Breaking Down Pac-12 Players At The Combine
Breaking down the Pac-12 players at the Combine this weekend.
With the 2012 NFL Combine rolling, here’s a three-part look at what to expect from the invited Pac-12 players.
The first part, “Something to Show” is a list of the players that are highly touted and predicted to do well and get drafted high. They enjoyed a phenomenal career and are seen as one of the best at their positions. All they have to do at the Combine is show off their impressive talent.
The players in the “Something to Prove” need to do just that at the Combine. They may have had a bad few seasons after a good, or an overall underperforming career. These are the players that have potential, but need to have an excellent weekend.
The “Something to Gain” players had an excellent All-Star game and are on the rise. Their exquisite skill was highlighted in these games, and now they’re enjoying more attention. A great performance at the Combine is exactly what they need to cap off their recruiting season.
Something to Show
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
The small running back that plays very big, he had an incredible run at Oregon, benefiting immensely from Chip Kelly’s spread offense. He is extremely quick and shifty, and this elusiveness and speed got him more awards than one would imagine for just a 5-9, 195-pound back. He catches the ball exceptionally well out of the backfield and is a dangerous weapon when lined up at different positions.
SHOW OFF: Quickness, allusiveness, ball-catching ability.
Matt Kalil, OL, USC
Kalil aptly deserves his high rating. He is a total technician, with great size and athleticism. He is still growing, but an excellent base, coupled with top-notch mechanics and techniques ensures that his skills will stay on par with his new size. This top draft prospect is the player every team would love to have protecting a franchise quarterback.
SHOW OFF: Technique, Athleticism and Impress in Classroom
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
An excellent decision-maker with superior leadership and mental toughness with flawless mechanics and surprising athleticism. The only thing this franchise quarterback has to do is prove the hype, but that’s not going to happen after he chose not to throw. He has been making headlines for the past two years, and he doesn’t really have to be in Indy.
SHOW OFF: Decision-making, Accuracy, Agility, Open Field Running … that’ll all come in the Pro Day.
Ryan Miller, OL, Colorado
As solid as elite tackles come, Miller is strong with great technique, excellent hands and feet. He looked very comfortable pulling and cross-blocking and seemed to have a strong handle on positioning and body placement. He stays on feet while at the next level and uses that great motor to keep blocking down the field.
SHOW OFF: Quickness, Pulling Ability, Blocking Technique
David DeCastro, OL, Stanford
DeCastro is the proto-typical guard – is powerful enough to stick blocks, nimble enough to pull and make blocks and tough enough to fight during blocks. He dominates his opponent in the run game, especially, as his technique is sound and uses great upper body strength and big, driving legs to move would-be tacklers out of the way. He finds someone to block when pulling and when he easily gets to the linebackers and even secondary.
SHOW OFF: One-on-One battle, Quickness When Pulling
Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford
For three years, Martin had in the honorable task of protecting an NFL team’s franchise quarterback, and he did so to great acclaim. Highly regarded as one of the most dominant blockers in the country, Martin’s combination of athleticism, hand placement and strength makes him very tough to beat on the edge. An impressive array of tools and skills, including stunt recognition and adjustment, makes him a very juicy pick.
SHOW OFF: Strength, Technique, Nastiness and Toughness, One-on-One Dominance
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
This Huskies workhorse racked up a ton of yards, records and a few impressive performances over his career. His big and solid build allows him to bowl over defenders, as he breaks tackles and uses the stiff arm better than anyone else in the conference. Very nimble and light on his feet for a 220-pounder, he may not have blazing speed, but doesn’t get caught from behind and pulls away from would-be tacklers. Polk is a tough inside runner who fast is around the edge, and blocks very well with good hands. He can take a lot of carries and carry an offense. He will have a lot of use in the NFL.
SHOW OFF: Speed, Strength, Agility, Footwork
Something to Prove
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
Burflict’s immense talent is undeniable. He’s big, strong, quick, lays the lumber and has a relentless motor. He makes plays in the backfield and from sideline-to-sideline. In short, he’s an absolute terror on the field. What made him, “The Most Feared Man in College Football”, makes him the most warned prospect in the Pac-12. Vontaze racked up 17 personal foul penalties in 35 games; about one every two games. Also add all the other penalties, missed assignments, mistakes and just bonehead plays and you have a real problem – an uncontrolled, undisciplined talent. His head coach couldn’t control him and paid for it with his job. If Burflict can’t prove that he can control himself, he’ll pay for it with low draft selection.
MUST PROVE: Discipline, Understanding of Defensive Schemes
Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Playing alongside a stud quarterback that was amongst the country lead in passing yards should have made Criner a household name. But it didn’t. The big, strong receiver had injury issues but still put up decent career numbers, including 80+ reception, 1200+ yards, 11 TDs in his junior campaign. Criner is a big play, deep threat with great speed that occasionally plays physical. He has shown that he can out-muscle defenders and always comes down with the ball. He just has to remind everyone that he is there.
MUST PROVE: Reliable hands, he’s the star you never heard of.
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
Foles is the most talented thrower you never heard of. Apparently being fifth in the country in passing doesn’t get you that much press. A pure passer and “gun slinger”, Foles put up staggering numbers in the Wildcats spread offense. While this style of play is slowly creeping into the NFL, QBs who cannot adjust to a regular under-center offense, usually have a hard time adjusting. This may be Foles. His ridiculous passing numbers is largely due to short, underneath routes. Although he does place the ball where his receivers can make yards after the reception, they are still short passes. But Foles’ biggest attribute may be his biggest detractor. His prototypical 6-5, 240-pound frame gives him great height and strength but also allows a slow wind-up style of delivery that opposing defenders can use to pick him off, or knock the ball out of his hands as they rush him. He has a fairly high football IQ, which may make him a better project than high prospect.
MUST PROVE: Reliable Mechanics, Downfield Accuracy, Pocket Mobility
Chris Galippo, LB, USC
A highly productive and lucrative college career was predicted, but it just did not turn out that way. Just amassing 47 tackles, one and a half sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery in your senior year isn’t going to excite anyone. He’s a tough player that doesn’t shy away from contact and hits pretty hard. Seems to be a little late with reads and definitely have questionable instincts. Not quick in any means and this is problematic in the passing game. He does have experiences playing inside and out, looking more comfortable inside. Galippo will be a special teams player that has to work his way to a regular position.
MUST PROVE: Quickness, Speed, Covering Ability, Instincts, Reads
Marc Tyler, RB, USC
A disappointing senior campaign caped off a disappointing college career for Marc Tyler. He uses his stout 5-11, 230-pound frame to batter inside defenders. A bruising runner in between the tackles, he seems to enjoy contact. He lacks explosive outside speed, but is quick in the open field. He has great hands and catch the ball well. For someone who has such a tough running style, He was injury prone, missing substantial time to hamstring and shoulder issues. This workhorse running back’s numbers suffered due to durability concerns, discipline and the fact that he was stuck in a USC system that doesn’t use one.
MUST PROVE: Durability, Blocking Ability
James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
Rodgers ate up the Oregon State record books, setting the mark in career receptions and all-purpose yards. He is a dynamic player; terrifically quick and an instant play maker. Very versatile, he showed brilliance taking reverses and other gadgety rushing plays, alongside his regular receiving duties. He has great soft hands and the ability to exploit underneath holes and make yards after the catch. But the biggest obstacle for the “little big man” is just that – his size. At only 5-7 178 pounds, he will be bullied as a receiver and will never see any rushes at the next level. At this size, even his 4.5 40-yard dash in underwhelming, as you would expect him to be faster. Best fit will be a part-time weapon in a spread scheme.
MUST PROVE: Increase Speed, Size, Strength
Nick Perry, DL, USC
The former All-American high school prospect never quite lived up to the top billing while at USC, despite being named the Pac-10’s All-Freshman team, among others. In his three years, he never put up huge numbers and wasn’t seen as dominating. His inconsistent play is partly due to injuries and that he struggles when ran at. He does have experience playing a 3-4 defense under Monte Kifin, so he’s well coached in an NFL-style system. Although he is exceptionally quick, his strength lets him down at times, as well as his limited move repertoire. A great, athletic pass rusher.
MUST PROVE: Strength, Move Repertoire, Tackling, Durability
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
Kendricks capped off a career where he improved every year, with an impressive 107 tackle senior campaign. He never missed a game due to injury and started every game in his final three seasons. A very good all around player, with no standout qualities, he possesses good speed with a great motor and can fly around the field. Oddly enough, his muscular frame doesn’t take on blocks well, even at 6-0 and 240 pounds, he plays undersized. In space and in the coverage game, he lacks awareness and is definitely not a natural cover guy. He isn’t particularly impressive rushing the QB, as his lack of lateral quickness proves costly. He does use his frame to get under blockers and it’s due to his hustle that he actually gets to the quarterback. He is a very hard hitter that doesn’t shy away from contact and will get his nose dirty. Kendricks presents as a very good player with no exceptional qualities. He’ll have to show some in Indy to stand out.
MUST PROVE: Strength, Dominate One-on-One, Speed, Agility
Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
It was somewhat of a shock that Osweiler announced that he will forgo his senior year at Arizona State and enter the NFL Draft, even though he posted a ridiculous 140.47 QB rating, passing for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. More so because the 6-8 pivot is so raw. Being such a giant warrants sloppy footwork and awkward mechanics. Sadly enough, Osweiler boasts both of these with one outstanding upside – a cannon of an arm. He will have in no doubt the strongest arm in the Draft and at the Combine and has proven that he can make big throws. The ASU offense wasn’t particularly a vertical one, so there isn’t much tape on how great is arm really is. Osweiler is a quintessential pocket passer with a big arm, that after watching a learning for a few seasons, can make an impact on many NFL rosters.
MUST PROVE: Mechanics, Footwork, Show Off Arm Strength
Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford
With such a stud at QB, it is extra disappointing that Owusu isn’t mentioned among the country’s elite WRs. Whether it’s injuries or inconsistency, his play never lived up to the expectations. The three concussions in the last year in a half will definitely damper the excitement for him, even though he has good size and can contribute as a kick returner. An average route runner with pretty good speed, he does break tackles very well and keeps the potential alive for making plays. He is not bad at creating separation, but could improve getting off the line.
MUST PROVE: Hands, Quickness, Durability, Speed
Something to Gain
Bryan Anger, P, California
First team Pac-10/12 selection three consecutive years and a career punting average of 44 yards, but it took an outstanding performance in the East West Shrine game for Anger to really attract eyes. He averaged over 60 yards per punt, pinning two inside the 20-yardline and one within the 10. Excellent hit on the ball with a quick release and impressive hang time.
SHOW OFF: Quick Release, Hang Time, Distance
Cory Harkey, TE, UCLA
Harkey received the highest of praise from NFL Draft guru, Mike Mayock, “he is the best blocking Tight End in college football". Harkey has excellent blocking technique. Huge pop at the point of attack and strong, churning legs, he has great fight in him and moves around lineman at will. He’s powerful, finishes all his blocks and doesn’t make mistakes. Harkley is hampered by average speed, so he does not get much separation as a receiver. His hands are average and he tends to catch with his body. It is obvious that he is an elite blocker, with room to work in the receiving game.
SHOW OFF: Strength, Blocking Technique
Christian Tupou, DL, USC
Losing his entire junior year to injury did not deter Tupou. He followed up the redshirt year with an All-Pac 12 honorable mention. He is extremely nimble and quick for such a 300 pounder. An explosive first step, starts a relentless motor that takes him all over the field. Takes on blocks very well and is a natural run-stopper. He does have a tendency to drop his head as he rushes and seem to have some difficulty with his hand placement. He played in a rotating line at USC that was loaded with talent, so he knows how to watch and learn. That’s what he’ll have to do.
SHOW OFF: Strength, Quickness
Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State
Robinson had an excellent week of practice at the Senior Bowl and played very well in the game. He is a definite play maker, as he uses his long strides to disguise his speed. He can easily body up and bully defenders with his large frame and elite athleticism. Robinson can also play in the slot and with his improving hands, has a lot of upside to offer an NFL club.
SHOW OFF: Size, Athleticism, Strength, Hands
David Paulson, TE, Oregon
To fit into the Ducks spread offense, everyone has to run and catch well; including the tight ends, Paulson is a natural pass receiver that uses his height and size well. He catches the ball with great hand placement and runs pretty good routes. He’s a little stiff sitting in and coming out of his stance, but his sure hands, makes up for it.
He’s surprisingly athletic and will compete to make tough catches. His blocking is inconsistent, but coachable. With a player like Pauslon, you are primarily looking for a receiving tight end.
SHOW OFF: Hands, Route Running, Athleticism
Josh Kaddu, LB, Oregon
After a brilliant practice week at the East West Shrine game, Kaddu’s stock is steady rising. He has great speed with an excellent motor, and is very comfortable and natural in space. His body is efficient and allows for fluid movement. A big hitter on special teams too, Kaddu is very athletic and can be an impactful 3-4 LB. Kaddu seems to be a better athlete than high football IQ, natural player, but has enough skill to contribute in a back-up role and heavily on special teams.
SHOW OFF: Athleticism, Speed
DaJohn Harris, DL, USC
After too much inconsistency to ignore, Harris played in the East West Shrine game instead of the Senior Bowl. He is big, tough and ridiculously strong with a relentless motor. He pursues exceptionally well and always finds himself near the pile. He moves very well in pursuit and is as strong as he is quick. In battle, Harris displays a brilliant mix of size, quickness and power. Impressive all around.
SHOW OFF: Size, Power, Balance, Speed, Motor
Mitchell Schwartz, OL, California
The versatile lineman has seen action as tackle and center. Not a natural center, but he fought hard at the Senior Bowl when asked to do so. He was able to accomplish this, due to excellent technique and solid fundamentals. His great technique and solid fundamentals allowed for this. A tall, built frame allows him to move easily and his initial quickness off the line is too much for defenders to handle. Does an excellent job of always being in optimal blocking position.
SHOW OFF: Speed Burst, Technique, Lower Body Strength, Athleticism