NFL Draft 2015 – Hot and Cold prospects from the Scouting Combine

We are barely 48 hours removed from the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine and it is fair to say we’ve learned a lot over the past few days from interviews, tests, meetings and on-field drills. What exactly have we learned though? Well luckily, I’m on hand to take you through just some of the small nuggets of information we’ve taken from this year’s Combine, who the top performers were and who could’ve done a lot better.

First off let’s take a look at defensive end Vic Beasley from Clemson. Beasley’s lack of size and bulk were seen as a big issue at the start of the Combine, he played at 235 pounds during his senior year in college. He took care of that by measuring at 6 foot 3, 246 pounds at the Combine. Critics were still concerned that he couldn’t carry the weight though, but if Sunday is anything to go by then he sure can. Beasley ran a 4.53 40 yard dash, clocking an impressive 10 yard split time of 1.59 seconds. He also impressed in the vertical and broad jump, chalking up distances of 41 inches and 10 feet, 10 inches respectively. Beasley looked smooth as silk in every drill and is sure to be one of the top prospects of this year’s batch of rookies.

Jameis Winston is one of the hot favourites to be number 1 overall pick at the Draft. NFL media analyst Mike Mayock said on Tuesday that he was unsure about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Winston as the 1st pick, but that was the general consensus from most at the Combine. An excellent throwing session and a Cam Newton-like seriousness at the podium means it looks like Winston will be a big winner at the Draft in a few weeks.

jameis winston

 

Quarterback Jameis Winston seems to already know what number he’ll be drafted at…

But what about the man everyone was talking about? None other than Quarterback Marcus Mariota. Yes, Winston may have left the Combine as a sure-fire bet for number 1 pick, but that doesn’t mean Mariota is falling in the rankings. He was the fastest QB by a country mile, clocking a 40 yard dash time of 4.52 seconds (that’s up there with some of the best wide receivers’ times). Mariota also threw very well, despite a recent shoulder injury. On top of this, every team was full of high praise of his character and professional attitude.

Georgia’s Chris Conley was already starting to rise up a few boards as teams dug into him more, and that should continue after a freakish performance at the Combine. The wideout posted terrific numbers in the 40 yard dash (4.35) and vertical jump (45 inches), and he looked solid during drills.

If you didn’t know who Connecticut cornerback  Byron Jones was before Monday – and if you hadn’t looked at NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects list, you probably didn’t – you certainly do now. Jones only recently had shoulder surgery in the past month but despite this he caused jaws to drop worldwide with an incredible record breaking broad jump of 12 feet, 3 inches. He also put up good numbers in the vertical jump, leaping 44.5 inches off the ground. Despite not running the 40 yard dash, Jones looked good in the 20 and 60 yard shuttle drills. This kid can certainly be a star if given the right tuition.

byron jones

 

“I barely touched him ref!”

Naturally though there are some players who didn’t quite live up to the hype. The prime example of this for me is Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Sure he’s a great guy and probably one of the hardest working members of the 2015 class, but he only ran 4.6 seconds in the 40 yard dash. Come on, that’s basically walking speed for a running back. Straight-line speed is a massive determining factor for running backs and his, frankly, pedestrian 40 time might make teams reconsider.

Not often do you see players feel the need to respond after a poor performance, but that was the case for TCU linebacker Paul Dawson. The one aspect about Dawson that can’t be overlooked is that on the field during the season, he played at an extremely high level and showed off excellent instincts. The thing is, on the field Sunday, he didn’t look very athletic. At all. He can erase the memories of Sunday, though, with a good pro day on March 27.

paul dawson

 

Paul Dawson in action for TCU.

Last but by no means least, we have another linebacker. This time from Washington, it’s Shaq Thompson. With a name like Shaq he’s got a lot to live up to in terms of sporting greats, but on his performance at the Combine, Shaquille O’Neal needn’t be worried about being usurped as the best Shaq to ever play sports. One issue with Thompson is his position at the next level – is he a linebacker, a safety or even a running back, a position he played some for the Huskies? All that was overshadowed a bit Sunday, when he didn’t wow anybody with his workouts. He ran a 4.64 in the 40, a disappointing time for a guy thought to be a high-level athlete. His vertical jump (33.5) also was disappointing.

That’s it for my review of some of the best and worst performances from this year’s Scouting Combine, here’s hoping the Cardinals can pick up some decent rookies in the Draft!

Kelsey De Maria

@kjdemaria

kelsey@severnsport.co.uk

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