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Scout's Eye: A Few Names To Watch At The NFL Combine
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Scout's Eye with some thoughts on the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine:
- It appears that Offensive Line Group 2 is the one to keep an eye on when it comes to tackles: Taylor Lewan, Zach Martin, Jake Matthews, Moses Morgan and Greg Robinson are working with this group.
In this group there are also guards: Cyril Richardson, Xavier Su'A-Filo and David Yankey. Martin and Matthews will be working back-to-back and should provide some interesting scouting. Traditionally the OL group is very competitive and tends to feed off each other's energy -- I believe these players will be no different.
- We have learned that in Group 4, Johnny Manziel will not throw at the Combine. But in that group as well are Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. We know Bortles will work and if Bridgewater and Carr decide to as well, you will see those quarterbacks go back-to-back with only Tajh Boyd between them.
Keep an eye on Carr, who in my early film study was outstanding in his work at Fresno State. The buzz is all about Bortles as we head to Indianapolis, but any one of these other quarterbacks, with an outstanding week of interviews and workouts, could easily put their name ahead of his. In this group as well are James Garoppolo and AJ. McCarron, who are both trying to put themselves in Day 2 talk for the draft.
- Two quarterbacks that will not get to throw because of injury are Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray. Both are in Group 5 and would have been considered early prospects had they not suffered knee injuries during the season. In that group keep an eye on Connor Shaw, who some scouts are interested to see how well he does in this setting.
- This wide receiver group appears to be a deep one. At the combine, an average player can become a star if the right quarterback is throwing to him. Group 4 has the advantage of those quarterbacks, so projected top receivers Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Evans should be on point.
Coming out of Group 5 will be Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins. I have been at Combines in the past where you could see the frustration level of these receivers rise as the workout progresses if their quarterbacks are throwing the ball all over the place. I’ll be paying close attention to who is throwing these passes to the receivers, especially if it appears they are having a rough day.
- Group 6 is made up of the running backs. Carlos Hyde is the name that everyone is talking about, but just taking a peek at a couple of guys -- Tyler Gaffney, Jeremy Hill, Tre Mason, Lache Seastruck and Andre Williams -- all look solid on tape. Each of these guys have a unique style in the way they carry the ball, and with teams relying on more than just one back to carry the load, we will see some strong consideration for each. In the group, there are two true fullbacks in J.C. Copeland and Trey Millard for scouts to evaluate.
- It appears that between the Groups 7 & 8, made up of the defensive line, that 7 is the better of the two. Jadeveon Clowney is the headliner with Aaron Donald, Kony Ealy, Dominique Easley, Ra'Shede Hageman, Timmy Jernigan and Dee Ford in the group.
It will be interesting how teams sort out those players like Ford, DeMarcus Lawrence and Marcus Smith that are those "tweener" types. Teams had better have a solid plan in what they are going to do with these players, because making mistakes on what they can and cannot do will determine how good or bad your defense really is getting pressure and playing the run.
- Keep an eye on C.J. Mosley this week and how he works out. Mosely is one of the linebackers in Group 9, and there are some interesting options that he could bring to this defense if he were to be drafted by the Cowboys. He would play as a middle linebacker, or a Mike, in this scheme and that would allow you to maybe take advantage of the skill sets that you currently have with guys like Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman. Jonathan Brown is another linebacker that I have heard some whispers about so keep an eye on him and fellow Big 10 opponent, Ryan Shazier.
- The final groups working at the Combine are Groups 10 & 11 and that would be the defensive backs. There is a reason that these players are usually the last ones -- because of the excitement they can generate with their speed.
This year there is a nice mix of that speed along with some size. There will be several defensive backs that will measure well over 6-1 but there will also be a couple of guys that are top flight players that will be lucky to crack 5-9. LaMarcus Joyner and Jason Verrett have been a pleasure to have studied on tape.
There are clubs that are projecting Joyner as a safety, but I really like him as a nickel corner that can also play on the edge to handle the run. Verrett is never hard to find on tape because of his hair flying out of his helmet but more importantly his ability to play man coverage.
Both of these players, because of their lack of height, have to make up for it with quickness and toughness. My favorite safety in the draft is Calvin Pryor, so I will be interested to see how he works, but I am just as interested in Jimmie Ward. In my view, what this Cowboys defense needs is a true free safety and in what I have seen so far in my early study, Pryor or Ward could be that guy or converting a cornerback like Dontae Johnson in that role.