The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books and it made on clear statement to the league-this draft class is absolutely loaded. Good luck to the teams that want to trade down early and acquire more picks. Everyone is going to want to move back in an attempt to add more picks, especially more picks in rounds two and three.
Something similar happened in the 2011 draft, but for a very different reason. The top of that draft stunk and a lot of teams tried to trade back and couldn’t. Nobody wanted to trade up because there weren’t many players worthy of such a move. This time around teams won’t want to trade up because the drop-off from the 15th best prospect to the 40th best prospect is small, especially if you are targeting a cornerback. Add in the rawness of every quarterback that could go early and you will have a lot of teams stuck with their first round pick.
Last week I gave you 10 players to focus on during the combine because there was something they could do to improve their stock at the combine. Some of it was their length and weight, others it was how fast they ran. Their draft stock wasn’t going plummet with a bad combine, but they had a chance to move up draft boards if they impressed in a certain area that scouts are concerned about. I’m going to break down each of those 10 prospects and tell you how they did in Indy and where their stock stands as of today.
Brian Hill RB/Wyoming- I’m a big Brian Hill fan, more than anyone else I’ve talked to about this year’s running back class. He’s got outstanding vision and patience and that’s rare for a bigger back coming out of college. The concern for Hill is that he doesn’t have enough speed and he isn’t quick enough to be an effective runner at the next level.
Hill ran a 4.54 40 at the combine, .03 seconds slower than Leonard Fournette and 0.05 seconds slower than Dalvin Cook. He also ran a 7.03 3-cone which is .14 seconds quicker than Wayne Gallman ran and 0.24 seconds quicker than Dalvin Cook.
He’s not a burner and he isn’t as dangerous in the open field as Christian McCaffrey, but at 219 pounds he showed solid movement skills for his size. Add that with his vision and patience as a runner and you’ve got a solid day two pick at running back.
Mike Williams WR/Clemson- My biggest concern with Williams has been his ability to separate against coverage. The majority of his catches were made in really tight coverage. You can make a living doing that in college, it doesn’t always translate to the next level.
Williams was healthy but elected to wait until Clemson’s pro day to run. To me that’s worse than if he ran a 4.9 40. I came away from the combine not only questioning his speed but also his competitive level.
He had a chance to secure the top wide receiver ranking while Corey Davis is still recovering from an injury, instead he watched as John Ross ran a 4.22 40 10 days before he is scheduled to have surgery on a torn labrum.
Eric Saubert TE/Drake- Last week I talked about how low his competition level was at Drake and how important it was to see him run at the combine so we can get a better feel of just how athletic he really is.
Well he didn’t run but he did participate in all the tight end drills. While his position mates like Evan Engram, O.J. Howard and David Njoku were putting up monster numbers, was resting before position drills. He had a chance to make a name for himself at the combine and it was really disappointing to see him not compete. Add his drop issues to the table and you have prospect who probably isn’t going any earlier than the 5th round at best.
*UPDATE* I was contacted by one of his family members on twitter and it turns out he has been battling a hamstring injury for the last month. He will run at the Iowa State Pro Day on March 28th
Antonio Garcia OT/Troy- His weight was my main concern because he was only 293 at the Senior Bowl and 300 is typically the threshold. A lot of players will shed weight in order to run faster at the combine so I was very concerned he was going to be under 290 in Indy.
He weighed in at 302 pounds and looked pretty athletic at drills. He also shoved another lineman in a non-contact drill which sums up his game pretty well. He’s a nasty dude and already reaching the 300 pound checkpoint was crucial. Hopefully he will be around 310 by training camp.
Tanoh Kpassagnon DE/Villanova- An impressive specimen at 6’7, 289 pounds with 35 inch arms and 10 inch hands. He’s big and he’s powerful. He can win with power and length. His 10 yard split, which is a good measurement for how quick a guy is off the snap, was 1.70 which is below average for a edge rusher but was faster than every defensive tackle prospect except Malik McDowell, who had a 1.69 10 yard split.
Seeing now about what his playing weight will be and how he runs I think his best fit is in a 3-4 scheme as a 5-tech defensive end. He’s also a nice movable piece in sub-packages, but in a 4-3 scheme he’s not an edge rusher and he will struggle as a tackle with leverage because he is so tall.
Malik McDowell DT/Michigan State- He was listed between 275-285 in college so his weight and how he runs at his combine weight was something I wanted to follow. Ideally he was close to 300 pounds and still ran a sub 5 40. He did just that.
He weighed in at 295 and ran a 4.85 40 along with a 1.69 10 yard split. Now there are reports that he bombed several interviews, especially when people questioned his work ethic, but I don’t have access to the interview process so my focus is on his tape and combine numbers.
Anthony Walker LB/Northwestern- Walker is your classic great instincts linebacker who runs like an offensive guard. At least that’s what I saw on tape so I was hoping he would show something more at the combine, but he really didn’t. His arms measured in really short(30″), he ran a average 40(4.65) and a really slow 3-cone(7.23).
He’s going to struggle to secure a starting MIKE linebacker job at the next level, but he’s a really instinctive player who should find a role on special teams and a key backup role.
Marlon Humphrey CB/Alabama- Humphrey looked like a linebacker in run support, but also looked like a linebacker at times in coverage. I love him as a zone heavy corner, but on an island he would scare the hell out of me as a defensive coordinator. His 40 and 3-cone times were going to be crucial at the combine.
Humphrey had himself a pretty good day at the combine. It was overshadowed by other DBs freakish numbers, but he ran well for his size. He ran a 4.41 40 and a 6.75 3-cone. He measured in at 6’0, 197 with 32 1/4 inch arms. I don’t think he ran himself into an automatic first round pick, but the GMs that want to spend a first round pick on him will feel a lot better about doing so now.
Chidobe Awuzie CB/Colorado- This kid first got my attention against Michigan last September. He dominated his side of the field and was a force against the run. It’s important to note if you are looking at potential Eagles cornerback targets in this draft, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz demands his corners be physical, compete on every snap and run very well. He doesn’t have much history with corners who run 4.6 40s and can’t crack a 7 second 3-cones.
Awuzie ran a 4.43 40, a 6.81 3-cone and had a 34 1/2 inch vertical leap. He ran like a Schwartz at the combine and he plays like one on tape. He’s not sneaking into round two in this loaded corner class, but you can bet he will be an Eagles target late on day two or early on day three.
Rasul Douglas CB/West Virginia- On tape I thought this kid was a poor man’s(but not that poor) Richard Sherman and his combine numbers backed that up. He measured in one inch shorter, had a very similar 40(4.59) and 3-cone(6.97).
I love Douglas’s game. He had 8 picks this past season, he locks down the team’s best wide out and is an ideal match-up corner against tight ends and the bigger wide outs at the next level. I was hoping he would run well enough to justify a top 50 pick. He didn’t, but in the right scheme he is going to turn into a really good corner. I don’t see him as an ideal Eagles scheme fit, but he will be a force in this league.