My impressions of the first 2 days of the NFL Combine.
By Bill Smith
Mike Thomas WR Arizona was not a player that got a lot of attention before the combine. But that all changed when he ran a 4.31 40 yard dash. In addition he caught everything during the combine WR field work on Sunday including the attention of every scout of a team that needs a WR. At 5-8 195 lb. he reminded everyone of Steve Smith the all pro WR in Carolina.
Another WR that had a really good day Sunday was Brian Robiskie Ohio State. The 6-3 209 pound receiver ran a 4.49 40. Reportedly he did extremely well on the chalk board explaining coverages. He should because he is the son of Atlanta Falcons WR Terry Robiskie. Brian too did extremely well catching the ball including a spectacular one handed catch falling out of bounds on errant throw.
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland ran the best WR time at 4.30 and had a 38.5 vertical jump. Because he is 6-2 210 he helped himself significantly. Heyward-Bey has moved up to the late first round.
Johnny Knox WR Abilene Christian ran a 4.34 which was third fastest in the group but pulled up in the pattern portion of the combine with what looked like a pulled muscle.
A couple of highly rated running backs hurt themselves with very poor 40 yard dash times. Ohio State RB Beanie Wells ran a 4.59 and Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno had a 4.61. That is not good for a running back. Wells had said that he expected to run under 4.5 but at 235 pounds, 4.59 is not a draft killer. Wells did show his athleticism with a long jump of 10’8” the best for all RBs.
For Moreno, it is a different story. There are a lot 5-11 215-220 backs in the NFL but most that are major contributors run a lot faster than Moreno did. Moreno was listed by some experts as the top running back in the draft. That time will undoubtedly affect that rating.
Scratch your head award:
Percy Harvin ? Florida had a bit of a problem coming into the draft anyway because he has no real NFL position. While he played both RB and WR in college, he is too slight to be a RB in the NFL and has none of the developed skills of last year mini-might WR DeShawn Jackson. If Harvin is going to be considered a first or second round pick, he was going to have to show he can run crisp routes and understands how to get open in man, zone or combo coverages. To the surprise of everyone at Indy, he decided not to participate in the route drills at the combine. He will have a lot of teams at his pro day because he played at Florida. Had he played for the U of Michaelina, he would be a 4h or 5th round pick because no one would have seen his workout at the school.
The Hold your water award:
The second ranked receiver in the draft, Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri, is suffering from a hyper extended knee. That is more of a concern because as a freshman he suffered a very serious knee injury that caused him to miss the year. He will hopefully be able to perform at the pro day at school.
In the physical exam as part of the Combine, Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech has been diagnosed with a slight stress fracture in the 5th metacarpal of the left foot. He will have a minor operation to put a screw in the foot. The problem for Crabtree is that if the teams don’t have any 40 time, he could considerably fall 10-20 spots in the draft. That fall would likely cost him around 15 million in guaranteed money. He said Sunday that he will run the 40 before he has his operation but did not say when. The downside of that decision is that he will not be available for Organized Team Activities after the draft. Although it was not generally known, he said that he played with the problem the entire 08 season without pain.
Back from the dead—maybe.
Alex Boone Ohio State OL got his ticket to the combine late. It was lost in the Orange County Jail postal system. He weighted in at 328 which was a little heavier than expected but had a very solid showing in the 225 weight lifting with 33 reps which tied for 3rd among OL. He also had a respectable 40 time at 5.17.
Missing from action:
Andre Smith OT Alabama announced on Friday he would not participate in the combine and promptly disappeared. Now it is not easy for a 328 pounder to vanish but he changed his air flight to early Saturday morning and flew back home. The fact that he didn’t bother to tell anyone he was leaving was a concern. The fact that he was 328 pounds is a major issue.
Smith has been known as a very immature player and the latest episode doesn’t help him. He preformed well on the field and when he was suspended from the bowl game for violating an undisclosed team rule, the Tide gave up 8 sacks most of which came over the left tackle position. After last season, he was thought to be a candidate for the top choice overall. He was in the discussion at the end of the regular season for the top 5 draft choice. But we have seen players eat their way out of the league. That is a HUGE (excuse the pun) issue with Smith. NFL teams are going to be very hesitant to give a big contract with millions of guaranteed dollars to someone that does not have enough sense or work ethic to properly prepare for the combine.
His lack of preparation for the combine has cost him at least 15 million in guaranteed money and possibly as much as 60 million in his first contract.
My take: Given the fact that he was suspended from the second most important game for Bama in the last 15 years, this lack of maturity would make me take him off my draft chart or at the very least move him into the 3rd or 4th round.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]