Not sure if you're like me, but I've been getting into the combine for the last several seasons it has become available over NFL network and NFL.com. I enjoy listening to the experts they bring in to analyze the drills. I enjoy putting faces to the names that I read in Mock Drafts. The combine is a fun way to prep for the draft as a fan, because you won't be left in the dark when the Packers draft Mike Neal in the second round.
So I'm trying to watch and gather some info on players who I like, and also gain knowledge on "project players". I'm going to jot some notes this weekend on some players I'm noticing:
Some players I'm noticing:
Players that impressed are bold.
QB : Christian Ponder: Florida St : 6'2'' : 229
This guy stands out in a group of talented quarterbacks. He looks good dropping back from center and shows accuracy downfield. I don't want this guy in MN, he looks like the real deal. I think he's the best QB not named Cam Newton in this draft.
WR: Edmond Gates : Abilene Christian: 6'0 : 192
You might be reading about the next Oakland Raider right here. When the NFL network crew did their simultaneous playback of the fastest 40 yard runs, Gates blows by the rest at the gun. It looks like other runners had superior technique and top speed, but Gate acceleration was noticeably stronger.
MLB: Greg Jones: Michigan State : 6'1 : 240
Greg Jones would have been one of the premier inside linebackers had he come out last year, but he stuck around for one more year at Michigan State. He was the leader of that defense and will be a good starting linebacker in the NFL. No on is calling him the consensus best inside linebacker in this draft, but I think he's still one of the best.
MLB: Casey Matthews : Oregon : 6'1 231
Matthews' combine was cut short by aggravating shoulder injury, which could see him slide down into later rounds.
DL: D'Aundre Reed : Arizona : 6'4'' : 261
Watching some defensive lineman drills: This is a big tall guy with a solid frame. Reed is doing drills next to Aldon Smith and looks almost as smooth. Aldon is looking like a first round pick, so Reed is a prospect to watch going forward.
DL: Aldon Smith : Missoui : 6'4'' : 263
Likely first round pick has good feet and great size.
DL: JJ Watt : Wisconsin : 6'6'' : 290
We all know Watt. He's looking really strong at the combine and should be gone before the Packers choose at 31.
DB : Brandon Harris : Miami : 5'9 : 191
He's somewhere between 5'9 and 5'10. He's fast, strong, and catches the ball well. His size may be a concern though. I like a corner with Jimmy Smith's size. (6'2 211) Deion Sanders seems to love this guy, and I think players can be good evaluators of talent when analyzing prospects at their position. Comes out of breaks really well.
DB : Aaron WIlliams : Texas : 6'0 : 204
He's got some pedigree: his father and uncle played ball. He wants to be a corner, but some scouts are projecting him as a safety. This is a player that might be the best available when the Packers choose at 31, and I wouldn't be disappointed one bit. Williams looks good. Legs were a little wild when changing direction in back pedal.
Note: Williams is my pick at 31 if the draft follows current mock trends.
DB: Johnny Patrick : Louisville : 5'11'' : 191
Quick, fluid runner with good ball skills. Looks like a player that could contribute immediately in the right nickel or dime situation. Moves well and stays low in a backpedal, caught the ball well.
DB: Josh Thomas : Buffalo: 5'11 : 191
We struck gold with Starks out of Buffalo, maybe Thomas get Thompson's attention too. This guy appeared to have ice running through his veins when I watched him approaching some of his drills. When many guys are looking nervous and shaky, Thomas appeared confident and focused. He ran well too. Moved really well in backpedal drills, good hips, caught the ball at the highest point almost every time. This guy looks really good, has active feet in and out of breaks.
Note: This was my favorite player coming from the combine not names Aaron Williams
DB : Richard Sherman: Stanford: 6'3'' 195
Project corner back that has some potential with great size and length. Can't seem to catch the ball.
DB: Chris Culliver : South Carolina : 6'0 : 199
Good change of direction and speed. Stood out in drills consistently.
DB: David Sims : Iowa St : 5'9 : 200
Thick framed tacking strong safety. Caught the ball well and moved well in drills for a strong man.
DB: Da'Norris Searsy: North Carolina : 5'11 : 223
Benched 225 27 times. That's more than some offensive lineman. He looks bulky but moves surprisingly well. He also caught everything thrown his way and made good adjustments to the ball at the last second. Impressive workouts and standout performance in position drills.
S: Robert Sands : West Virginia : 6'4'' : 217
Wow, what a monster? A giant safety. Ran a 4.56 40. Looks like he struggles to stay low when running, might be too top heavy. Has wild legs when changing direction in a backpedal.
Sorry for the abundance of defensive backs. I sure wish I could have watched the other days as much as I was able to watch today's coverage of the combine.
Some commentary on popular combine stories:
Cam Newton - He's a monster athlete and someone will find a way to use him in the NFL this season.
Blaine Gabbert - I'm sorry, who let Brady Quinn into the combine again?
Patrick Peterson - Amazingly talented player, best at his position by far, like really far.
Nick Fairly : I think I spelled his name wrong, but I don't care because he's a dirty player with way too much hype. Can you tell I don't like this guy?
Gabe Carimi: I love me some Gabe Carimi. He might be the most confident lineman, by many reports, but he's also one of the most talented and physically gifted lineman at the combine. I hope he's not playing in Chicago next year, that might break my heart.