2019 NFL COMBINE PREVIEW
WHO NEEDS TO SHINE
The NFL Combine is officially here. Ever since the college season ended these players have been working to prove themselves for scouts and evaluators. Now that all the All-star games have been played the physicals, workouts, interviews and meetings take center stage. Every year NFL Scouts and Front Office personnel swarm to Indianapolis to get a look at some of the top talent in this year’s draft class. At least one third of the players working out at the Combine will not have their name called on Draft Weekend. Many players have a lot riding on this week as to build momentum before their pro days. While others try to answer questions about their abilities or character. We take a position by position look at players to look out for in Indianapolis.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma- Murray shocked the Oakland A’s Organization by not only having a Heisman winning season, but he also passed on guaranteed money to go into their farm system for a change to play in the NFL. Murray’s arm talent and athleticism are undeniable. The questions around him start with does his size translate to the NFL? How much does he love football? Murray will meet with teams and take physicals. He will throw at the combine, but will not run the 40 yard dash. With him adding weight he wants his best 40 yard dash to be when he runs in Norman at his Pro Day.
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo- Jackson is a big bodied, big armed passer with a high upside. He was able to have some very good snaps Senior Bowl week with scouts in attendance. There are still many concerns about accuracy that come into play. The on-field drills will be heavily watched, however the interviews are where he needs to nail it. He needs to show he can absorb a playbook. Jackson needs to prove NFL coaches can trust him with the keys to the offense. That will go a long way to hearing his name called early on Day 2 as opposed to early Day 3.
Jordan Scarlett, Florida- Scarlett is a talented runner. The film definitely shows that. His time at Florida also shows a player with past off the field issues. He was one of several players suspended in 2017. Current Cleveland Browns receiver and former Gators teammate Antonio Callaway was able to convince teams he was worth taking. Not only will Scarlett need a strong on the field performance, but he will need to nail the team interviews as well. If the character issues remain he will be a late Day 3 or priority free agent.
Bryce Love, Stanford- Love was thought to be the top running back in this class coming into the 2018 season. While many believe that he should have entered the 2018 draft, he showed that he valued his education as well as his career. An injury riddled 2018 season hurt his stock a bit. Love will be limited at the combine. His medical evaluation will be the biggest test. If teams’ medical staffs believe his knee will be 100% in 2019 then his stock will rise. Teams want to see the player that stayed in school in 2018.
D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss- Metcalf has missed time with injury in 2018. He will look to prove himself in drills. The challenge will be the 3 cone and shuttle. His long speed is undeniable. The change of direction with the added bulk we have seen recently is a big key.
David Sills, West Virginia- Sills is a big play receiver that on film doesn’t get big separation. He will need a sub 4.55 40 to really impress scouts. His 3 cone will be key as well. Can he show change of direction speed and explosion?
Cody Thompson, Toledo- Thompson suffered a leg injury in 2017 that ended what was turning out to be a stellar season. His 2018 numbers were good, but of off pace when it came down to explosive plays. He flashed some of that explosiveness at the East West Shrine practices before leaving with an injury. He needs to have clear medicals and time well to prove to scouts that he is the same player that was a deadly target in 2017.
C.J. Conrad, Kentucky- Conrad left East West Shrine Practices early with an injury. His film shows a quality blocker. What we didn’t get a lot of was the pass catcher. Testing well will be a boost, but him catching the ball well and running quality routes will be the biggest help he can get.
Kendall Blanton, Missouri- Albert Okwuegbunam staying at Missouri allowed Blanton to get more attention. In a class this deep he will not only need to test well, but he needs to catch the ball well. His is another in a class loaded with big body tight ends so he needs to show he is on par with the top talent of the class athletically.
Alize Mack, Notre Dame- Mack is another big and athletic tight end. That sentence alone says why he needs to show out. Limited production in South Bend will mean that he has to not only time well, but impress with route running and sure hands.
Oli Udoh, Elon- Udoh has been mentioned as different things in different circles. Some think he needs to kick inside to guard. Others think swing tackle. Oli needs to test well and show he has tackle feet in order to get tackle consideration. He was a top performer during Shrine Week, but he was inconsistent during Senior Bowl week.
Iosua Opeta, Weber State- Opeta was a converted defensive lineman to offensive tackle. He will have to kick inside to guard. He will first have to show strength and stamina on the bench. Then he has to show footwork and change of direction. Opeta will have to have a strong workout to get serious Day 3 consideration.
Alex Bars, Notre Dame- Bars had his Senior campaign end due to injury. He was a top 5 guard prospect before the injury. His size and athleticism peaked the interest of scouts. His medicals will be a key. Whatever work he does on the field will need to impress as well. If he isn’t 100% then I expect he will do more at his Pro Day.
Nick Bosa, Ohio State- The man that many feel is the top prospect in the class is going to have to have clean medicals and test well or he has the risk of falling. Bosa suffered and abdominal injury and decided to shut it down for the year to get ready for this. That decision will also be questioned in interviews as well.
Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame- Tillery is a big time talent with some character baggage. His film this season was outstanding. The off the field concerns will lead to many questions in interviews. He must will in the interview room and have a great workout to boost his stock. Otherwise he will fall into the character rounds.
Charles Omenihu, Texas- Omenihu has so many traits you like. His production was inconsistent. He wowed in Senior Bowl practices and flashed at times in the game. There are a large range of opinions on him. He can boost his stock and change some of the poor opinions of him if he tests well in drill and the 3 cone. You want to see bend and burst from him. Those were his worst traits on film.
Porter Gustin, USC- Porter has missed plenty of time due to injury. He decided to return to USC for the 2018 season and had mixed results. Medicals will be big for him. A clean bill of health will mean all eyes on his workouts. If he tests well then his stock will rise. Anything else and he better hope other players with similar grades struggle.
Justin Hollins, Oregon- After a strong East West Shrine Week he can further improve his stock. Teams will look to see him change direction and play with bend. Also expect teams to work him out as a linebacker. He has experience and End and SAM backer. He will be tested at both.
Brian Burns, Florida State- Burns is light in the caboose at 227 lbs. He has to test well or he gets the tweener label. 3-4 teams will watch him closely for change of direction. He will get the chance to work at linebacker to see if he can open his hips and drop into coverage.
Devin Bush, Michigan, Bush will need clean workouts to boost his stock. With solid film he is a Day 2 pick at best right now. After skipping the bowl game teams will also dig into him during the interviews. Testing well and strong interviews are the only way he rises. Anything average and he risks falling to players that show out. He needs this week to separate from the pack.
Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame- Coney needs to show he has the speed and athleticism to be more than a two down player. His coverage ability has been questioned. Coney needs to test well especially in shuttle and 3 cone. If his workouts show the change of direction quickness and explosion then teams will take him seriously as a 3 down player.
Deshaun Davis, Auburn- Size is the biggest knock on him. Speed and agility are going to be his calling card. to fall short in workouts will definitely drop him. He is going to looked at as a Will backer since there are questions about his durability as a Mike. You want him to chase and drop. For that he needs to show range.
Isaiah Johnson, Houston- Johnson is a big corner that has the size and length teams are searching for. His change of direction at times has been a problem. It is imperative that he shows out in drills especially the 3 cone and short shuttle.
Rock Ya-Sin, Temple- Rock wants first round consideration. He will have to show the click and close ability in coverage drills to prove he can be equally as effective in coverage. We see he can play press, but he doesn’t have great film with playing off.
Deonte Thompson, Alabama- Thompson was a sure fire Top 10 pick at the beginning of the season. Then he struggled in the second half of the season. He needs to show better range and transitions in coverage drills to boost his stock. He had moments were he looked robotic in coverage. A good 3 cone time and testing well in coverage drills will restore the lost luster.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson- Can he play in space? He was strong in the slot. Good at playing in the box. Can he play over the top? He needs to cover ground and consistently take good angles to the football. If he wants to continue to be a top safety prospect he has to test well at the position. Otherwise he will get drafted as a slot corner.