Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 NFL Combine notes

By Jason Jones (posted by Rick Morris)

First-Round Talent that Solidified Their Stock (ranked in order by margin of impressiveness, or degree of wow):

1. ILB/MLB Luke Kuechly

2. DT/NT Dontari Poe

3. QB Robert Griffin III

4. WR Michael Floyd

5. DE Melvin Ingram

6. CB Morris Claiborne

7. WR Stephen Hill

8. DT Michael Brockers

9. CB Janoris Jenkins

10. DT Jerel Worthy

11. CB Dre Kirkpatrick

12. OT Matt Kalil

13. S Harrison Smith

14. OT Riley Reiff

15. CB Stephon Gilmore

16. QB Russell Wilson

17. OL Andrew Datko

Guys who tested to expectation, draft stock not altered after the combine:

1. QB Andrew Luck

2. DT Devon Still

3. DE Quinton Coples

4. RB LaMichael James

5. LB Sean Spence

6. RB Lamar Miller

7. WR Kendall Wright

8. DE Nick Perry

9. DE Whitney Mercilus

10. TE Dwayne Allen

11. WR Tommy Streeter

Guys who made money, players who potentially could have fallen with a poor combine performance:

1. DE Olivier Vernon

2. RB Chris Polk

3. DE Andre Branch

4. LB Emmanuel Acho

^ If I were an NFL GM and not picking in the top five, I would jump at the chance to draft Luke Kuechly. He is in almost every way on the field and off it, what you want from a face of the franchise. He's not Tom Brady or Calvin Johnson or Julius Peppers, but he is steady, a tackling machine, never been in trouble, never been injured. He is the first MLB/ILB I would be OK with drafting in the top 15 since Patrick Willis. He doesn't look anything like a Patrick Willis or Ray Lewis (beyond the fact that he's white), but his production will be worth it.

^ And for my Denver Broncos people crying for DL in the first round, I submit Dontari Poe. For now. Last week, he was a 2nd-round pick. Today, he might be available at 25. A couple weeks from now he may not, but as for now, Dontari Poe could be the DT you're seeking. I still want WR Michael Floyd. But the idea a month ago was that DT Michael Brockers and DT Devon Still would be long gone by 25. Jerel Worthy might be a possibility, but they better not take him at 25. I still contend that the defense is good enough to get by without spending the first round pick on a defensive player. If Tebow is going to make it (I am not in the mood to rehash that conversation before you try to), Demaryius Thomas and Michael Floyd make success a lot more likely on the passing side of offense.

So, what's the point of this? During this week each and every year, whether it’s individuals in sports media or your local know-it-all, people all want to say how the Combine is a waste of time. It's overrated. Teams put too much weight in the Combine.

It’s all hyperbole, and it pisses me off a little. So, I've done this exercise to prove a point. Of the 32 players mentioned, a WHOPPING nine improved their draft stock. What does that mean? It means that guys like RG3, Luke Kuechly, Michael Floyd, Morris Claiborne, Andrew Luck, Quinton Coples, Dwayne Allen, etc. were already getting first-round billing. These guys wowed at the Combine, AND IT CHANGES NOTHING! The Combine is simply a tool. It is one part of a large evaluation equation. No one thinks it’s the end-all, be-all. With the exception of the late Al Davis, not one single coach or scout puts all of their eggs in the Combine basket. The Combine allows good players to prove it and great players to reinforce perceptions or drop a little bit. It allows the barely-invited to move up the board from undrafted to the early part of Day 3. The Combine does not completely change perception. If a player is not on a team's radar and runs a 4.2 40 or throws up 225 40 times, that will not make him a top 10 pick. To make that claim is ridiculous. In this particular year, for about 90% of the field, the Combine did nothing more than confirm what the experts saw on game days.

So don't be that guy that says, "The NFL Combine is stupid" just because it’s popular to say. Everyone thinks they know everything. When you discredit the Combine completely, you are not one of those people. With one exception. If your name is Ken Becks "The Scout,” then you can say whatever you damn well please about scouting players.

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