Winners and Losers from the Combine- Defense
(Dee Milliner picture above)
NFL combine results of who hurt and helped their draft stock the most. Defense is harder to comment on because there are different types of defenses and players can be rated higher or lower due to this. For me it’ll be tougher to do because positions can vary so much but I’ll do my best to categorize each player.
Defensive tackles– Good, quality players here expect 3 maybe 4 of them to go in the first round depending on teams’ wants and needs
Person who helped their stock the most: Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) – He did everything that he had to at the combine. His problem isn’t whether or not he is ready physically for the NFL but, whether he has the mental aspect of the game in him. When you look at him compared to Floyd or Star, you would think this guy was a second day selection. His game tape doesn’t do justice to his potential. I’m not a fan of people who haven’t proved anything too much but, he does have great potential. He also outperformed the other top defensive tackle there in Floyd (Star didn’t participate; I will get to that shortly). He ran a fairly close time in the 40 to Floyd and then beat him in all the other events and the rest of the competition.
Person whose stock was hurt the most- Sadly it has to be Star Lotulelei (Utah). Although he did absolutely nothing wrong in any way, this heart news will scare away many teams. This could not have come at a worse time and I only hope Star the best. He and Jarvis Jones were once seen as 1 and 2 in this class and now both have conditions that will impact their stock drastically. Star Lotulelei is a dominating defensive tackle who many scouts saw as a clone to Haloti Ngata. Sad news for such a great player.
Defensive end- They really sucked it up at this year’s combine. By far the most disappointing No one really showed up as a shocker or even performed what they were expected to do. I do however think it’s tough for true defensive ends to compete with these 3-4 pass rushes because they are two different positions but that’s how it is.
Person who helped them self the most- Margus Hunt (SMU): He is physically scary period. The man is 6’8”, 275 pounds and ran a 4.6 40. Teams left very impressed with Hunt and I’m not sure if the hype was added because everyone else did so bad. He did also put the bench up 38 times and just seemed like he killed everything he did. He is raw when it comes to football due to the fact he just started playing and another downside is he is 25 already. But, he did just so much better than everyone else and could be seen as a possible first rounder now.
Person who hurt them self the most- Sam Montgomery (LSU): He hurt himself with his stock without touching the field and yes, he did participate. Sam decided that scouts would like to hear him tell them that he took easy games off and that he took plays off. That was an instant turn-off to scouts. He then went on to perform at the combine like an average defensive end. Again it’s tough to judge because he was competing against these small hybrid guys, but that’s just how the NFL is now. Sam Montgomery might have just kicked himself till mid second round now and hurt his stock very much.
Outside Linebackers (A.K.A the Pass Rushers)- This position to me also underperformed. I was just so disappointed when watching these two groups perform (If that’s what you call it) at the combine. Those that ran fast were very small for the position and those that did well in the bench ran very slow.
Person who helped them self the most: Cornelius Washington (Georgia) This is why this position and defensive end are so hard to judge. Some scouts have Washington as a DE and some have him as an OLB. The other two that impressed are viewed as the same type (Mingo (LSU) who I see too small to even be considered a DE and Jordan (Oregon) who has massive potential as well). So I choose to stick with Washington because as I watched him, I personally got scared. If I saw this man on the street there was no way of escaping him, I would be dead. He decided to go out and run a cool 4.55 then bench 225 36 times and just show up anyone else who was doing the drills with him. Perhaps overshadowed at Georgia by the two other great linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Olgetree, he doesn’t have much game tape on him. Don’t expect this guy to be the first off the board and perhaps could go late second day but he definitely had scouts running back to those tapes to see what they missed. I did the same, and saw some spark in his game. I’m not saying he is the next best thing but WOW. One thing I will say about him negatively is that scouts are saying that he is only going to be used in certain situations because he has bad run recognition and isn’t too good in coverage either.
Person who hurt them self the most: Damontre Moore (Texas A&M)– I was really high on this guy coming out of college. It seemed like he was in the backfield all the time and was sacking the opponents QB at a ridiculous rate. So coming into the combine I thought that he was going to run a very good 40 and do well in the drills but, that wasn’t the case. To explain just look at his 40 and bench alone; he ended up running a 4.95 40 and benching 225 only 12 times. As a pass rushing guy, who was supposed to be an expert at it, you would expect him to have either crazy quickness and explosiveness or a very strong person. He proved to scouts neither and now he may fall behind some guys who will be looked at as projects like Ansah from BYU or Jordan from Oregon.
Inside Linebackers- This position to me is one that may be overlooked. The inside linebacker in today’s game is viewed as less valuable than the other defensive positions but, this class has some very good players in it.
Person who helped their stock the most: Ok I’m going to be selfish here and name two people. One who helped himself the most in the scouts’ eyes is Jon Bostic (Florida). He ran a 4.5 as an inside linebacker which is almost unheard of. Also many teams are looking for an inside linebacker that is fast like a Seattle since that’s what teams are focusing on now a days. He was seen as a 4th round talent but may find himself going in the second to third round range. I want to give another person a little shout out. Although he got hurt running the 40 he ran his first 40 in a time of 4.6 which was very impressive to me and that’s A.J. Klein (Iowa State). I really like this kid’s game and when he ran the 4.6 it put some doubts away about his athleticism. It sucks he got hurt right away but I have faith he will produce at the NFL level.
Person who hurt them self the most- Lennay Kekua (Manti Te’o): You’re tired of it, I’m tired of it, and heck I think sportscenter is tired of it (which is almost impossible, Ex: Tebow). He just can’t seem to catch a break these days and the combine did not help. He ran a 4.8 which was average at best and sucked it up at the bench not to mention being average in the shuttle and cone drills. I don’t want to keep pounding the negativity on him so I’ll stop because he doesn’t deserve all of this. (Sorry Lennay)
Cornerbacks- Another position I like in this class has a possibility of 4 people going in the first round. You almost never see and the possibility of safeties going in the first makes this secondary class special.
Who helped them self the most- 4 people helped themselves equally in my eyes. So I’m going to list these people and tell you why quick. Dee Milliner (Alabama) ran a 4.3 40 which made some scouts drop their mouths. That’s all he really needed to do because he could have left after that. Running that 40 time just solidified himself as a top 5 pick in this draft. Second is Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), he had the highest vertical in this entire class and ran a 4.4 40. Because of this you have to view him now as the second corner available and a top 15 pick at least. Next we have Desmond Trufant (Washington). He showed scouts impressive strength by benching 225 14 times for such a quick guy (second fastest shuttle). On top of that he ran a 4.38 40 and solidified himself going in the first round. Lastly is a name that you will most familiar with and that’s the honey badger. Now Tyrann Mathieu may not have had the most impressive combine however, he proved to scouts he still has his quickness. He also showed good ball skills in the drills with what the analysts even called swagger. Look for him to go in the third round.
Person who hurt them self the most- Johnathan Banks (Mississippi State) – I was not as high on him as other scouts were and thought Rhodes was better and he was just barely better than Trufant. He won the best corner back award for college but may have to be the third or fourth one of the board. Banks is a big physical back and may fit with a team like the Seahawks or Jets who look to press you off the line but he just does not possess the speed some scouts thought he had. When looking at his tape he gets burned for his TD’s and it was all because of his speed. Look for Banks to fall to the late first maybe second round due to this performance.
Safeties- The three safeties that will go 1, 2, and 3 in this order are Vacarro (Texas), Elam (Florida) then Reid (LSU). Neither of these safeties changed their stock after the combine but they did very well for themselves. I personally love Elam and would not mind the Jets moving back to get him and get more picks in return. He literally will knock people out of the game. That being said, this is a good group with the top 2 going in the first round.
Person who helped their stock the most- Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse)– He put up the most reps from the safety spot and also ran the fastest 40 time. Scouts say that he is not that good of a football player that he would be a thought in the second or even third round but, he improved his stock dramatically. He was seen as a 7th round pick and now will definitely get drafted before that.
Person who hurt their stock the most- Bradley Mcdougald (Kansas): He was projected as a 7th round pick and most likely now won’t be drafted. I know 7th round to undrafted isn’t a huge hit but for a guy trying to make the NFL it is. Being drafted means you have a chance with a team at least and now Mcdougald lost that. I just didn’t see one thing he did that I said “I can see him doing well in the NFL because of this.” His 40 was bad and so was everything else.
Written by James (J.D.) Hogan follow him on twitter @sportinghogan