NFL Draft Talk Volume VIII
As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
What prospects can boost their stock the most with a good outing at the Combine?
All eyes in the football world will be converged on the 300 plus prospects that will be putting their physical skills on the field in the confines of Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend for the NFL Scouting Combine.
There will be several former college stars and standouts that will be looking to separate themselves from the rest of the pack with good performances in the many drills and tests as well as the private interviews that they will have with NFL front office executives.
Here is a short list of prospects that many NFL teams will be looking forward to seeing perform in the on-field drills, test well and host for private interviews to learn more about their character as well as football IQs:
WR D.K. Metcalf: Earlier this month a picture of the Ole Miss receiver and some of his fellow Rebels after an intense weight lifting session went viral, mainly because Metcalf was looking like a hulking defensive end or tight end more than a receiver. Evaluators will want to see if his flexibility limited and his catch radius restricted in his current physique. He also struggled with some drops in his career so they will also be looking to see how he catches the ball.
QB Kyler Murray: He officially measured in at 5”10” and 1/8 and weighed in at 207 pounds upon arriving at the combine. Teams already know that Murray can sling it, hit the jets and make people miss. Even with his formal announcement that he made last month stating that he is going to be fully committed to football going forward, teams picking near the top of the draft will want to question him on his commitment to the sports all the same.
TE Irv Smith: Iowa tight end Noah Fant is widely viewed as the most athletic player t that position in this draft and especially among the first round. However, Smith showed that he could just as much of a vertical threat and mismatch as Fant and exhibited excellent run after ability during his time at Alabama. Look for him to try to finish among the top or at the top at his position.
RB Elijah Holyfield: Georgia has been churning out game-breaking running backs at an elite pace the past couple of years with Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, and Sony Michel. All of them are starters for top or trending teams and Holyfield, the son of former boxer and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, looks to keep that tradition going by having a strong showing at the combine, getting selected in the first two rounds of the draft and becoming the primary ball carrier for the team that drafts him.
EDGE Jachai Polite: After totaling just four sacks and two forced fumbles in his first two years with the Florida Gators, Polite broke out in a big way in his junior season when he racked up 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. He also was a beast against the run as well as he amassed 19.5 tackles for loss after tallying just nine in the previous two seasons. He showed great bursts off the line and played the run well as he set the edge by being strong at the point of attack and using swift lateral quickness. Teams will be looking forward to seeing him test this weekend and could perhaps catapult himself into the top half of the first round.
DT Ed Oliver: Oliver was being discussed as possibly being taken No.1 overall coming into last season before a knee injury cost him some time in his final season at Houston and some character concerns arose. He’s currently being mocked outside the top 10 but with a good showing at the combine and in the interview process, the top five talent could work his way back into the top 10 come April.
LB Devin Bush: Many expect the Michigan linebacker to test extremely well at the combine because of the eye-popping speed and quickness that he played with during his tenure with the Wolverines. Last season his production dipped from his sophomore year, but he still displayed all of those intangibles on tape that defensive coaches covet.
QB Daniel Jones: After a good showing during his week in the Reese’s Senior Bowl practices and being named MVP of the senior All-Star team, the Duke pocket pass will look to cement his status as a mid to late round pick in the first round and possibly sneak into the top 15 or even the top 10 with another solid outing at the combine. The same could be said and expected of Missouri’s Drew Lock.
WR Parris Campbell: In a draft that is not viewed to be front-loaded at the receiver position, there will be many opportunities for teams to take quality pass catchers that could come in and contribute right away. Campbell posted 90 catches for 1,063 yards, averaging nearly 12 yards a reception and hauling 12 touchdowns in his senior season with the Buckeyes. He was Heisman finalist Dwayne Haskins’ best deep threat at Ohio State last year, but teams will want to see him catch the ball with more consistency and run a broader route tree at the combine over the weekend.
DE Rashan Gary: Despite not putting up monster numbers during his time with Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, Gary is being mocked and valued as a potential top-five pick in the upcoming draft. Teams place a high value on talented pass rushers with extremely high ceilings and position versatility. Gary personifies those two qualities arguably more than any other player in this draft even though his stats don’t necessarily reflect that. Testing well at the combine could be all that he needs to solidify his status among the elite defensive talents in this draft.
DE Oshane Ximines: He is going to be the first player from Old Dominion University to get drafted in the school’s history as the former Monarch improved in every statistical category every year that he was in the program. He could test his way into the later part of the first round with a stellar combine performance as the 6”4” 255-pound hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker could fit well and excel in any defensive scheme.
WR Hakeem Butler: Butler is viewed as a prospect that is on the fringe of first-round consideration but the big-bodied, playmaking receiver is also viewed some pundits to be a potential steal if he falls to the second round like the Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster was in the 2017 draft. JuJu went 62nd overall but outperformed all of the receivers that were selected by him as his 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns were more than the three receivers that were drafted in the top 10 of that draft combined. Butler specialized in high pointing the ball and yards after the catch during his career at Iowa State and his 40 time will be what scouts want to see most.