Monday, February 29, 2016

NFL Combine Pt 1: Offense

Draft Nuggets 2016: Entry #9
By Jeff Bowers of

NFL Scouting Combine: Part One Offense

The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books. By this point in the offseason, most teams have assessed their needs, circled their targets in free agency (which begins March 9th) and have a pretty good idea of what their draft board will look like. The Combine generally serves as an affirmation of the scouting and game tape they have assembled. However, occasionally a prospect’s performance (or interview/drug test) will send scouts and GMs scrambling to rethink their evaluation, both in a positive or negative way. Here are the players who most helped and hurt themselves at this year’s Combine:

Stock UP

Dak Prescott, QB, Miss State – While Prescott looked mostly as projected in drills, he really impressed in team interviews (by all reports). A solid leader with real football intelligence has many teams overlooking his accuracy concerns and has his stock as high as late 2nd-early 3rd and most likely the 5th QB off the board.

Ezekial Elliot, RB, Ohio State – It’s usually difficult to raise your stock if you are already the #1 prospect at your position, but Elliot absolutely owned the Combine. A 4.47 in the 40 and smooth work in drills has him potentially in the Top 10 of this draft.

Daniel Lasco, RB, California – While probably best served as a 3rd down/change-of-pace back, Lasco showed really impressive explosiveness (4.46 in the 40, 41.5” vertical and 11’3” broad jump) and strength (23 reps of 225lbs) for a man his size (6’ 209lbs) that should separate him from the pack in rounds 3-5.

Josh Doctson, WR, TCU – Though not as tall as reported in college (6’2” 202lbs), Doctson none the less vaulted easily into the #2 WR on my board and with a late 1st-early 2nd round grade. A 4.5 in the 40 and a 41” vertical in addition to smooth hand-catching in drills shows why Doctson was so dominant at TCU.

Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame – A 4.32 in the 40 is bound to get you noticed but Fuller offered even more than that in drills. While not ideal by size (6’0 186lbs and 8.25” hands) Fuller mastered the gauntlet drill and looked like potentially the best deep threat in this WR class.

Ben Braunecker, TE, Harvard – No report on if Braunecker aced the Wunderlic test yet, but his Combine numbers were definitely noticed. At 6’3” and 250lbs, Braunecker ran a 4.73 in the 40 and did 20 reps of 225lbs on the benchpress. A solid sleeper pick at TE.

Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State – Conklin came into the Combine as the #3 or #4 OT on some boards with questions of whether he could play LT or would have to stay at RT. Conklin left the Combine as a potential Top 15 pick with clear LT potential due to terrific footwork in drills and 35” arms.

Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech – Clark has that magical word attached to prospects with mixed game tape but excellent measurables: POTENTIAL. The longest arms in the OT class (36.125”) and nice mobility could have Clark sniffing the bottom of round 1 in April.

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama – Kelly looked masterful throughout the Combine and got rave reviews in meetings. It is rare to see a center go in round 1, but Kelly has earned it with his Combine performance.

Christian Westerman, G, Arizona St – Most scouts saw Westerman as a very mobile, zone-blocking scheme guard based on game tape. But 34 reps on the benchpress (the most among OL prospects) think he could be that and more and cemented him in round 2.

Stock DOWN

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State – After a stellar freshman season, Hackenberg regressed at his time in Happy Valley. Some attributed that to poor OL play or the loss of key weapons. But in drills at the Combine, Hackenberg looked like he did in later years with poor footwork, accuracy and poise. He seems like much more of a project late rounder than a Day 2 guy.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama – After a very impressive Senior Bowl, Drake looked to be putting the injury concerns that plagued him at Alabama behind him. However, with on 10 reps on the bench press (the worst among RBs) Drake has shown his lack of time spent in the weight room conditioning himself for the pro game. Drake seems like a KR specialist more than a complimentary runner.

Rashard Higgins, WR, CSU – “Hollywood” Higgins showed a lack of explosiveness hardly worthy of his nickname. Maybe he plays above his statistics in games but that is probably a gamble worth taking no earlier than Day 3 of the draft.

Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas – Though still the #1 TE on the board, Henry’s weak bench (13 reps) probably ends any thoughts of him being 1st round talent.

Vadal Alexander, G/T, LSU – Though he played OT at LSU and some at the Senior Bowl, Alexander’s complete lack of mobility in space (illustrated by a 1.92 time in 10-yd split and a 8.04 in 3 cone drill) clearly shows he is purely a guard prospect, though a very good one.

Nila Kasitai, G, Oklahoma – A lineman that only puts up 12 reps on the bench is inexcusable. Kasitai is not even a draftable prospect for me currently.

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