A player’s career can’t be made or ruined at the NFL Combine, but they sure can change the impression of teams and fans in a hurry. Guys like Vernon Davis can go from obscure to highly-valued with one explosive athletic display. I won’t pick on any one player who has disappointed athletically at the Combine in the past, but there are plenty of those as well.
Looking at the 2013 NFL Combine as the dust is still settling, here are four players who will likely climb up draft boards after a strong Combine and four more who likely hurt their standing in the eyes of those that matter in the league:
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Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
Scott had a very solid Combine, showing off some decent speed and a strong arm. In a draft class that started out looking weak at quarterback and hasn’t really improved, Scot has a chance to impress. He only started one year at Arizona, and he did so in the face of massive changes after the arrival of Rich Rodriguez. Despite having all that work against him, he had a very good year. He won’t be one of the top QBs off the board, but he’ll go higher than many expect after this Combine, and he has a chance to be as good as any of the guys who go before him.
Margus Hunt, DL, SMU
Hunt was one of the biggest Combine freaks this year. He’s a former track star in Estonia, so we knew he was athletic. A guy who is 6-foot-8 and 277 pounds should not be able to run 4.60 in the 40, though. Plus, he did 38 reps in the bench press, and then he told teams he has at least 20 pounds of good weight he can add to his frame. The guy has blocked 10 field goals — an NCAA record — but this showing will have teams believing he has the potential to do much more than that with some seasoning. He helped himself immensely.
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
A couple of days ago, few knew that Arkansas Pine-Bluff had a football team. Now everyone is scrambling for game tape. Armstead is 6-foot-4 and 306 pounds, so a time in the low-five-second range for the 40 would have been solid. He ran a 4.71. He is a highly successful shot putter, so he’s strong, too. Competition questions will plague him going forward, but he made himself a whole lot of money in Indianapolis.
Jamie Collins, DE/OLB, Southern Miss
Collins didn’t win any games last season at Southern Miss, but he was a big Combine winner. His broad jump was a full foot better than any other linebacker, and his 41.5 inch vertical is ridiculous. He’s 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, so the combination of size and athleticism will have teams drooling over him.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
This one is a no-brainer. He has been under scrutiny (a massive understatement) after following up a horrific National Championship Game with the strangest soap opera in memory. He could have repaired much of the damage at the Combine, but instead he reportedly didn’t impress in a lot of his interviews, and he was much smaller and slower than people hoped. Two months ago it would have been impossible to imagine him out of the Top 15, never mind out of the first round. Now there is no telling where he might fall.
Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Coming into the Combine Moore was talked about as a potential Top-5 pick. There will be much less of that talk now. His 4.95 in the 40 was far too slow, and getting just 11 reps in the bench press is unacceptable in a strength position like he plays. After the underwhelming showing, teams will definitely question how much of his strong play was just a result of the system he was in and whether he has what it takes to be a real star at linebacker in the NFL. The position is increasingly being viewed as the domain of athletic freaks, and Moore certainly didn’t perform like one of those. He says that his hamstring was bothering him, so he could slow down his slide with a big performance at his pro day. Much of the damage may already be done, though.
Zeke Motta, S, Notre Dame
At least Te’o can rest easier in that he isn’t the only Irish defender who was a major Combine disappointment. Motta was dead last for safeties in the bench press with just 11. His 4.83 in the 40 would have been good if he was a lineman, but it is glacial for the secondary. People weren’t expecting him to test off the charts, but he shouldn’t have been this bad.
Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
There had been some growing buzz around Aboushi heading into the Combine, but that is likely extinguished now. He’s 6-foot-5 and 308 pounds, but he should still be much faster than 5.45 in the 40. He also should be able to lift more than 17 reps in the bench press. If you are that big you have to be fast or strong. Aboushi was neither.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham