With the completion of the defensive backs workout on Tuesday, the 2011 NFL Combine has wrapped up and its time to look ahead to pro days. Here’s a look at some of the players that either helped or hurt themselves over the past few days in Indianapolis.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
No player raised more eyebrows than Jones during the combine. At 220 pounds, Jones was expected to run his 40 yard dash in the 4.45-4.5 second range. However, Jones blew away most of the receivers, running a sub-4.4 40 yard dash. Not only did Jones show speed, but he also showed lower body strength. He led all receivers with an 11’3″ broad jump, which is nine inchers further than the best jump last year (10’6″ by Emmanuel Sanders). While Jones may not have jumped A.J. Green, he showed that he is a true physical specimen, and is worthy of being selected in the top-10.
Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Heading into the combine, the main question for Ponder was if he was healthy. He was sidelined for parts of last season with an elbow injury to his throwing arm, which made him fall down some draft boards. But, Ponder proved in his workout that he is healthy, as he performed quite well in the throwing drills. While Ponder may not possess the ideal physical tools, he has superb passing mechanics and has the potential to be a solid starting quarterback.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley was highly regarded as the top defensive lineman heading into the combine. However, Dareus’ performance may have made him the top defensive lineman, possibly the top defensive player. Weighing in at 320 pounds, Dareus has the ideal weight for a nose tackle. But, his athleticism may have put him over the top. With a sub 5.0 40 yard dash, Dareus showed that he can carry his large frame quite well. After his combine performance, many analysts have stated that Dareus could be taken by Carolina with the No. 1 pick.
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Although many people disregard the numbers that players put up at the combine, Paea’s one number must receive attention. Paea was able to bench press a 225 pound bar a whopping 49 times, which is a combine record. While Paea will never have to bench press during games, he showed teams that he has superb upper body strength, which is beneficial to any defensive lineman. Expect Paea to be chosen as high as the top-20 in some of the latest mock drafts.
Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
While the Wonderlic test may be the most irrelevant number at the combine, McElroy made it somewhat important. The former Crimson Tide quarterback scored a 48 out of 50 on the standardized test that measures a player’s intelligence and quick thinking, as the test is only 12 minutes in length. While this does not translate to the football field, McElroy displayed that he is an intelligent quarterback that teams know will have to playbook learned cover to cover. While he was limited throughout the combine due to a broken hand, McElroy is certainly deserving of being selected in the draft.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
While he is not considered the top cornerback in this year’s draft, Prince Amukamara may be the best five years down the road. It was already known before the combine that Amukamara was the best shutdown corner in the country last season. But, Amukamara showed Tuesday that he also possess superb athleticism. Amukamara ran a 4.37 40 yard dash, which was faster than the majority of the defensive back group. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is likely to be taken in the top-five picks, and Amukamara could quickly follow.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
While Mallett may have been the best throwing quarterback at this year’s combine, his draft stock may have greatly dropped. During the media session, Mallett declined to comment on rumors that he is dealing with drug addictions and that he is can be a hothead at some times. The fact that there are even rumors about drug use surrounding Mallett may lead teams to look towards other quarterbacks, as no team wants their franchise quarterback to face legal and personal problems. Yes you could have replaced Mallett’s name with Ryan Leaf in this paragraph and it probably would have sounded oddly familiar.
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Fairley had a pretty solid performance at the combine, but he weighed in at 290 pounds, which could raise some eyebrows. If Fairley wants to be a starting nose tackle in the NFL, he will need to bulk up to at least 310-315 pounds. Fairley also measured in two inches shorter than his registered weight at Auburn, While 6’3″ is not that short, it may lead some scouts to question why he was listed at 6’5″.
Ahmad Black, SS, Florida
Black was considered the second best safety in this draft before the combine, behind UCLA’s Rahim Moore. But, Black ran a head-scratching 4.74 40 yard dash, which is way too slow for a safety in the NFL. Black was possibly the Gator’s best defensive player last season, and if he can drop the 40 time for his pro day, then he likely be drafted in the second or third round.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Ok, I understand that Newton blew away pretty much all of the athletic tests, but his passes were simply not on target. While Newton is in the process of improving his throwing motion, he showed during the combine that he has some trouble standing in the pocket. Newton looked way too tight when he made his throws, which may have lead to him completing just 11 of 21 throws. While Newton’s draft stock may not have dropped because of the combine, he showed scouts that he is a work in progress as a quarterback and will need some time to develop.
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin
For starters, Clay should have never left Wisconsin early to enter the NFL draft. He has dropped a significant amount of weight since the Rose Bowl, but he still ran a 4.8 40 yard dash. With that type of time, Clay will never be a starting running back in the NFL. The best solution for Clay would be to move to fullback, where he can take advantage of his power and short-yardage running skills. If Clay decides to keep working towards becoming a running back in the NFL, then he will likely go undrafted.