Wednesday, March 2, 2016

NFL Combine Pt 2: Defense

Draft Nuggets 2016: Entry #10
By Jeff Bowers of

NFL Scouting Combine: Part Two Defense

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

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma St – Ogbah entered the Combine with an early 2nd round grade and some question if even that was too high. But a blazing 4.63 in the 40 and 35.5” arms on the 6’4” 273lbs Ogbah vaulted him right up into mid-1st round contention.

Charles Tapper, DE, Oklahoma – Most had Tapper scouted as a 3rd-4th round prospect that never really showed explosiveness at OU and has technical flaws. But a 4.59 in the 40 at 6’3” 271lbs, a 34” vertical and 23 reps with 34” arms showed that Tapper has worked hard since the end of his college season and might be a steal in the 2nd-3rd round.

Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville – Though already expected to do well at the Combine, Rankins did all that and more, looking smooth and powerful in the drills. Rankins might have jumped several other fellow prospects to be the #2 DT off the board in April.

Connor Wujciak, DT, Boston College – If you are an analytics guy, Wujciak is your diamond in the rough. Measuring 6’2” 291lbs, Wujciak ran a 4.91 in the 40, had a 34.5” vertical and did 22 reps of 225lbs. As a 3-4 DE, Wujciak could be a Day 3 walk-in starter.

Darron Lee, LB, Ohio St – With the other 2 top LBs not able to go, Lee took advantage to cement him solidly in round      1 with a 4.47 in the 40, a 35.5” vertical and an 11’1” standing broad jump. Lee is the #2 stand-up LB on the board now.

Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia – Count me among the skeptics on Floyd entering the Combine, as I too often saw him get washed out on running plays for the Bulldogs at an estimated 232lbs at OLB. But Floyd added weight (6’6” 244lbs) and could add more, still ran a 4.6 in the 40 and had a 39.5” vertical. Floyd is likely the #1 OLB in a 3-4 scheme in this draft class.

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State – Coming into the Combine, many scouts were uncertain if Apple would be better at CB or FS, making him a borderline 1st-2nd round prospect. But a smoking 4.4 in the 40 and an incredibly fluid workout has Apple in the late 1st easily and rising.

William Jackson III, CB, Houston – Jackson raised some concerns with his weigh in (6’0” 189lbs) being much shorter and lighter than advertised. But a 4.37 in the 40 and great hands in the drills has him solidly in the 2nd round mix.

Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida St – Ramsey absolutely killed it at the Combine and cemented his place as the best player in this draft. At 6’1” 209lbs, Ramsey ran a 4.41 in the 40, had a 41.5” vertical and a 6.94 in the 3-cone drill displaying speed, leaping and quickness. Every team that passes on Ramsey will regret it.

Justin Simmons, S, Boston College – Simmons really surprised me with his Combine performance and sent me scrambling for game tape. The 6’2” 202lbs safety had a 40” vertical and a ridiculous 6.58 in the 3-cone drill. Though very raw, Simmons might become the all-coveted cover safety so in vogue in today’s NFL.

Stock DOWN

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern KY – After a dominating Senior Bowl performance, momentum was building for Spence to be in the Top 10 on the draft. However, a very pedestrian 4.8 in the 40, even more pedestrian drills and (by all accounts) nearly disastrous interview with drug concerns might have Spence completely out of round 1.

A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama – Many had Robinson as the #1 or #2 DT in the class, but a slow 5.2 in the 40 and a awful 26” vertical could have Robinson sliding with lack of explosion concerns.

Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame – This absolutely breaks my heart. Smith, once a top 5 talent before ripping up his knee in the Fiesta Bowl, looked painful trying to step up to get weighed in and received many failing medical checks. Smith will simply be a Day 3 flyer (think RB Marcus Lattimore in 2013) who may never get a chance to play in the NFL.

Harlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana – Miller came in very hyped by some off of the Senior Bowl (though I watched every practice and never really noticed him). But a 4.65 in the 40 for a 5’11” 182lbs corner and only 6 reps on the bench make Miller much closer to a Day 3 long-term prospect.

Jordan Lomax, S, Iowa – As the saying goes “you can be short or you can be slow, but you can’t be short and slow.” Lomax is 5’9” 202lbs running a 4.75 in the 40 and only 8 reps on the bench. Undraftable.

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