The NFL Scouting Combine is a part of the draft process, but it should not be considered the end-all-be-all. There are those who put a
lot of stock into the Scouting Combine and base their draft projections on how a prospect performs in a dome environment wearing
spandex. I am not one of those flawed thinkers and do not overreact to the good and bad that takes place during the NFL's annual
track and field meet.
I have always used the Combine for what it is - a tool during the evaluation process that reveals the exact measurements (which are
basically guesstimates during the season) of prospects and produces the sports science numbers that provide more insight into the
player when you reevaluate them on film. That's it.
The most important aspects of the Combine, and what ultimately helps a prospect rise or fall on a team's board, happen behind the
scenes during medical evaluations and individual interviews.
With that said, here are the five offensive prospects, post-Combine, who impressed, and the five who need to be reassessed.
Five Who Impressed:
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
It wasn't a surprise that Armstead stood out athletically at the Scouting Combine, given his background in track. But, it was amazing
how much he stood out, most notably running the 40-yard dash. The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Armstead posted the best 40-time (4.71) for
an offensive linemen in Combine history, and also recorded 31 reps on the bench, a 34.5-inch vertical and a 9-foot-3-inch broad jump.
Armstead is not a finished product on-the-field and has to work on his technique, but the athleticism he possesses will excite any
offensive line coach in the NFL.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The word "electric" best describes the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Austin, and at the Combine he demonstrated his elite athleticism, as he ran
a 4.34 in the 40, generated a 32-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump. The best part about Austin's performance at the Combine is
that when you watch him on film, his game speed matches his time speed, which is always a plus. Not to mention, his pass catching
and route running really stood out during drills. Austin, who is my 2nd rated wide receiver and ranked 17th overall, solidified his
standing as a mid-first round selection.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
From an athletic standpoint, the 6-foot-6, 232-pound Bray didn't stand out at the Combine, and that was expected as he ran a 5.05 in
the 40 and registered a 8-foot-3-inch broad jump. But physically, Bray featured a more developed appearance, showcased a live arm
and improved accuracy, which was a question mark heading into the Combine. In terms of arm talent and potential, Bray, who is
currently my 4th rated quarterback and ranked 45th overall, already rates amongst the best in this year's quarterback class and should
only ascend further on draft boards leading up to the draft.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
As a former high school quarterback and college tight end and defensive end, the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Johnson isn't the most polished
offensive tackle in the draft, due to his inexperience at the position, but he's one of the most athletic, and the performance he had at
the Combine (4.72, 40; 28 reps of 225, 34-inch vertical and a 9-foot-8-inch broad jump) will surely raise his status around the league.
Currently, Johnson is rated 34th overall on my board, which was released prior to the Combine, with an arrow pointing up. Expect his
position to increase even more in my next update.
Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
A member of my All-Crystal Baller Team, the 6-foot, 205-pound Swope, who I had a mid-round grade on entering the Combine, had an
explosive showing recording a 4.34 in the 40, a 37-inch vertical and a 10-foot-4-inch broad jump. He also showed off impressive
strength by putting up 16 reps on the bench. In my opinion, Swope has the highest football IQ of any receiver in the draft and when
you put that in the equation - along with his production and Combine performance - teams will covet his winning style earlier than
anticipated on draft day.
Five To Be Reassessed:
Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
One of the most unexpected performances came from the 5-foot-10, 227-pound Davis, who caught many off guard with his 4.37 in the
40. Davis is known more for his physical style, which was on display during the bench press where he completed 31 reps. However,
his physical style translated into an injury plagued career. Scouts have some homework to do on Davis now, and see if they missed
something or if his performance was just the work of a workout warrior.
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
When evaluating the 6-foot-6, 254-pound Escobar on film, his ability to stretch the seam and accelerate after the catch is apparent, but
at the Combine, that skill set didn't translate, as he ran a disappointing 4.84 in the 40. I am not overly concerned about his 40-time and
there could be many contributing factors for the slower than anticipated time, but it's something to check on when reevaluating his play.
Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin
The 6-foot-4, 312-pound Frederick, who is currently my second rated center, failed to replicate the athleticism he showed on film at the
Combine. His footwork during drills was off and he ended up running one of the slowest 40's (5.58) of all the offensive linemen.
Frederick could have just had a bad day, or he wasn't properly prepared for the Combine.
Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh
Not that the 5-foot-9, 199-pound Graham was considered to be a high-round selection, but he was viewed as a promising mid-round
pick, who possessed great speed and explosion, and had the potential to be a quality back in the NFL. Graham still may have an NFL
future, but after he ran a 4.80 in the 40, there are many questions; one being, has he fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered
during the 2011 season? That will have to be sorted out.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The 6-foot-1, 214-pound Hopkins has all of the tools to be a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, but I will admit that I was expecting a
much faster 40-time from my third rated wide receiver (21st overall). Hopkins plays faster on film than the 4.57 he generated at the
Combine, but he demonstrated solid lower body explosion with a 36-inch vertical and 9-foot-6-inch broad jump. His timed speed may
not worry some, because of his overall skill set, but something is amiss and has to be evaluated further.