Monday, March 5, 2012

Combine Winners and Losers

By: Brian Sanchez

With the combine now complete it is time to look at player performances, and of course the only thing that matters, what happened to their draft stock?  Let's take a look at the 5 winners and losers of the NFL combine.  


1.  NT Dontari Poe, Memphis
     Mount Poe exploded onto the scene during his combine workout.  He was already graded in the first round.  He was slated to be a late first round pick for teams that ran a 3-4.  Now Poe is a top 20, even a top 15 pick regardless of what defense a team runs.  Why?  Because he is not strictly a nose tackle.  Would he be a good Nose Tackle?  Yeah.  But by running an astonishing 4.98 40 yard dash despite being 6'4" and 346 lbs.  With that size and athleticism Poe jumped up big boards and is possibly one of the top 2 DT/NT taken.

2.  WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
     Hill was the Poe of offense at the combine.  And he needed to be.  Coming from Georgia Tech where they run the triple option Hill only had 28 catches last season because they rarely throw.  Hill burned the track at the combine running a 4.36 40 yd. dash and measured in at 6'5" 206 lbs. Hill reminded people of the previous two WR's to come from Georgia Tech, Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas.  Hill is not as highly rated of a prospect as Megatron or Thomas, but he has now jumped into the first round.  Hill is now a popular projection to the 49ers at the end of the first round, but if he has a good pro day he may not even be available at the end of the first.  Hill's jump up big boards seems to be just as fast as his 40 time.

3.  QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan St.
     Cousins had a very good combine, and while it didn't do the things for him that it did for Poe and Hill, it did help him.  After Luck and Griffin there are big question marks at the second tier QB level.  Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill did not throw due to injury leaving the door open.  While Tannehill is believed to still be the No. 3 QB, Cousins is now a close No. 4.  The QB position is way over valued and Cousins could reap the benefits.  Going from a 4th round prospect to a 2nd round prospect will land you as the No. 3 biggest winner from the combine.

4.  TE Coby Fleener, Stanford
     This draft is light on talented TE's and may not have one taken in the first round.  The draft needed a TE to step up and establish themselves as the top choice.  Fleener did so.  Other top option Dwayne Allen from Clemson did not participate which boosted Fleener automatically, but he did plenty to help himself.  If Fleener can run in the 4.5 40 yard dash range at his pro day he could easily be the No. 1 TE and the New York Giants are looking at a TE at the end of the first.  It has also been noted that Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers loves having a lot of TE's and had Fleener at Stanford.  Duel TE's have been shown to work in a big way in New England with Gronk and Hernandez.  Vernon Davis and Coby Fleener could be lethal.

5.  MLB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
     This is a much more minor winner but still an important one.  Kuechly has always been listed as the top MLB but there were questions about size and athleticism.  He was No. 1 more because of his instincts and lack of other talented players at the position.  But Kuechly showed up bigger at 242 lbs. and surprised evaluators with his athleticism.  So now, Kuechly can climb as high as No. 12 to Seattle who may be losing their MLB Hawthorne.


1.  MLB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona St.
     Here's a guy who was talked about on ESPN and Yahoo! Sports for being the pick of the Baltimore Ravens and the heir apparent to Ray Lewis.  With an average combine he would have remained where he was.  With a great combine he could have jumped into the top 20.  So what did he do?  Fail.  He already has big character concerns, but his athleticism was supposed to outweigh them and make him a first rounder.  Burfict looked sluggish and a little out of shape.  Without the elite athleticism Burfict becomes a fourth to fifth round pick.  He needs a huge pro day to save himself.

2.  WR Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina
     Here is a guy who entered last season as one of the top WR prospects in the country.  Jeffrey is a big WR at 6-4 229 lbs. but his explosiveness has been questioned.  He didn't show good explosiveness on the field and raised questions as to whether or not he can gain separation at the NFL level.  The once top prospect is now staring a second round grade in the face unless he can run very, very fast.

                                                                                    3.  DT Michael Brockers, LSU
     Brockers hurt his stock badly this combine but not as bad as everyone else listed already.  He did take a fall but he is staying in the first round.  Projected as high as 8th overall before the combine Brockers has taken a fall.  He was up to 322 lbs. which seemed to take away from his explosiveness and athleticism.  What may have effected his stock the most is that Poe dominated the combine.  Brockers may have fallen into the teens or even early twenties, but a solid pro day can help him regain a top 15 billing.  

4.  OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
     Upshaw was the defensive MVP of the National Championship and terrorized offensive linemen during the Senior Bowl.  He had climbed mock drafts as high as No. 10 and was listed as one of the premiere pass rushers in the NFL.  He did not run in the combine and that made people question whether or not he has the explosiveness needed for rushing the passer against elite NFL tackles.  He also really struggled dropping back into coverage.  Upshaw will too be relying on a big pro day.

5.  CB Cliff Harris, Oregon
     Harris came into the combine with a second round grade.  With a good combine he could have certainly jumped into the end of the first round despite his character concerns.  With a poor combine and an especially poor 4.58 40 yard dash, Harris could very well have fallen from the 2nd round to the 4th round.

Don't forget to listen to The Sports Report Tuesdays on  You can also get all the information in the sports world by following The Sports Report on Twitter, @SportsReportDU.  Finally, be sure to check out The Sports Report Facebook page.

No comments:

Post a Comment