NFL Draft: Combine Standouts and Disappointments
by Trevor Whenham - 3/4/2011
This is pretty self-explanatory -- some guys help their cause as NFL Draft prospects with their Combine performance, and other guys hurt it. Here’s a few of each:
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami - Van Dyke came into this season as a backup, so what he has accomplished is really remarkable. He had a ton of buzz coming out of the Shrine game and at the Combine he only built on that. He was blazing fast and ridiculously athletic overall. A guy that scouts had never heard of a year ago will now go in the first three rounds, and maybe even higher if the buzz continues to build.
Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama - Dareus has the potential to be the top overall pick, and nothing he did in Indianapolis will change that. He was fast for his massive size, he was strong, and he showed explosiveness and athleticism that certainly appears to put him at or near the top of a very deep defensive line class. He’d be my top pick.
Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina - Quinn had all sorts of questions coming into the offseason after being suspended last year. He answered many of those questions. He was fast for a lineman, but where he really stood out was in the position drills. He looked athletic and very impressive in comparison to the rest of the people at the position. Given he had a year of rust to knock off it was quite the performance.
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue - I could watch Kerrigan play all day. He’s one of those guys that just doesn’t know how to quit. Needless to say, I’ve been high on him all along, and with his performance in Indy he justified that support. He was strong enough and fast enough, and he looked very good in his position drills. He secured a position in the bottom half of the first round -- at least -- and he’ll be a very nice pick for a team there.
Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State - I am not a fan of Ponder at all -- he’s just too fragile for me. Despite that, though, I have to admit that he was very impressive in the QB drills. He threw well, showed off a strong, accurate arm, and will get himself picked before having to wait too long.
Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho - I’ve seen Enderle play twice, and I came away impressed both times. He’s not the next Sam Bradford or anything, but he deserves a chance to show what he can do on a pro roster. After his performance at the Combine he should get that chance. His accuracy was good, and he throws the ball like it’s been shot out of a cannon. Ryan Mallett was the guy with the big arm going into the drills, and Enderle matched up well beside him.
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado - There isn’t a clear leader in the race to be the best tackle, but Solder may have done enough to distinguish himself here. He was fast enough to stand out, and he was very athletic in the drills -- more athletic than you expect from a tackle. The only knock was that his bench press wasn’t great, but if he can exhibit more strength before the draft his could be the first offensive line name called.
Ahmad Black, S, Florida - Buzz had been building steadily around Black the last little while. I’m not sure it will anymore. He didn’t look like his head was into what he was doing, and it showed with his results. His running was slow, his drills were underwhelming, and he just didn’t look at all like a top-level pick. He needs to hope that scouts will forgive a very bad day.
Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA - When the class of pass rushers is as deep as it is this year you need to distinguish yourself with your speed. Ayers really didn’t. In fact, his speed was a major disappointment, and that could cost him several draft spots -- and perhaps even drop him out of the first round.
Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M - Johnson was a guy I loved to watch in college, but his pro hopes weren’t particularly bright. He needed to have a huge day at the Combine to energize his cause. He didn’t. His accuracy was horrific and his velocity was lacking. Combine that with his injury issues last year and you have a guy who just isn’t going to be very attractive to teams.
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin - As a Michigan fan I know too well how dangerous Clay can be on the field. Despite the very shallow running back class, though, there were questions around his role in the pros because he doesn’t have the size and speed of a typical running back. Unfortunately he did nothing to change those perceptions with a glacially slow running effort at the Combine. He’ll likely be looked at as a fullback now, and fullbacks never come off the board early.
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State - Sherrod had been gaining momentum as a left tackle prospect throughout the season. That momentum ground to a halt at the Combine. He was slow, and it’s hard to tell if his poor performance in the drills was because he was out of shape or because he just isn’t athletic enough. Big red flags were run up the flag pole here.
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