I have never been one to place too much importance on the work outs and exercises performed at the Combine, instead choosing to look at each player's performance on the field as a better indicator of that player's future potential, but a player's performance at the Combine has nonetheless proven to have a fairly significant impact on players' draft stocks. Each day throughout the NFL Scouting Combine (February 24 to March 1) I'll be breaking down the day's risers and fallers. Enjoy.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami Hurricanes: Demonstrating good speed was something he had to do on Sunday. He did just that, running a 4.43 40, which turned out to tie for the 10th best time in Indy and the fourth best among receivers. He shows good hands on the field after questions arose earlier in his career, but some weren't sure of his speed because he wasn't that deep burner at Miami. Questions, answered.
Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian:: Gates posted great numbers all around on Sunday. He ran a 4.37 40, a 40.0" vertical jump and a 10'11" broad jump. He caught the ball well, too. He won't sneak into the first round, but he got some teams to take notice and you can bet on teams going back to take a closer look at Gates. NFL Scout Jayson Braddock noted that we should not be too quick to fall in love with Gates, however, as his speed running routes that require him to make cuts is much slower.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland Terrapins: Considered a fringe first rounder, Smith helped his stock by running a 4.37 40, posting a 41-inch vertical jump and 10'6" broad jump. Shows speed as well as explosiveness.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide: Guys like Jones, who are considered one of the top players at their position, usually won't see a massive rise or fall based on their Combine performance, but Jones looked so good that some have actually said he could jump A.J. Green as the top receiver in the class. I don't buy that, but his superb athleticism could help push him into the top ten, possibly as high as #6 to the Browns who could use some offense.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas Razorbacks: Mallett did himself no favors by taking a defensive stance when reporters prodded him about alleged drug use, but when I went back and watched the interview, he did not storm off the podium the way that many had written. He threw the ball very well to stem his slide down draft boards, and perhaps even make up a little ground.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington Huskies: Ran well and made some nice throws in position drills. I don't think he'll crack the top half of the first round, but he could work his way into the bottom of the first if he continues to perform well. His hometown Seattle Seahawks have been a popular destination for him with the 25th selection.
Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State Seminoles: Ponder faces questions about injuries and durability, but he is one of the few top quarterbacks experienced as a drop back passer. Questions remain about his arm strength, but he followed up a very good Senior Bowl with a quality performance at the Combine.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada Wolf Pack: His throws were pretty and his athleticism was no surprise. His ability inside of the pocket is what teams most want to see out of Kaepernick, who comes from a Nevada team that played out of the pistol formation. His performance in Indy demonstrates not only his athleticism, but his ability to throw the football, which will help his stock in war rooms. Overall, threw the ball as well as anybody out there and better than most, even if he wasn't given the air time that Cam Newton, Mallett or Locker were given by commentators and analysts.
Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh Panthers: I loved Lewis after the 2009 season (who didn't?), but expected him to come back for another year after a disappointing 2010 season. He instead opted to enter the draft where he is probably a third day pick. I would have liked to see him show up in Indy with closer to 200 pounds on his 5'6/5'7 frame, but he did look very fluid in position drills. He could be a steal on the third day.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma Sooners: Murray ran well at the Combine, posting an official 40 time of 4.41 and looked good in position drills. With a great deal of ambiguity as to the best running backs behind Mark Ingram and perhaps Mikel Leshoure, he could work his way into the top five running back prospects by the time the draft rolls around.
Roy Helu, Jr., RB, Nebraska Cornhuskers: Helu ran very well at the Combine, posting a speedy 4.42 40 time. He could fall into the lower rounds and end up a great steal for a team that needs a running back who can take it to the house when he touches the ball. Very productive at Nebraska.
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State Beavers:: Paea set a new Combine record with 49 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. He won't make any noise playing on his back in the NFL, but the show of strength was nonetheless impressive and was a good start to his workouts in Indy.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers: I don't care that he referred to himself as an entertainer or an icon, which he cleared up by pointing out that the question to which he was responding dealt with endorsements and that he regretted the word choice, but Newton did not look very consistent throwing the football. He looked great in the workout drills, but he would have helped himself much more if he threw with greater accuracy. He is still learning to drop back and is learning to fine-tune his mechanics, so as he gets more reps and practice he should start to show improvement.
Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa Hawkeyes: NFL Scout and Xtra Point Football's Jayson Braddock said it best when he told me that Stanzi looked "like he couldn't hit a barn" on Sunday. Known for his football IQ and his accuracy during games, it's hard to predict how much of an impact Stanzi's performance at the Combine will have on his stock, but it didn’t help him.
Graig Cooper, RB, Miami Hurricanes: Cooper's career took a serious turn when he tore an ACL on an awful, muddy field at the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando. He never really got all the way back since the injury and shared time in a busy backfield rotation, but a nice showing at the Combine could have helped his stock. He ran a 4.63 40 on Sunday, which could hurt his stock as a change of pace back who can contribute as a homerun threat or a returner.
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin Badgers: Slow at 4.77 in the 40 even after dropping some weight, Clay did not look fluid at all in position drills.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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