“What am I looking for as I watch the NFL Scouting Combine?”
You may be asking yourself this question as you sit glued to the TV this weekend watching the Combine. I’m here to help you know what to keep an eye on, what to believe, what to ignore, and how a little knowledge will help you understand how the 2016 NFL season will unfold. On-field workouts begin today as Offensive Linemen, Running Backs, and Special Teamers hit the field to show their stuff for NFL scouts and management. Let’s Dive In!
Main People to Watch:
Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State)
- Only first round-worthy running back in this Draft. Can be an every-down back with his ability to block and catch the ball. He is easily in the first round discussion, but we don’t know where. He may go as high as Todd Gurley (10th overall last year). He has more potential than Melvin Gordon (15th overall last year). A solid workout proving his elite speed, lateral agility, and soft hands will create more buzz for him to possibly get selected in the top 15 of the 1st round.
Derrick Henry (Alabama)
- He’s this year’s Heisman Trophy winner and will most likely be selected in the 2nd round. Personally, I’m not sold on that idea yet. He is the classic power back that has the tools to be a weapon for an offense that needs a bruising tailback. He needs to show off some speed during workouts. The issue that you will hear about concerning Henry is his natural tall frame, which makes him a bigger target for hits and easier to locate behind the offensive lineman. He needs to show some elite athleticism to really be looked upon as the 2nd best back in the Draft.
Laremy Tunsil (Mississippi)
- Easily the top tackle in the Draft and you will see why on Friday. Smooth and fluid with his body, he won’t make it past #3 overall.
Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame)
- A great tackle that won’t get as much praise as Tunsil, but still a franchise worthy left tackle prospect.
Cody Whitehair (Kansas State)
- I personally see him as a first round prospect with his skill and versatility. You will see that watching him plant and move quickly and decisively on Friday.
Who will be a surprise performer that will create some buzz:
Paul Perkins (UCLA) – In the NFL he will be looked at to provide a spark from the backfield on 3rd downs and passing situations. Very good in the open field and may have a nice number in his 40-time.
Le’Raven Clark (Texas Tech) – He will look good on Friday and possibly carry himself to end of the 1st round discussion as an offensive lineman that could play tackle or guard.
Who needs a good performance:
Alex Collins (Arkansas) – A pro-style back, well built that will really entice teams due to his size/athleticism ratio. Has had some issues to work on and will need to be coached up, but he has the potential to be one of the best backs from this draft. He could become the #2 back after this weekend if Derrick Henry has a less than stellar day.
Taylor Decker (Ohio State) – Lately has been trending downward and falling towards the end of the 1st round. Needs to have a solid day to stay in the mid-1st round discussion. He has the athleticism to be a good left tackle in the NFL.
Who Needs to Avoid a Bad Performance
Derrick Henry (Alabama) – If he can show he has the speed to match his power, he will guarantee himself that he won’t fall past the Cowboys at #34 overall. Rumors could also begin about him possibly being a late Round 1 selection to a team like the Broncos or Seahawks.
Aaron Green (TCU) – I’m personally a big fan of Green’s game and what he can do at the next level. He’s a quality young man that will be a great representative of your franchise on and off the field. You can see the elusiveness on tape, it will be fun to see if the numbers match at the Combine.
Christian Westerman (Arizona State) – Supposedly the strongest player at the combine
Guy that won’t Flash Great Numbers but You Need to Know
Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech) – Chose to go to a small school so he could immediately play, and boy can he play. Hard worker with a nose for the end zone, set record for total touchdowns in college career. May not blow us away at the Combine with his numbers, but the tape doesn’t lie on what kind of player he can be at the next level.
Jack Conklin (Michigan State) – Will be a great right tackle at the next level, right tackles don’t usually test well at the combine.
Be Careful of the Hype Guy
Jordan Howard (Indiana) – Played in an up-tempo offense and had a great offensive line working for him at Indiana. Doesn’t have the football IQ to know when to take hits to gain another yard and when not to take extra hits. Not as high on Howard as others.
Shon Coleman (Auburn) – May do some good things at the Combine and flash some numbers, but needs some time to develop in order to become a great offensive lineman in the NFL.
Who will have the best Running Back 40-time
Tyler Ervin (San Jose State) – His game is based purely on his speed and pure athleticism in space. Could be a great pass-catching back but also an impact player as a return man.
Daniel Lasco (California) – Another player that may “wow” in his 40-time. Built solely on his speed and acceleration, will find himself on a pass-happy team looking for an explosive back.
Brandon Wilds (South Carolina) – Another player that should impress at the Combine. Has all the skills to be a versatile back in the league. Hasn’t proven he can stay healthy on a consistent basis, which will scare some teams away.
Follow me on Twitter @Shep_Collins for opinion, analysis, and fantasy implications from the NFL Scouting Combine