that are NFL ready. His fall could continue if he doesn't have a good week in Indy.

Most to Gain:
Joe Flacco (Delaware) is an ideal combine QB. He should put the highest number up on the radar gun of any QB at the combine, and he should be one of the two or three tallest. At least a few teams will fall in love with him.

Other Players to Watch:
Colt Brennan (Hawaii) could help his stock with a good week after a disappointing Senior Bowl week that revealed a slight, weak-armed version of the QB we knew. Anthony Morelli (Penn State) should stand out with his size and arm strength. Bernard Morris (Marshall) and Kevin O'Connell (San Diego State) could get more late round attention if they stand out among the best athletes at QB at the combine as expected.


Most to Lose:
Darren McFadden (Arkansas) has slipped from the perception of a top 3-5 type pick, and unless he lights up the combine, he might slip from his presumed status as RB1.

Most to Gain:
Steve Slaton (West Virginia) had a middling Junior year, but the quickness and speed he showed in 2006 seemed rare. If his combine numbers match his highlights, he could get back into the top 50 picks.

Other Players to Watch:
Chris Johnson (East Carolina) and Jamaal Charles (Texas) will put up rare 40 times. Tashard Choice (Georgia Tech) does not have any elite attribute, and is more of a grinder, but with good numbers, his solid game will seem a lot more impressive. Ray Rice (Rutgers) may run a lot faster than anyone expects. RB is one of the positions where a player can make a LOT of money at the combine (see: Chris Henry 2007)


Most to Lose:
The draft community has already factored in Malcolm Kelly's (Oklahoma) rare size/speed/athleticism combination into his grade, with some already putting him at WR1. If he doesn't deliver numbers to match, he could fall back into the pack.

Most to Gain:
Jerome Simpson (Coastal Carolina) has the hands and frame, but his speed and quicks are questions. Simpson can become as high as a 2nd round pick if he hangs with the top athletes in Indy.

Other Players to Watch:

Donnie Avery (Houston) and Dexter Jackson (Appalachian State) are expected to turn heads with their 40 times, but don't be surprised if JayMar Johnson (Jackson State) joins them at the top of the list. Stevie Johnson (Kentucky) is another WR we expect to move up the boards after this week.


Most to Lose:

Fred Davis (USC) has already been hurt by measuring only 6'2" in Mobile. Unless he stands out in the RCA Dome, his status as TE1 is in jeopardy.

Most to Gain:
Jermichael Finley (Texas) and Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M) have always looked like rare physical specimens in the Big 12. Either one could end up being the story of the TEs at the combine.

Other Players to Watch:
Kellen Davis (Michigan State) could crack the top 5 TEs if his numbers match his ability. Brad Cottam (Tennessee) was surprisingly athletic in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and he has a chance to make the first day if he stands out in Indy.


Most to Lose:

Ryan Clady (Boise State) has been presumed to be a top 20 pick from the moment he declared because he is very athletic for a guy with the natural size to play LT in the NFL. He has to deliver on that promise this week.

Most to Gain:

Chris Williams (Vanderbilt) was far and away the best OT in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and he has the chance to do the same in Indy and become a surprise top 10 pick.

Other Players to Watch:
King Dunlap (Auburn) got benched for a true freshman in his Senior year, but his combine numbers could make a lot of teams forget that after this week. Heath Benedict (Newberry) should also be one of the more impressive OL when the results come in.


Most to Lose:

Calais Campbell (Miami-FL) did not produce up to his rare gifts at The U. He needs to put up great numbers have a chance to go in the first round after coming out as a Junior.

Most to Gain:

Tommy Blake (TCU) has not looked the same after a dominant Junior year that made him a presumed first round pick on most lists. He's barely in the draft right now, but if he finds that fire at the combine, he will be one of the more intriguing risks in April. Frank Okam (Texas) has had a similar fall since 2006, but not nearly as dramatic. He's in the middle of the draft right now, but can get into the first day if he reminds NFL teams of the player he was in the past.

Other Players to Watch:
Vernon Gholston (Ohio State), Philip Merling (Clemson), and Derrick Harvey (Florida) need to show that they truly are rare athletes at the DE position after coming out as Juniors. Athyba Rubin (Iowa State) has been rocketing up draft lists since a strong showing in the all star games, and could crack the 2nd round with a good week in Indy.


Most to Lose:
Quentin Groves (Auburn) has to show in LB drills that he can make the transition in the NFL, or he could end up with the dreaded "tweener" label.

Most to Gain:
Jameel McClain (Syracuse) is versatile enough to play ILB, OLB, and put his hand down on third downs in the NFL. With good combine numbers, he might end up as high as a 3rd or 4th round pick.

Other Players to Watch:
Dan Connor (Penn State) is more instincts than athleticism, but decent to good numbers will help solidify his first round grade. Jordan Dizon (Colorado) will win over a lot of teams with a good time to go with his outstanding instincts and all out style of play.


Most to Lose:

Antoine Cason (Arizona State) needs to light up the combine after skipping the Senior Bowl if he wants to remain among the elite CBs.

Most to Gain:
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) has the ability to put up one of the all-time great combine lines with his size, speed, ups, and explosiveness. Antwaun Molden (Eastern Kentucky) has a similar skill set and should move up boards after this week.

Other Players to Watch:

Kenny Philips (Miami-FL) should stand out in a weak safety class. Chevis Jackson (LSU) has proven everything he can on the field, with good combine numbers, he may end up in the first round.

Millions of dollars will made and lost in the RCA Dome. We'll be watching every minute so that you don't miss any of the important developments.

I'm really looking forward to the combine. I remember watching guys like Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, and Brady Quinn last year. And some TE from Delaware.... not sure if he did anything this year. Not like Quinn did either. I remember there were all of these injury concerns about AP.... and what happened? NFL ROY, 2nd leading rusher, Pro Bowl MVP..... not bad! Calvin Johnson did well this year, Quinn didn't take a snap. It'll be interesting to read my draft coverage 5 years from now to see who became a star and who fizzled out.

I want to name a couple of guys who I hope the Giants get:
S: Kenny Phillips, Zbikowski (apparently a really hard hitter!)
CB: Reggie Smith, Aqib Talib, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Leodis McKelvin, Antoine Cason, Brandon Flowers, DeJuan Tribble
LB: Erin Henderson, Dan Connor, Xavier Adibi, Tavares Gooden, Ali Highsmith, Ezra Butler, Beau Bell, Jerod Mayo, Ben Moffitt
WR: Early Doucet, Limas Sweed, Mario Manningham, Lavelle Hawkins, Adrian Arrington, Dexter Jackson, Ryan Grice-Mullen

Some early predictions -

Guys who will become NFL STUDS
DT Sedric Ellis
QB Matt Ryan
QB Chad Henne
WR Adrian Arrington
CB Dominique Rodgers Cromartie
RB Rashard Mendenhall
TE Jermichael Finley
RB Jamaal Charles
WR Early Doucet
QB John David Booty

Guys who will become NFL BUSTS
RB Darren McFadden
FS Kenny Phillips
QB Andre Woodson
DE Calais Campbell
RB Tashard Choice
RB Mike Hart

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