Mar 10, 2011
In this series of articles related to the 2011 NFL Draft, we’ll take a look at the effects that the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine had–either positively or negatively–on well-known and lesser known draft prospects on both sides of the ball. These players demonstrated that they have the skills needed to potentially make an impact at the professional level. To be clear, the results of Combine tests and drills only go so far in determining future success. All we have to do is look at the professional careers of former top-five picks like Vince Young, JaMarcus Russell, Courtney Brown and Alex Smith to see that there’s no guarantee of future success. All these guys displayed drool-inducing abilities at the Scouting Combine, only to achieve very limited success or rather differing degrees of failure in their respective NFL careers. So while running the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds or recording a 44-inch vertical leap undoubtedly indicates the type of athleticism that would play well at the next level, the Combine is only the beginning. This article discusses the offensive prospects whose stock is on the decline after less than expected or poor showings at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers
As expected, Newton lived up to his reputation as the most natural and athletically gifted quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft class with a dominate performance during the Combine’s physical tests. The 6’5”, 248-pound Newton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, delivered a vertical leap of 35 inches and his incredible 10-foot, 6-inch broad jump tied for tops among quarterbacks. However his throwing skills during the quarterback workout fell seriously short of what he’d hope to accomplish at the Combine. Newton’s throwing; mechanics and lack of refinement as a passer have been at the receiving end of criticism throughout his college career. It’s led many to speculate about whether Newton will be the next early-round quarterback who’ll become an NFL bust. During the Combine quarterback drills, Newton showed the cannon arm that many scouts look for in young quarterbacks. Unfortunately, he was all over the place with his passes, overthrowing on many go route and deep out patterns. He even had too much air in the intermediate route passes that he completed. In a post-Combine interview with the NFL Network, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner acknowledged that he struggled in the positional drills and said that he “underestimated the timing aspect of playing quarterback.” Moreover, he seemed to suggest that receivers from some of the smaller schools were to blame. Finally, while Newton was given props for the way he handled in his Media Day press conference, there were wide-ranging reports from the Combine that indicated his one-on-one interviews with various NFL teams were far less successful. He’ll have the chance to redeem himself on the field at least during Auburn’s Pro Day on March 8. If he performs well during that workout, then what happens next in terms of where he’s ultimately drafted will have much more to do with how he interviews and what teams find out as they assess his character, mental acumen, maturity and other so-called intangibles.
Newton’s NFL Comparison: Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU Horn Frogs
During pre-Combine buzz about Dalton, some commentators compared the two-time Mountain West Conference Player of the Year to Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Kevin Kolb. Dalton had a great collegiate career, throwing for 10,314 yards, 71 touchdowns and 30 interceptions (11 in his freshman season). He also played in four Bowl games, going 3-1. Unfortunately, the former Horn Frog delivered such a flat and uninspired performance at the Scouting Combine that he most likely killed his chances of being selected on the Day 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft. To some, Dalton is slightly undersized at 6’2” and 215 pounds. He’s also your classic pocket passer, which isn’t exactly the ideal profile of a quarterback in today’s NFL. His lack of agility was front-and-center at the Combine when he turned in a 40-time of 4.87 seconds and a position-worst broad jump of 8 feet, 10 inches. , Dalton was sloppy during passing drills, misfiring on even the most routine of sideline out routes. He looked a step below the rest of the field at the Combine. He’ll have to show significant improvement during TCU’s Pro Day if he wants to keep the comparisons to Kolb, not to mention hopes of an early round selection alive.
Dalton’s NFL Comparison: Trent Edwards, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State Beavers
Some experts pegged “Quizz” as a potential Round 2 selection after the diminutive running back decided to forgo his senior season at Oregon State and come out for the 2011 NFL Draft. He ended his college career as the school’s second all-time leading rusher with 3,877 yards (sixth in Pac-10 Conference history). Many expected his performance at the Combine to demonstrate the speed and burst that helped him put up “video game” numbers at Oregon. Yet the 5’5” 196-pound Rodgers had a disappointing 40-yard dash time of 4.64 seconds, a full two-tenths of a second slower than expected. In fact, his Combine time was even slower than a handful of defensive linemen. Ouch. It got worse. Rodger’s managed a vertical leap of 33 inches, which to many indicated a lack of lower leg burst, F By comparison, Jacksonville Jaquars’ star Maurice Jones-Drew, a similarly-sized second-round steal in the 2006 NFL Draft, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds and posted a 36-inch vertical leap. Despite his poor showing at the Combine, Rodgers has the potential to be one of the better third-down backs in the league. Although he chances of being a second-round pick are somewhere between slim and none, Rodgers is more likely to hear his name during the fourth or fifth round.
Rodgers’ NFL Comparison: Garrett Wolfe, Chicago Bears
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin Badgers
When the former Badger announced his decision to forgo his final season of eligibility in favor of the 2011 NFL Draft, he cited his age (23) and the relatively short careers of most running backs at the professional level as the primary reasons. Clay had a fine career at Wisconsin, rushing for over 3,400 yards and scoring 41 touchdowns since 2008. He also had 18 games of 100-plus rushing yards. Although Clay wasn’t considered one of the elite runners in the current Draft class, he was a top-15 prospect heading into the Combine. He showed up for the event 30 pounds lighter and intent on proving the critics wrong. Instead he went on to have such a dismal Combine that he all but sealed his fate of being a late-round draft selection at best. Clay is one of the bigger running backs in this 2011 Draft class, however there’s concern that he lacks the necessary explosiveness to be a success in the NFL. Clay has another chance to redeem himself at Wisconsin’s Pro Day on March 9.
Clay’s NFL Comparison: Correll Buckhalter, Denver Broncos
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State Aztecs
Just a month after Brown drew rave reviews for his efforts during the Senior Bowl, the wide receiver turned in a Combine performance so lousy that it might cost him millions. Talent evaluators believe that Brown will most likely be a possession receiver in the NFL, so while a blazing time in the 40-yard dash isn’t a necessity, the former Aztec’s time of 4.71 seconds fell way short of expectations. To begin with, Brown measured in at 5’11” and 184 pounds – that’s two inches shorter and 11 pounds under his college vitals. . There is no denying that Brown is a solid route runner with plus hands, however it’s important to remember that the gaudy statistics he posted in college (114 receptions, 2,130 yards and 16 touchdowns are going to be much harder to come by at the next level of competition. If Brown hopes to recapture some of the momentum he lost in the Combine, then he’ll have to do whatever it takes to significantly improve on his 40-yard dash time during San Diego State’s Pro Day on March 17.
Brown’s NFL Comparison: Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Heading into the Combine, the former Fighting Irish tight end was considered one of the top two or three tight ends in the 2011 NFL Draft class. Rudolph measured in at a strapping 6’6” and 259 pounds; however a lingering hamstring injury prevented him from participating in any drills. He missed the final seven games of his junior season at Notre Dame due to a separated muscle in his right hamstring. The severity of his injury and the fact that he’s clearly not at 100 percent makes Rudolph’s decision to come out early all the more puzzling. There’s a good chance that if he returned to school, Rudolph might have been fully recovered at the start of his senior season. Moreover, had he stayed healthy, Rudolph would likely go into the 2012 Draft as the consensus top tight end. Rudolph claims that he’ll be healthy enough to work out fully in front of scouts at Notre Dame’s Pro Day on April 7. . His future is depending on it.
Rudolph’s NFL Comparison: Kevin Boss, New York Giants
Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh Panthers
Widely viewed as an early Round 2 pick in pre-Combine reports, Pinkston damaged his stock with a difficult few days at the event. First, the former Panther measured in a 6’3” and 317 pounds, a bit shorter than his senior season listed height. He then proceeded to perform well below-average at his position in a number of drills. Pinkston ran the 40-yard dash in a ho-hum 5.47 seconds, the 20-yard shuttle in 4.91 seconds and completed the three-cone drill in 7.88 seconds. He then delivered a broad jump of 8 feet, 2 inches. The subpar numbers seem to indicate that the knee and shoulder ailments that plagued Pinkston in college remain an issue. Whatever the cause, Pinkston’s stock has definitely taken a nosedive.
Pinkston’s NFL Comparison: Duane Brown, Houston Texans
DeMarcus Love, OG/OT, Arkansas Razorbacks:
Love certainly looks the part of a future NFL lineman. He measured in at 6’4 3/8” and 315 pounds, however appearances can be deceiving. Love’s performance at the Combine performance was downright disappointing. He posted below-average times in the 40-yard dash (5.31 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (5.84 seconds). Although Love has what it takes to be a mauling run-blocker in terms of size, he tends to struggle in pass-protection, particularly against speed-rushers. Love’s lack of ideal quickness was also on display during positional drills, where he looked a step slower than the competition. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to speculate that Love’s position as a likely second-round pick is a thing of the past.
Love’s NFL Comparison: James Lee, Tampa Bay Buccaneers