2012 NFL Combine Buzz
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2011 Pre-Combine Buzz
Breaking Down the 2012 NFL Combine
The importance of Riley Reiff, DTs, & TEs
UP TUESDAY, PART 3. The fastest players, who'll be buzzing, and
And The No. 3 QB Will Be … ?
Last year's big Combine story was Cam Newton, with many lamenting that Andrew Luck hadn't entered the draft early. Had Luck come out, he would've gone No. 1 to Carolina, Newton probably would've gone to Buffalo at the No. 3 spot, and the NFL landscape would look far different right now. Instead, teams like Minnesota – taking Christian Ponder at the 12 – and Tennessee – taking Jake Locker at the eight – panicked and paid retail for quarterbacks that could've and should've been picked up far, far later.
Had Matt Barkley and/or Landry Jones decided to forgo their senior years and come out, they'd have been in the battle for the No. 2 quarterback slot after Luck, and at the very least they would've have been high first-round selections. Considering Indianapolis, Cleveland, Washington, Miami, Kansas City, Seattle, and Arizona have picks in the top 15 and all need a quarterback, the pickings are going to get very slim, very fast unless it's another year of reaching for the position.
That's why the most important prospect this week could be Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, who's coming off a broken foot and won't be able to work out yet. Scouts aren't questioning his raw tools at a prototype 6-5 and 220 pounds with the athleticism to have been used as a receiver earlier in his career. The big concern is whether or not he's a real, live NFL player, and in Indianapolis, Tannehill has to make one team fall in love with him during the interview process.
And he will.
He has the make-up of a franchise quarterback, and he certainly looks the part, but time and again his Aggie teams crumbled in the fourth quarters of games. He was good, but considering the weapons he had around him and the running game to take all the heat off, he should've been better.
For his career, Tannehill completed a decent 63% of his passes, but he threw 15 picks last season, and again, failed way too often with the Aggies losing to Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas State, and Texas in painful fashion. None of that will matter to several teams in the top end of the draft because there aren't many other options.
Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden can spin it with one of the best arms in the draft, but he's too old to spend a first round pick on. Arizona State's Brock Osweiler should move up the charts after workouts, and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Arizona's Nick Foles will be taken in the top 50 out of need, but none of them are considered franchise makers.
Either teams have to mortgage the farm to move up to get Griffin; wait until next year when Barkley, Jones, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, and probably Georgia's Aaron Murray will be available; or they'll have to overpay for a questionable prospect in Tannehill.
Washington at the six, your table is ready.
Baylor, along with most of the unofficial scouting lists, has Robert Griffin listed at 6-2 and 220 pounds. If that's really the case there won't be any issues with Andy Dalton also 6-2, 220. Aaron Rodgers is 6-2 and a rocked up 225, Matthew Stafford is 6-2 and around 230, and Tony Romo is 6-2 and 228. The ideal quarterback size is around 6-4 and 230, but because of his speed, smarts, and athleticism, Griffin will be just fine as long as he comes close with the raw measurements.
No, he's not Michael Vick – even though many seem to want to make the comparison. Vick is short, thick, and has an arm that can put a pea through a 2x4. Griffin, no matter what the scale is going to say, is lanky. He's built more like a punter and is more of a finesse pitcher than a Vick-like flamethrower.
The hardest part in the RGIII evaluation will be how his speed plays a role. He's going to be the fastest player to ever play quarterback in the NFL – he's a world-class hurdler – but he's not built to take a ton of shots in the open field. He didn't take off too often at Baylor last year, using his arm more instead of his feet to come up with big plays, and at the next level he'll likely use his athleticism more in the pocket to shuffle around than he will to take off like Vick does. If Griffin looks thin or comes in smaller than expected, then the running ability takes on even less importance.
No matter what his height and weight, he's still a strong enough prospect to have teams looking to move into the St. Louis No. 2 spot to jump ahead of Cleveland., who's looking to replace the 6-1, 215-pound Colt McCoy.
The Justin Blackmon Issue – Where's All The Receiver Speed?
Back in 2009, all the warning signs were there to suggest that that Michael Crabtree might not be worth a top ten pick.
He played in a gimmicky system that inflated his stats; had a foot issue and didn't run before the draft; and he measured in at a slightly disappointing 6-1 and 215. Even so, NFL scouts fell in love with his potential and glossed over the red flags.
While he hasn't been a bust so far, considering he came up with 72 catches last year playing in the San Francisco offense, he has hardly been an elite target worthy of the No. 10 overall pick. That could still change, but he wouldn't go in the first round in any sort of redraft.
In this draft, the scouts are ignoring the potential issues that suggest that Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon probably isn't worth a top ten pick, much less the No. 2 overall selection by a St. Louis team in desperate need of a receiver. It'll be interesting to see how his workouts over the next few months will affect his stock, and it'll be one of the biggest question marks in the first round.
The elite NFL receivers have to be big and fast – like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, or Andre Johnson – or they have to be extremely quick and/or lightning fast. Blackmon might turn out to be none of the above.
There's no questioning his college résumé, but he's not going to fit the prototype of a top-shelf, No. 1 target when he checks in at around 6-1 and clocks around a 4.6 in the 40. That's not to say he won't be a great pro, but to be taken in the top ten he has to have special traits.
Who is Blackmon? He might be Anquan Boldin, who's almost the exact same size and was glacier-slow in his pre-draft workouts. Of course, any team would be happy if Blackmon cranked out the same stats as Boldin has, but he would still be bucking a trend.
Blackmon's lack of speed is part of a bigger overall issue for a draft class of receivers that'll mostly hover well outside the 4.4 area. Baylor's Kendall Wright should rock the 40, and LSU's 6-4, 200-pound Reuben Randle should open some eyes with around a 4.4, but that might be about it for the top prospects. Some of the smaller receivers like Joe Adams of Arkansas and Patrick Edwards of Houston will come up a big mark, but they'll each check in at well under six feet tall.
The 2012 Edition - Where Have All The Safeties Gone?
This was a part of the pre-Combing buzz last year, and it might be again next season.
Considering the way the passing game has taken over the NFL, and with tight ends now running wild, good safeties are worth their weight in gold. However, for the second year in a row, safety is one of the softest positions in the draft.
Kansas City hit a home run with the fifth pick in the 2010 draft taking Eric Berry, and Earl Thomas was a brilliant grab by Seattle at the 14. Safeties were scarce in 2009, non-existent early on in 2008, and generally disappointing in 2007. Last year, the draft was a disaster for safeties, and this one doesn't look any better.
Alabama's Mark Barron is far and away the No. 1 safety on the board, but he'll miss this week after undergoing double hernia surgery. Teams will likely overpay to get him because the position is such a problem.
Oklahoma State's Markelle Martin can fly, and Notre Dame's Harrison Smith is a playmaker, but the two aren't considered much better than second round free safety picks. The pickings are almost non-existent at strong safety after Barron, with a slew of mid-range prospects but no one who demands to go in the first three rounds.
The importance of Riley Reiff, DTs, & TEs