Josh Norris

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Norris: NFL Combine Review

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I forgot how much I loved the Combine. Not so much for the changes in evaluations but for the spectacle of athleticism that it is. The key is parsing through the numbers and determining what applies to the field. I will be embedding some great graphs and tables from Marcus Armstrong’s site Mockdraftable, a resource that compiled copious amounts of Combine data dating back to 1999. I urge you to waste a few hours there.


Greg Peshek’s metrics pieces are a great complement to these results.


QB Metrics featuring Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel.

WR Metrics 1.0 featuring Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin.

WR Metrics 2.0 featuring Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and Allen Robinson.

TE Metrics 1.0 featuring Jace Amaro, Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Richard Rodgers and Troy Niklas.

CB Metrics 1.0 featuring Darqueze Dennard, Jason Verrett, Terrance Mitchell, Bradley Roby and Justin Gilbert.

CB Metrics 2.0 featuring Kyle Fuller, Victor Hampton, Loucheiz Purifoy, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Lamarcus Joyner.


With that said, here are the biggest takeaways from the four days of on-field drills.



Don’t Count It Twice-ers


I outlined the “don’t count it twice” theory in my Combine Preview, while naming UCLA edge player Anthony Barr the top example.


Barr  

He is not the only one who received the tag, however.


Former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla is another whose evaluation is based on athletic upside.


Lyerla  

His 39-inch vertical is good for sixth best among tight ends since 2006, and his 10-foot-8 inch broad jump ties for fourth best since the same year.


Personally, Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks was already a top-25 prospect. His explosion and agility to separate on the ground outside or in the slot coupled with long speed to win vertically was obvious on the field. Nonetheless, his ridiculous workout should not be glossed over.


Cooks  

Cooks’ 20-yard short shuttle of 3.81 seconds ties Jason Allen as the best time at any position since 2006. Cooks also ran his 60-yard shuttle in 10.72 seconds, which is the best at any position since (at least) 2006. These times might not mean much, but they are impressive on some level.


Jadeveon Clowney’s athleticism should not be counted twice… but his evaluation cannot be any better, so it is a moot point.



Offensive Line Short Shuttle


Two events for specific position were spotlighted in my preview that best projected future success if a prospect fit among the top times since 2006. The first being the 20-yard short shuttle for offensive linemen.


Prior to this year’s Combine, Eagles C Jason Kelce (4.14), Colts C Samson Satele (4.29), Panthers C Ryan Kalil(4.34), Patriots OT Nate Solder (4.34), Jets C Nick Mangold (4.36), Colts OT Anthony Castonzo (4.40), Redskins C Will Montgomery (4.43), Vikings G Brandon Fusco (4.43), Chiefs T Eric Fisher (4.44) and longtime T Eric Winston (4.44) make up 10 of the top 14 clocked times in the 20-yard shuttle.


Many of these names with have to make room for four new prospects who fit the threshold.


Oklahoma C Gabe Ikard (4.37) now stands alone at the No. 7 spot. Boise State T Charles Leno Jr. (4.40), who was a top-10 prospect at the E-W Shrine Game, is now tied with Castonzo and others at No. 8. Nevada OL Joel Bitonioand UCLA G Xavier Su’a-Filo both recorded a 4.44, tying them with others at No. 14.


I am most confident in Su’a-Filo carrying on this success. Next would be Bitonio and Leno Jr. Ikard, on the other hand, is an interesting case. He could compare to Q.Q. Shipley, who also shows up among the top eight, but did not qualify as one of the top graduates of this test.



Edge Player 3-cones


The other event that best projects success if among the top performers since 2006 was the 3-cone drill for edge pass rushers. Cardinals’ Sam Acho (6.69), Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin (6.70), Chargers’ Melvin Ingram (6.83), Browns’Barkevious Mingo (6.84), Eagles’ Connor Barwin (6.87), Texans’ J.J. Watt (6.88), Lions’ Devin Taylor (6.89) and Vikings’ Brian Robison (6.89) make up eight of the top 10 times in the “DL” group. Cliff Avril just missed with a 6.90.


Only Missouri DL Kony Ealy qualified, tying Ingram’s time of 6.83 seconds. Honestly, I am a bit stunned. Ealy has drawn plenty of attention from many evaluators, but I have been a bit skeptical of his game in terms of his traits translating to the NFL. Ealy was used in plenty of alignments at Missouri but seemed to lack the initial pop in his hands or strong leg drive to keep his opposition on skates. I have a lot more work to do on Ealy.


I should mention, “failed” prospects who qualify in this test include Thaddeus Gibson (6.84) and Chris Carter (6.88).


Adding other edge players, the Broncos’ Von Miller (6.70) and the Packers’ Clay Matthews (6.90) would fit, but worked out with “LBs.”


In this year’s group, Stanford’s Trent Murphy (6.78) and Anthony Barr (6.82) deserve an asterisk, since their times would qualify if they worked out with the DL. The duo certainly rush the passer very frequently.



Just For Kicks


Suggesting a prospect moves from tackle to guard or cornerback to safety makes an inexact science even more tricky. Even more difficult? A major change in position which includes alignments and responsibilities and skills.


Let me start by saying this: I am not advocating these position changes. In fact, it is more for fun than anything. But comparing certain measurements to prospects at other positions can be a fun exercise.


Let us start with Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas. As a quarterback, Thomas is not the product that any evaluator wanted him to be at this point. The Hokie has a brief history at tight end and produced a very, very athletic workout. So, in an alternate universe, how would those measurements compare to tight end prospects since 1999?


Thomas  

His combination of size and athleticism nets top comparisons of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.


Now, there is no way that Thomas can win in contested situations like those two right now, but I am merely throwing out an idea worth (arguably) thinking about.


Next is NIU QB Jordan Lynch. One measurement stood out to me: A 3-cone time of 6.55 seconds. This is good for second best among running backs since 2006, just behind Chris Rainey’s 6.50.


Lynch  

As you can see, the rest of Lynch’s measurements are not as favorable when compared to other running backs.



Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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