The NFL Combine is fast approaching and expectations are starting to be established. Unfortunately, some of those expectations aren’t realistic. A lot of people are going to be disappointed with some of these workouts. Others will be shocked by those sleepers that haven’t been talked about as often by many draft analysts. So, to help keep some realistic expectations, here are a few predictions on what you can look forward to through the week of workouts.
1) Marcus Davenport will underwhelm and eventually drop out of the first round
What draws people to Marcus Davenport, the EDGE from UTSA, is his athleticism for his size. To his credit, he does move very well for a guy who’s in the ball park of 6’6 and 260 lbs. However, if you take away the disclaimer “for his size”, I think he’ll test out as a good, not great, athlete. I don’t think he’s going to prove to be especially strong considering he’s pretty light in terms of defensive ends and can be pushed around some at the point of attack. I expect his agility to be pretty good compared to the rest of the EDGE rushers, but not as good as some of the smaller rush linebackers. At the end of the day, I believe Davenport will be a nimble DE and a strong OLB, but not an eye-popping overall package.
2) The interior offensive line will be the most impressive group
This is a very good class of offensive linemen, especially on the interior. Consequently, I expect this group to be one of the most impressive overall in the workouts as well. Between powerhouse guards like Will Hernandez, quick movers like Mason Cole, and just overall studs like Quenton Nelson and Billy Price, there are going to be some excellent scores along the interior OL. Don’t be shocked to see more than half a dozen guys from this group drafted before the second round is over.
3) This group of linebackers will prove to be overhyped
I’m not going to lie to you, this looks like a pretty strong group of linebackers. However, the hype I’ve heard is getting out of hand. Of course Tremaine Edmunds is a good athlete. He’s an amazing athlete considering he’s only 19 years old. That said, no one should be comparing Edmunds to 19 year olds; he should be compared to other NFL athletes. In that case he’s good, perhaps very good, but I’m not convinced he’s elite.
— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) January 12, 2018
Leighton Vander Esch is also being touted as an incredible athlete. I think that may be overstated as well. I expect him to test as a good, not great, athlete at the Combine. Even guys like Rashaan Evans and Roquan Smith — who I think are great athletes — may not turn out to be the elite workout warriors some are expecting. Overall I think we all need to temper our expectations a bit with this group.
4) Red flags will pop up and big talents will fall as a result
As much stock as we put into the flashy workout numbers — which is more than we should — the most important part of this will be the interviews and medical checks. These are the aspects that we as evaluators just can’t get from watching film. And make no mistake, this process has a major impact on a players draft stock. Look no further than Reuben Foster last season, who slid out of the top ten despite clearly having the talent, and almost fell out of the first round all together.
Spoiler alert: something similar will probably happen this year, too. Guys like Nick Chubb and Josh Sweat are talented players, but will slide in the Draft if their medical checks don’t go well. Then there are guys like Antonio Callaway (WR from Florida) who are incredibly talented, but may be undraftable due to off-the-field problems. The interview portion of the Combine could make or break his entire career, along with several others in a similar position. Be on the lookout for these reports and for the stock of guys like this to be in decline.
5) Expect Anthony Miller’s stock to be on the rise
This is a draft class where no wide receivers have really separated themselves from the pack. Most would agree that Calvin Ridley is the best in this class, but after that it’s wide open. Anthony Miller is a true deep threat with the ability to take the top off the defense. His ability to play outside as well as the slot makes him a versatile play-maker who can do most everything you could want a big time wide receiver to do. I expect him to open some eyes at the Combine and be one of the top three receivers off the board.
6) John Kelly will solidify his place as a top five running back in this class
It’s obvious that John Kelly is a very good player on the field, and I’m willing to bet he is almost as impressive as an athlete. Sure, there are guys who are stronger and guys that are faster, but in terms of the complete package I think Kelly will prove to be one of the best. He’s strong enough to run people over with regularity and quick enough to make multiple defenders miss. Based on these things I’ve seen on the field, it’s hard for me to see him not testing well in all these areas. If Kelly isn’t a lock to be one of the first five running backs off the board going into the Combine, he certainly will afterwards.