It’s that time of the year. The NFL Draft talk is in full swing, and now it’s time for the best draft prospects to come together in one place: the NFL Scouting Combine. The combine puts players through a series of workouts on the field. Some are specific to position, while others, like the 40 yard dash, are a drill for all. While pretty much everyone knows that the drills matter less than the tape, the combine is still an important step for prospects. The meetings are a great opportunity for prospects to showcase other parts of their game, such as confidence, leadership, and football IQ. It has become quite a weekend for football fans. Let’s dive in to the preview!
Who Will Emerge As The Top QB?
For quarterback needy teams, the biggest part of this weekend will be when the quarterbacks take the field on Saturday. Many will be watching to see if Trubisky, Watson, or Kizer emerge as the top QB prospect. But I have bad news. I think the QB race is going to get even tighter, and some other names will join the top three. Watson will display his leadership in meetings, and should perform well in drills with his athleticism. I expect Trubisky to show off the arm, and show that he is more mobile than people think. DeShone Kizer has good measurables (6’4″, 233 pounds), and with some believing he can run in the 4.6 range, he should boost himself as well. As for the two to join them, I believe Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb will wow teams with their arm strength. While both might be developmental options, either of them could succeed at the next level with some refinement. I expect Mahomes and Webb to catch up in the race. The combine will make the quarterback decision even tougher for teams who are looking for a standout.
Who Wins The 40?
Another annual question that will be answered this weekend. The 40 yard dash is often the most entertaining part of the draft. Why? Because there’s always someone who wows people with his speed. Personally, I think the 40 is a waste of time when looking at NFL talent. Game speed is entirely different than straightaway speed. The 40 would be a good test to see who the next track stud is. For the NFL? Not so much.
But anyway, let’s pick a winner. The favorites? Many believe that Kermit Whitfield, the Florida State wide receiver who played in the East West Shrine Game, has the best shot. He has the breakaway speed and put that on display during the game in January. Another popular name is Carlos Henderson, the receiver from Louisiana Tech. Many compare him to DeSean Jackson. Adoree Jackson, the corner/kick returner from USC is another many expect to be near the top. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is an Olympic level hurdler, is another top name. And who can forget about John Ross from Washington?
As for the pick? I’ll lean towards Whitfield. I haven’t seen anyone run as fast as him on tape, except for Ross. But, Ross has an injured shoulder that could affect his time. So, let’s go with Whitfield.
3 Players To Watch On Each Day
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Everyone can see how great of an athlete Fournette is, and why he’s deserving of a first round pick. Now, after his 40 time, everyone will realize that he is a freak athlete with power and speed, and whoever scoops him up will be very pleased.
2. Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee: Kamara is a top five prospect at running back, but many still haven’t seen his skills on display. Kamara should run well and test well in the drills. Teams will get a taste of his versatility out of the backfield and his fluidity as a runner.
3. Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky: Lamp is another Ali Marpet story waiting to happen. Many have taken notice of Lamp, and believe he is a Pro Bowl guard in the making. His strength and athleticism will be put to the test, and I think he will hold his own.
1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: Mahomes might just have the best arm in the draft. While the jury is still out on Mahomes as a complete quarterback, he will impress many with the throws he makes.
2. Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech: I talked about Henderson as a possible 40 yard dash winner, so you know he will make a splash. I fully expect him to run somewhere in the 4.3s and show off his burst.
3. Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland: Measuring around 6’6″ and 278 pounds, Shaheen sounds like a freak of nature at tight end. With the tape showing how well he moves, this Saturday could come to be known as “The Rise of Shaheen”.
1. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt: Cunningham is a lot more athletic than his 2015 tape shows, and that will be very evident this weekend at the combine. I expect to see a linebacker worthy of being a first round pick.
2. Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston: Athleticism off the edge is extremely important, and after teams get a load of Bowser’s quickness and power, he should jump up to a mid second round talent.
3. Carroll Phillips, OLB, Illinois: Phillips is a very interesting prospect. He has the speed to be an effective rusher off the edge, and if he can display his speed and quickness, he could pass up fellow Illini Duwuane Smoot and others on the board.
1. Adoree Jackson, CB, USC: No matter whether it works out, teams continue to look for speed on the perimeter. Jackson has that high end speed, and his 40 time could very well blow teams away.
2. Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA: Fabian Moreau was a standout at the East West Shrine Game, and the combine could be his ticket to the first round. He may surprise people with his speed, and his ball skills combined with his footwork will turn heads.
3. Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M: The first two safeties on the board are set in stone, but who follows Adams and Hooker? It very well could be Justin Evans, who can work his way up boards by showing his quickness and his range on the back end.
Who do you think will stand out? What position are you looking at the most? Comment here or find me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 with your thoughts on the combine.
Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and the NFL Draft. Follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 for four days of complete combine coverage, and give him your thoughts as well.