– Another Combine is in the books, so here are some of my final thoughts of my time in Indianapolis:
- I have always believed that the most important part of the Combine is the medical information that teams gather from their doctors and trainers. Just remember that the health of these players is more important than how fast they run the 40 yard dash. Maybe the folks at Utah had an idea that Star Lotuleilei had a heart condition but until this week, the NFL didn’t. He is a top five player on many boards, let’s see if that still is the case.
- Did the performance of offensive tackle Eric Fisher this week put him ahead of Luke Joeckel on some teams draft board? In the games I was able to study pre Combine, I thought it was very close between the two players and I was looking to this Combine to settle some of the questions that I had. The strength numbers were identical as was the vertical jump. Where Joeckel was better was on the three cone drill but Fisher ran a better 40 and 20 shuttle. What I was very interested in were those strength numbers because there were times on tape where Joeckel didn’t play as strong like in the Florida game. I still believe it will still be very close between these two who sits higher on that final draft board and right now on my board, that would be Fisher.
- If there are questions at offensive tackle, there are the same questions at guard. I am not surprised that Jonathan Cooper had the type of Combine that he did. He is clearly a better athlete on tape and scouts fall in love with that type of ability. The fact that he took some reps during the drills at center planted a nice seed in scout’s minds that there could be some position flex with him if you select him. Chance Warmack is an old school guard that is a mauler, brawler which will not show up during a Combine but like the Joeckel and Fisher debate, will teams have Cooper over Warmack? In my mind I really do believe there are more things that you can do with Cooper and that is why I give him the nod over Warmack.
- Would Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett consider offensive tackle Lane Johnson over a guard, defensive tackle or safety on the board at 18 if he was there? I believe they would unless that player was say defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. My gut tells me that this team will do a great deal of digging on Johnson to learn as much as they could about him. Before this Combine I thought he was a top 25 player, but after studying his film and seeing his workout, I have him moving up into the top 20.
- The top three tight ends in this draft are Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz and Gavin Escobar and the player that I thought would be the best fit with Witten and Hanna would have been Travis Kelce but he did not workout at the Combine so I will have to wait on those numbers. My thought is this team needs a player that can be a point of attack blocker that can be an inline “Y” and I believe that Kelce can do those types of things. The player that look good moving around was Vance McDonald but the majority of his blocks are not done as a “Y’ but in space. His 31 reps on the bench surprised me and what you have to be careful of is weight room strength over functional strength and this might be the case with McDonald.
- I am still interested in Ziggy Ansah and where he might end up in this draft. Let me say this, he is not Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants but there looks like of plenty of traits that a team can work with here. I really believe that his best football is ahead of him. I mean this as no disrespect to the BYU program but he seems to have improved every time that I had seen him work. Because of his build, I believe that you can add strength to him. He had 21 reps at 225 but this kid has not played much football and is really late to the development of his body. A team will take him and work with him day in and day out to not only get his ready to play but with his technique and he could become a dynamic player off the edge.
- I was speaking with some scouts from another team after the defensive linemen completed their workouts and the talk centered around Margus Hunt and where you would play him on defense. We all know the position that he plays is defensive end and at 6-8, 277 it seems to be a natural fit but there are times where you watch him play on tape, he doesn’t play like a guy that did 225, 38 times. He will tend to get stuck on blocks and doesn’t shed all that well. The thought among the scouts was would a team consider playing him at tight end? He has rare height and weight for the position and with 4.60 speed could you find ways to use those numbers to create a mismatch player down the field. There is no doubt that he will be drafted as a defensive end and he will be used as one but could he be even better working on offense?
- There were 21 defensive ends that worked out for the scouts as linebackers as well and the only one that I thought looked comfortable doing it was Dion Jordan of Oregon and that is because he played the position. I didn’t see Ziggy Ansah, Lavar Edwards, or Bjoern Werner, who are all good athletes, having a real feel dropping in space and breaking on the ball. This might be a good break now that the Cowboys have switched back to a 4-3 scheme.
- Here is an example of a players that looks outstanding on their college tape but when they worked out, the numbers didn’t translate. Linebacker Kevin Minter and cornerback Jonathan Banks were two players that I loved on tape and were really looking forward to seeing them work out but they laid a big egg numbers wise. I am not naïve enough to believe that the Combine is the end all, be all but it was disappointing. It was troubling to see D.J. Fluker only manage to get 21 reps on the bench and Manti Te’o run the 40 in 4.82. I honestly was surprised to see Ace Sanders who is a dynamic return man only manage 4.58. There is no doubt in my mind that all of the players will improve on their numbers when they have their Pro Days at their schools. I have seen it every year that I have been in this league. Joe Haden of the Browns is a great example of this who had a terrible time at the Combine but on his day at Florida bounced back nicely then went 6th overall to the Browns.
- While I was speaking of Combine numbers both good and bad, I know that folks that are safety Kenny Vaccaro fans are disappointed in his 40 yard dash time of 4.63 as I am sure he is but let’s dig a little deeper into his workout. His vertical jump of 38’ is outstanding but his 20 shuttle of 4.06 was the best of the safeties plus he was able to bench 225, 15 times. Just to give you an idea how good that time was, elite cornerbacks in the league have shuttle times under 4.00 seconds. One of the many strengths of Kenny Vaccaro is his ability to cover out of the slot and to play out of the slot you have to have quickness and the ability to adjust on the move. On tape, Vaccaro is outstanding at doing this. Like I mentioned before, his 40 time will improve on his Pro Day when the University of Texas goes in March and he will still keep his position as the first safety off the board and potentially a consideration for the Cowboys at 18.