Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Utah running back Devontae Booker speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
A lot of questions were answered at the 2016 NFL Combine. Some players’ stock rose and some players’ stock plummeted. Let’s break down the top 15 takeaways.
After a week of measurements, interviews and speculation, the combine has come to an end. As prospective NFL teams continue to set their 2016 NFL Draft boards, they came to some conclusions after this year’s combine.
The combine spanned nearly a week and some players rose to the title of warrior while others didn’t perform as well. With that being said let’s break down the top 15 takeaways from this year’s combine as it set things up nicely heading into the draft.
Next: 15. The debate about the 40-yard dash
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd runs the 40 yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
15. The debate about the 40-yard dash
So let’s kick off this list with a bang and this controversy that surrounds a drill that has been at the forefront of the combine since its infancy, the 40-yard dash. Now it seems there’s a tangible divide between those who put a lot of stock in the 40 and those who put zero stock in the 40.
The 40-yard dash is an important drill to measure the speed of prospective prospects. But with that being said, most scouts and analysts are aware that rarely will some of these players ever be put in a position where they’ll have to straight line run 40 yards.
The first 10 yards are the most important, solely because it can tell you the burst or pop of a player. For defensive linemen, linebackers and offensive linemen in particular, it’s important to explode off of the line from your stance.
The 40-yard dash is a positional drill, how you evaluate a 40 depends on what position you’re evaluating. For example, for wide receivers and running backs it’s a little more prevalent to run a good 40 time because those positional groups are often running in open field and it’s vastly more important to be fast for more than just 10 yards.
Next: 14. The DB's are fast
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida defensive back Vernon Hargreaves speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
14. The DB’s are fast
Speaking of the 40-yard dash for the majority of the week, most positional units failed to wow scouts and coaches with blazing 40 times. That was of course until the defensive backs took the field on the last day of the combine.
Jonathan Jones out of Auburn led all defensive backs with a 4.33 showing (third overall regardless of position) and set the bar for the rest of his colleagues who all impressed. There were multiple 4.3 guys, several 4.4 players and overall they were the fastest positional group at the combine.
There are many teams in the top-10 this year who could select a corner with their first round pick. In fact in, the latest mock draft on The Jet Press, two corners went in the top-10 which is quite the rarity.
If you want to see the rest of the picks in that mock draft you can see it here: 2016 NFL Mock Draft: New York Jets select Darron Lee. There is still one infamous 40-yard dash topic that hasn’t been discussed and is necessary in any top-15 takeaways list from the combine.
Next: 13. Rich Eisen's annual 40-yard dash
Feb 22, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NFL Network announcer Rich Eisen runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
13. Rich Eisen’s annual 40 yard dash
For the 12th year in a row, NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen closed out the combine by running a 40-yard dash in a full business suit. Eisen has been doing this for a long time and for a good cause.
His website, “Run Rich Run” reveals that Eisen is raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Eisen has been training with NY Jets’ star Brandon Marshall and in return Eisen will wear a lime green tie to raise awareness for Mental Health Awareness.
Last year was disappointing for Eisen, he ended up posting a 6.13 and improved to a 6.10 on his second attempt. This year, the NFL Network made quite a production of it, to check it out click here: #RunRichRun.
*Spoiler Alert* Eisen made history with a personal best, 5.94 officially breaking the 6 second barrier. Eisen was within reach of the slowest player at the combine which was offensive lineman Landon Turner out of North Carolina who completed the 40 in 5.58.
It was a fantastic moment at the combine, a great moment for Eisen and an inspirational moment for one special child, Allana (appears in the video link above), a St. Jude Children’s Hospital patient who watched Eisen run the 40.
Next: 12. The best of those who didn't participate
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Jack Myles watches from the sidelines as he chooses not to run the 40 yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
12. The best of those who didn’t participate
Over 300 players were invited to the combine, but unfortunately not everyone was able to participate due to injury. Which raises the bar that much higher for each of the prospects upcoming Pro Days and if they aren’t ready by then, they would have to set up an individual workout as a last resort.
Headlining the list of prospects that couldn’t participate are two of the top defensive play makers in the entire draft. Jaylon Smith was arguably the most talented player in this entire draft and quite possibly still is.
Unfortunately he suffered a knee injury that appears to still have some nerve damage that could keep him out the entire 2016 season and possibly beyond. While Myles Jack, another outstanding prospect, suffered an anterior meniscus tear.
A quick update on Smith and Jack: NFL teams are very weary of Smith’s long term durability and sustainability and reportedly some teams have completely taken Smith off of their draft board. Jack says he feels 100% and is ready for action. It’ll be up to each team to weigh the risk vs the reward and the pressure is on these coaches and front office personnel making these decisions.
Next: 11. Best of the rest: Combine Snubs
Jan 30, 2016; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad quarterback Jake Coker of Alabama (14) tries to evade the tackle of North squad inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich of Temple (48) in he first quarter of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
11. Best of the rest: Combine Snubs
As mentioned previously, over 300 players were cordially invited to show off their talents in front of hundreds of coaches, scouts and analysts on the big stage. But not everyone got the opportunity that these 300+ players received.
There were quite a few snubs from this year’s combine, particularly at the quarterback position. Jake Coker of Alabama was the leading signal caller for a team that was represented in the BCS National Championship game.
But that didn’t merit an invite to the Combine, it’s fair to say that Coker was a fringe draftable prospect due to the system that is implemented at Alabama and how that translates to the next level. But still, it was very surprising that 18 other quarterbacks were invited and Coker wasn’t one of them.
Another talented quarterback who wasn’t invited was Everett Golson. He had a rocky career with Notre Dame and Florida State, but his sheer raw potential should’ve been enough to get an invite. Golson finished his college career with a 24-7 record, a 61.2 percent completion rate, 7,628 yards, 52 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He also had 546 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.
Next: 10. The Jets may be looking for speed in all the wrong places
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Draft analyst Mike Mayock speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
10. The Jets may be looking for speed in all the wrong places
The NY Jets are looking for improvement in the speed category in 2016. If they are looking for a game breaking speedster at the receiver position they should look in other areas according to Mike Mayock. Outside of a spectacular performance by Will Fuller (clocked in at a 4.32 on his 40), the 2016 receiving class is slower than molasses.
To see the entire wide receiving class 40 times you can see those stats here on NFL.com/CombineTopPerformers. Fuller was one of only two receivers to clock in a sub par 4.4 and the other receivers barely did it with a 4.39.
The Jets have Marshall and Eric Decker as their top two wide receivers but after that there is some openings on the depth chart. Can Quincy Enunwa continue his development? Can Devin Smith (a speedster in his own right) bounce back from an injury plagued rookie season?
The Jets are reportedly shopping Jeremy Kerley around at the combine and assuredly if they can’t find a partner to tango with they could simply cut bait and start searching for a replacement. Keep an eye on Fuller who could be in the conversation on day one of the draft.
Next: 9. Talk is cheap
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook throws a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
9. Talk is cheap
Connor Cook compared himself to Tom Brady. Mackensie Alexander said he was the best corner in the draft. Not many prospects seem to be short on confidence through this excruciating process.
But Cook didn’t put his money where his mouth was. Cook struggled with accuracy and ball placement throughout his workout at the combine. It also didn’t help that the leadership questions continue to percolate and were the theme reportedly in the interview process on top of his underwhelming performance.
Alexander after talking himself up will have to wait to show everybody what he has to offer. The former Clemson star isn’t participating in combine drill work and is dealing with a hamstring issue, according to NFL Media’s Kimberly Jones.
Both of these player’s issues: Cook’s accuracy and Alexander’s balky hamstrings are causes for concern and cheap talk won’t hide their problems. Alexander has been dealing with the hamstring issues since the College Football Playoffs. With Clemson’s Pro Day rapidly approaching, Alexander doesn’t have much time to backup his bold claims.
Next: 8. Braxton Miller is human
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Braxton Miller catches a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
8. Braxton Miller is human
Many expected Braxton Miller to impress many at the combine and cement his status as one of the most dynamic players in this draft. Unfortunately, one of his most anticipated events he fell short in and in his defense, most of the wide receivers failed to impress in the 40-yard dash.
None the less, the 4.5 showing is still a tad disappointing. To check out some more of the highs and the lows from Miller’s performance in the Combine you can check them out here: Braxton Miller 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
Miller struggled running the full route tree, he wasn’t as consistent as you’d like catching the football, but he’s only been playing the wide receiver position for less then a calendar year. It wasn’t all bad for Miller at the combine as he showed some impressive footwork, smooth agile breaks out of routes and portrayed why his ceiling is so high.
Miller posted the third-best 3-cone drill time at 6.65 seconds. His short shuttle time was tied for the top with D.J. Foster of Arizona State at 4.07 seconds. Finally, he had the top 60-yard shuttle time of 10.84 seconds, edging out California’s Trevor Davis, who was the only other player to get under 11 seconds in the drill at 10.94 seconds. Miller’s short area quickness and explosion off the snap separates him from the second tier of wide receivers in this year’s draft class.
Next: 7. The Cardale Jones show will have to wait
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
7. The Cardale Jones show will have to wait
Of course everyone was paying attention to the top signal callers: Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch and Jared Goff who dominated headlines. But there was at least one quarterback who piqued interest around the league with his undeniable talent and raw potential, Cardale Jones.
But before Jones even had a chance to show off that rocket arm of his, he pulled his hamstring midway through his disappointing 40 time. The injury left him unable to compete in any of the remaining drills at the combine to the dissatisfaction of multiple teams around the league.
Now prospective teams interested in his services will have to wait for Ohio State’s Pro Day to show teams what he has to offer. Jones has everything riding on this Pro Day. He opened the 2015 season as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback following his epic three-game run as a starter to the 2014 National Championship.
Jones couldn’t continue that momentum and his early season struggles eventually landed him back on the bench in favor of J.T. Barrett, whom Jones replaced last season when Barrett got injured. Jones projects as a late-round flier until he proves otherwise as he still has one last opportunity to do just that.
Next: 6. Top play maker impresses at combine
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell runs a pass route during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
6. Top play maker impresses at combine
Despite not running the 40-yard dash, former Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell lit up the combine. He flashed with his impressive ball skills and sticky hands.
Treadwell’s ability to track the ball down on the deep routes at the combine was spectacular and should go a long way in helping a team decide whether this guy is worth a top-10 selection. Treadwell is a guy who can step in from day one and be a legitimate starting caliber receiver in the NFL.
Out of all the wide receiving prospects, he has shown the consistency, size and intangibles to be the next great wide receiver in the NFL. Treadwell’s ridiculous hand size will only help him at the next level and it certainly helped him at the combine where he effortlessly hauled in off target passes.
Treadwell may opt against running the 40 at his Pro Day suggesting that his spectacular combine performance should be more than enough, depending on what his agent and representatives suggest to him. Hopefully teams will have the chance of being wowed one more time if he does indeed decide to take part in the full arc of drills.
Next: 5. Big questions still loom
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
5. Big questions still loom
A lot of questions were answered at this year’s combine, but a lot of questions remain unanswered. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith could be facing a draft tumble thanks to the legitimate health concerns about his knee injury. Arguably the draft’s most talented player at his position if not overall, Smith will continue to rehabilitate his knee and hope subsequent medical re-checks can still sway an NFL club to fall in love with the talented prospect.
Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence didn’t exactly thrill NFL scouts with his performance in drills on Sunday. He posted a slow 40 time and perhaps in the most important part of the combine examination Spence failed miserably according to NFL Media’s Kimberly Jones, in his interview sessions with multiple teams. As a result, one NFL source told Jones he hopes to have heard the end of talk that Spence is worthy of a first-round pick.
Finally, Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche wasn’t at all disappointing in drills Sunday, as expected. NFL clubs already knew Nkemdiche was an elite athlete before he landed in Indianapolis. Where Nkemdiche needed to help himself most was in image repair, another player who failed impressing behind closed doors. Many teams have reportedly taken the versatile defensive linemen off of their draft boards completely due to off the field concerns.
So for three of the top talents in the draft pool, they still have a lot left to prove before draft day. It’s unfortunate that Smith suffered the injury in his last collegiate game, hopefully he can bounce back. While the other two prospects have a lot to work with their PR teams to try to clean their image.
Next: 4. Darron Lee is fast
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee participates in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4. Darron Lee is fast
Like I mean really fast, 4.47 on the 40-yard dash fast to be exact. Only seven wide receivers posted a faster 40 than Lee and Lee is an outside linebacker. Though with defenses changing and position requirements changing, the difference between an outside linebacker and a safety is narrow and Lee is versatile enough to do a lot of different things at the next level.
Paired with his performance in other drills, it’s easy to see why Lee’s considered an ideal pick for a team seeking an outside linebacker with exceptional pass-coverage skills and an innate ability to rush the passer. His outstanding combine could sneak him into the top-15 conversation.
Overall, Ohio State delivered quite the array of top performers at the combine and that should translate to the most first-round picks of any college this year. Of course Lee’s weight could be an issue if he remains an outside linebacker.
For Lee to ever reach his full potential, he’ll need to add more muscle mass to his frame to survive the NFL gauntlet of 16 games not including the postseason. When things are all said and done and whatever improvements Lee makes at his Pro Day, he’ll be under consideration for top-10 status and deservedly so.
Next: 3. Vernon Gholston comparisons
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
3. Vernon Gholston comparisons
No one dominated the combine like Leonard Floyd did and that should be cause for concern. He ran a 4.60 40-yard dash on his first attempt. That time ranked the former Bulldogs pass rusher fifth among linebackers. His vertical jump of 39.5 inches ranked second, and his 10-7 broad jump ranked third.
Floyd before the combine was a borderline first-round pick in most mock drafts and now his stock will only continue to rise, sound familiar? There was this guy from Ohio State several years ago who came out and dominated the combine as a speedy, muscular, super human of a player who bench pressed 225 a ridiculous 37 times.
All that hype led to Vernon Gholston being the sixth overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. Gholston didn’t get a sack during his short tenure with the Jets and never recorded a sack during his entire NFL career. Though the NFL Network compared Floyd to another draft bust during the NFL Combine.
Leonard Floyd (@FootballUGA) is clocked at 4.60u in his 1st attempt.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 28, 2016
Buyer beware for teams in the first round desperate for the next Von Miller. No matter how good a player performs at the combine, ultimately the tape never lies and should always be the real deal breaker, not a workout in shorts.
Next: 2. The hype is real
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins participates in a workout drill during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
2. The hype is real
The way ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper sees it, this year’s draft is loaded with defensive linemen. It’s the best group of defensive linemen that Kiper has seen in his 40 or so years of dissecting the NFL’s annual selection meeting. On Sunday, fans, coaches and analysts saw what Kiper was talking about.
It’s a draft class that could have as many as 12 defensive linemen with first round grades according to Mike Mayock during a segment on the NFL Network. Here is what he had to say:
“I could go 12 names deep where you might have, conceivably, a first-round grade,” Mayock said. “There are going to be some good defensive tackles that get pushed down a round or two this year, because it’s so deep.”
Sheldon Rankins is one of those 12 names that emerged from a standout performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl and impressed with his combine performance, “If he doesn’t go in the first 20 picks, I’ll be stunned,” Mayock said.
This is the year of the defensive linemen and some analysts have said that you could get a first round kind of defensive linemen in the third round of this year’s draft. That should be music to the ears of prospective NFL teams looking to upgrade the trenches. The New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers immediately come to mind.
Next: 1. Joey Bosa leads them all
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa participates in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1. Joey Bosa leads them all
Many have the Tennessee Titans penciled in taking offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil out of Ole Miss with the first overall pick, but Joey Bosa just opened up the conversation with his performance at the combine. Bosa posted a 4.21 20 shuffle (second among defensive linemen), 6.89 3-cone (2nd), 10-0 broad (5th), 32.0 vertical to name a few.
Bosa also posted a respectable 40 time sub 4.9 to solidify his spot in the conversation to become the first player chosen. The Titans could look to add offensive tackle depth through free agency and add a dynamic defensive presence via the draft instead.
Many players are labeled and compared to former NFL greats and Bosa was no exception. Very early in the process, Bosa was compared to none other than J.J. Watt because of their similar work ethic and potential to dominate at the next level.
Who knows if the Titans or whatever team drafts Bosa will get another Watt, but it’s safe to say that if a team got half of what Watt brings to the table, they’d be pleased with the production of their first round pick.