The 2013 NFL Combine is over and thus ends the Conference Championship week for draft dweebs such as myself (the Super Bowl being the actual draft).
You'll hear a lot of talk about combine risers and fallers during this period, but that is generally very misleading. What it means is that the media has become more accurately aware of how talented or coveted a player is throughout the league. Though it is true in some cases because there are players who answer questions about their athleticism that makes evaluators more confident in the tape they put forth the past few seasons. The saying goes, fast guys run fast, slow guys run slow at the combine.Everyone knew Ezekiel 'Ziggy' Ansah was an athletic freak, that is no surprise. He is not a combine riser, neither is Margus Hunt or Barkevious Mingo. It's a player like Xavier Rhodes who has questions about his speed, and then answers them, that are the true combine risers.
The interviews and medical checks are also very important at the combine. Where the drills matter most though are for players who are from lower-level schools. With all that being said here are some concluding thoughts about the combine and the draft.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Austin was a dynamic play-maker in 2012, perhaps the best in all of college football. He was a threat in a number of different roles (running back, wide receiver, return man) and has been drawing comparisons to Minnesota Vikings' Percy Harvin much of the college football season. The problem with Austin is that he is small (he measured in at 5-foot-8, 174 pounds), but he looked so athletic in the drills that he's likely going to convince some team to take him in the first round despite his size.
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
Armstead ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash an offensive linemen has ever run at the combine (4.74) at 306 pounds. He also measured in at 6-5 and had 34-inch arms. These are all great numbers. In a draft that has some very athletic and talented offensive linemen, Armstead looked like the most athletic player (he also had a 34.5-inch vertical jump) and put himself on the map. The combine is going to force scouts, coaches, and general managers to go and get Armstead's tape if they haven't spent time looking at it already.
David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
Amerson was listed at 6-3 during his time at North Carolina State, but measured in at only 6-1 at the weigh-ins. After a terrific 2011 season in which Amerson intercepted a whopping 13 passes (this is not at University of Albany this is at North Carolina State), he struggled greatly in 2012, getting beat deep far too often (though he still intercepted five passes). Questions begin to rise about his speed and athleticism, but at the combine he flashed dynamic speed with an unofficial 4.34 40-yard dash (officially 4.44), which will erase questions about his athleticism. He has height, length, terrific ball skills, and speed. There are rumors swirling around now that he played very banged up in 2012 which was the cause of his struggles and Amerson has a good shot at being a first-round pick if those rumors are substantiated by NFL teams.
Tyler Eifert, TE Norte Dame
This tight end class was considered to be pretty deep, but there were questions about who the number one tight end would be. I think Eifert answered that and then some. He was the most impressive tight end at the combine (Arkansas' Chris Gragg put on a show, but he doesn't have the same size or production). Eifert looked smooth in drills and more athletic than people thought he might be. He's likely the first tight end off the board.
Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracus
Thomas put on a show at the combine. Thomas has a touching story. He lost both his mother and father in 2010 and became head of the household to his six younger siblings, but resisted the temptation of entering the draft after the 2011 season, waiting until now. I can't imagine this story hurting him any in the eyes of coaches and general managers. He measured in at 5-9, 213 pounds, put up 28 reps on the bench press, ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, had a 40.5-inch vertical and broad jumped 133 inches.
National Football Post highlighted a number of players who impressed during interviews (click on link above), among them that caught my interest.
D.J. Fluker: "He has a big personality one personnel director said. You could tell football is really important to him."
And Manti Te'o.
My New York Giants Targets
Two of my three favorite Giants targets really did well at the combine and now it's very likely that neither will be available when the Giants pick at 19th overall. Those players are cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State and Florida Gators' tackle Shariff Floyd. My third favorite target, Alec Ogletree, recently had a DUI which just adds to a list of other problems he's had off the field (theft, drug suspension, and now DUI). I'm not sure the Giants have a chance to draft the first two and the third one might or might not be on their board depending on their own background information. I'll have to think about my new favorite target for the Giants over the next month.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A & M
Moore might be the biggest loser at the combine. There have been questions circulating about Moore's true athleticism (Bjeorn Werner also faced the same questions), and he did nothing to dispel questions about his athleticism. Moore ran a 4.94 40-yard dash (which is not good), and only had 12 bench press reps (which is also not good at for a guy who wants to be an NFL defensive linemen). There is also talk (unsubstantiated from my own perspective) about Moore having less than impressive interviews. Moore can play football, but now teams will wonder whether he is Terrell Suggs, who also had modest testing numbers but became a great player in the NFL or a guy who is a try-hard type who will never be special. I thought he'd be a top 10 pick (and still think he's worth it), but I wouldn't completely rule him out for the Giants.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Banks, like Rhodes, had questions about his straight line speed, but unlike Rhodes he wasn't able to disprove them. Banks is a good football player (and reportedly had good combine interviews), but the lack of speed was confirmed at the combine and he is likely a late round one to end of round two draft pick as opposed to a mid-to-late first-round pick.
Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State
The 40-yard dash can certainly be over-rated, but when a player is listed at 5-6 and a 190 pounds he has to run better than a 4.80 40. Rouse was not a top performer in any of the seven drills he competed in. Yikes. He's 5-6, he's not Brandon Jacobs. What is he, a power back? Change of pace back? Undrafted, likely.
There are a whole slew of other guys who stood out positively and negatively, but those are the ones I'm going to touch on now (you can also go through the archives to read the reviews of the combine posted over the weekend).