Everybody's heard the saying "What goes up, must come down". Well, that's kinda true for the NFL Draft as well. Right, wrong, or indifferent, every year there are prospects that help or hurt their draft stock based on their workout at the Scouting Combine.
And this year is no different.
Personally, I always prefer to get the bad news over with first, so we'll take a look at some of the offensive linemen and tight ends who's workouts either hurt their draft stock or are forcing scouts to go back and take another look at their game tape. After that, we'll get optimistic and look at the guys who might have made themselves some money.
Ereck Flowers (OT, Miami) - Flowers has been counted by some as a potential pick for the Giants at ninth overall. At the Combine, Flowers looked good in some drills, particularly when allowed to show off his power. He did, however, struggle visibly in the drills designed to test prospects' movement skills and expose weaknesses. In particular the kick-slide drill, viewed as essential to determining a prospects fit as an offensive tackle.
Flowers' performance in these drills caused some to wonder in our open thread if he was hiding or playing through an injury. It's worth noting that Flowers missed time this season to a knee injury. It was described as an old injury that "flared up" [More Info]. That should be enough to cause teams to go over Flowers' tape and medical reports with a fine-toothed comb.
Brandon Scherff (OG, Iowa) - I hesitated a bit before lumping Scherff in with the fallers, but I've got a reason. First, as a prospect who is projected to switch positions at the next level, you want to see him in drills and see where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and how they compare to players who already play that position. Changing position always ups the risk with a prospect. Not being able to get as much information as possible, only serves to cloud projections. Secondly, Scherff has a history of leg injuries, and having to sit out the on-field portion of the combine with a hamstring injury is concerning.
Andrus Peat (OT, Stanford) - Peat came into the Combine as one of the, if not the, top offensive tackle prospects. That might take a hit after today. He did well on some drills, but struggled in others. Much like his game tape, he was very inconsistent. Former Giant Shaun O'Hara put it best when he commented that it appeared as though none of these drills came easily to Peat, and that everything took all of his ability to accomplish. You tend to want your top offensive tackles to be smooth, consistent, and make everything look as effortless as possible.
Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota) - Williams came into the Combine as the top tight end, and he probably still is. That being said, if he was hoping to show off athleticism to vault up into the first round, he failed to do that. Williams is a natural hands catcher and a competent blocker, but didn't show off the kind of wheels to truly threaten defenses, or the kind of power to generate movement in the run game. He isn't so far ahead of the rest of the tight ends as he might have hoped. -- He does have a killer tat, though.
Ali Marpet (OG, Hobart) - I don't think any prospect has helped himself as much thus far in 2015 as Hobart's Ali Marpet. Before the Senior Bowl he was a guy only regional scouts knew about. Then he showed he belonged against some of the nation's best D-1 seniors. Now at the Combine he is showing off strength and athleticism that rivals a lot of guys projected to be drafted in the first two rounds of the draft. Not only did he lay down the fastest 40-yard dash among offensive linemen, but he backed that up with strong showings in all the on-field drills. He will likely be a guard at the next level, but his movement skills look crisp and efficient.
Laken Tomlinson (OG, Duke) - Tomlinson continues to check off boxes -- as Mike Mayock is wont to say -- with a strong showing at the combine. He isn't particularly fleet of foot, but he showed off the same power he did at Duke, as well as some surprisingly good movement skills. He was crisp and under control in every drill, excellent for a 320-pound guard with a reputation for sluggish feet.
Sean Hickey (OG, Syracuse) - Hickey was Justin Pugh's teammate, and replaced him at left tackle when Pugh was drafted by the Giants. Now Hickey is raising eyebrows at the combine. He first showed off by grinding out a strong 35 reps on the bench press. Though he didn't run the 40, he showed off some good feet in the on-field drills. His movement skills aren't good enough to stay at left tackle, and likely not more than a back-up at right tackle. However, while his hips are tight for tackle, his footwork is plenty good for an interior spot. Hickey could even earn a starting job inside, and -- to my eye -- looks better there than Pugh, thanks to the power to stand up to bigger defenders and generate movement in the run game.
D.J. Humphries (OT, Florida) - The tackle from Florida is helping himself almost as much as Marpet. First, he showed up to the Combine well over 300 pounds after playing at 285 last year. Despite the weight gain he maintained his athleticism and superb feet. He routinely looked smooth in drills, with fluid movements and quick type-writer steps.
Jake Fisher (OT, Oregon) - Easily the most athletic tackle at the Combine, Fisher made a strong case that he could potentially be a left tackle at the next level. But he showed that he should excel as a "new breed" right tackle, in a league where the top sack artists are primarily pitted against right tackles. Fisher was the pace setter in nearly all of the Group 1 drills, and his performance should certainly raise some eyebrows.
Jesse James (TE, Penn Statet) - James made up ground on Williams at the Combine. His size alone was going to get him drafted, but he showed off solid athleticism to go with it. If scouts were concerned about his occasional concentration drops, he also showed solid hands in the on-field drills.
Cameron Clear (TE, TAMU) - Clear was very rarely used as a weapon in Texas A&M's offense, but he showed up at the Combine. His route running appeared crisp and his hands looked natural, especially for a blocking tight end. Clear has excellent size and could be a surprise mid-round pick.