Monday, February 28, 2011

NFL Combine Stock Watch: Offensive Players

I watched a considerable amount of the NFL Combine Coverage over the weekend, some might say too much, but here is the NFL Combine "Stock Watch". Rather than give a synopsis of every player, I'll break down each position and give a Stock Up, Stock Down, and Neutral for each position.


Stock Up: Christian Ponder, Florida State. Ponder weighed in at 6'2" 229lbs, bigger than most expected, ran a 4.65 40 and had bigger hands than expected, coming in at 10 1/4 inches (second only to Ryan Mallett, who is 6'7"). Ponder built on his MVP Senior Bowl performance throwing very well, and even hit on some of the deeper throws, not his strong suit at Florida State. The key for Ponder will be his medical checks as he's suffered a separated shoulder on his throwing arm, and an elbow injury that required two in-season surgeries as a senior. Outlook: 3rd Round Prospect

Stock Down: Cam Newton, Auburn. The hype train has returned to the station. Newton measured in just fine at 6'5" 248lbs and turned in some eye-popping numbers with a 4.59 40 and a 10'6" broad jump. He clearly handled the media well and "Team Newton" (i.e. Cecil Newton) played a big part in that. However, he completed just 11 of 21 throws and look pretty bad throwing outs and deep balls. Playing in Gus Malzahn's offense at Auburn clearly won't help him, as pretty much every call comes in from the sideline as opposed to Newton reading the defense and making sight adjustments. There were also several rumors that his passing offense was dumbed-down to 1 or 2 reads and run. Outlook: 1st Round Prospect, with a huge "Buyer Beware" label.

Neutral: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri. Do you think he wishes he would've worked out? I think Gabbert will put on a show at his pro day and in private team workouts and will ultimately be the first QB selected unless Buffalo or Cincinnati pull some shenanigans with the Newton Hype Train. Gabbert also comes from the spread offense, but he's athletic, can run, and measured in well at 6'4" 234lbs. Outlook: 1st round prospect


Stock Up: Mario Fannin, Auburn. An afterthought in the Auburn offense in 2010 with the emergence of Cam Newton, Michael Dyer, and Onterio McCalebb, and Ben Tate the year before, Fanning got lost in the shuffle. Fannin checked in at 5'10" 231lbs and blazes a 4.38 40 and looked good in just about every drill. While he's got good long speed, he wasn't as explosive in a short area as Mark Ingram and Kendall Hunter were, but he definitely raised his stock. Outlook: Mid Round Prospect

Stock Down: Ryan Williams Virginia Tech. The former Hokie had an outstanding 2009 season at VPI, rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 TDs. Injuries and a rotation limited Williams to just 10 games and 110 carries (down from 293) in 2010. Williams, known as a speed back clocked in a 4.61 40 and had only 9 inch hands. He didn't look all that explosive in the drills. He did weigh in at 5'9" and 212lbs, but I don't think he'll sniff the 1st round any more. Outlook: 2nd or 3rd Round Prospect

Neutral: Mark Ingram, Alabama. Despite a pedestrian 4.62 official 40, Ingram did nothing to dispel the notion he'll be the first RB taken in the 2011 draft. His short area burst was fantastic as he notched a 1.53 10 yard split (better than the top 3 splits from the best 40's from this year) and his agility is only rivaled by Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State. At 5'9" 215lbs, the comparisons to Emmitt Smith won't stop. Outlook: 1st Round Prospect


Stock Up: Julio Jones, Alabama. The offensive start of the combine. Julio measured in at 6'3" 220lbs and clocked a 4.39 40. The best blocking receiver in the draft already, Jones displayed excellent hands in the vaunted "gauntlet" drill and notched a 38 vertical. He definitely closed the gap with A.J. Green for top WR, and might have even worked his way into the top 10. Outlook: Top 15 Prospect

*Edit* Charley Casserly of NFL Network also just reported that Julio Jones participated in the Combine with a broken foot and will need screws inserted before the season. This is very similar to the injury that Michael Crabtree suffered, which makes his performance all the more impressive. This injury shouldn't reflect upon Julio's draft status much as he's shown the ability to play through and recover swiftly from injuries throughout his tenure with the Crimson Tide.

Stock Down: DeAndre Brown, Southern Mississippi. Brown, a big, rangy prospect at 6'5" 233lbs was a guy I had my eye on as a mid round prospect in the Plaxico Burress mold. Brown was slow in the 40 at 4.59, but looked slow in everything else. He had a very awkward gate and running motion in the tracking drill and didn't haul in any passes. Outlook: 6th Round Prospect

Neutral: Jerrel Jernigan, Troy. Jernigan, a do-everything prospect that's played QB, RB, and WR, as well as returning kicks and punts at Troy had a school listed 40 time of 4.35, but managed only a 4.46. He definitely looked more quick than fast, but displayed good hands and outstanding agility and should still be a 2nd or 3rd round prospect. I'm very interested to see which one between he and Boise State's Titus Young goes off the board first.

Tight Ends

Stock Up: Virgil Green, Nevada. Coming from a spread, pass-happy offense at Nevada, there weren't really questions over Green's receiving abilities. He's a willing, adequate blocker in the mold of the Jets Dustin Keller, but Green may be more explosive. He broke Vernon Davis' vertical jump record turning in a 42.5" vertical, a 4.54 40, and looked the part at 6'3" 249lbs with 33.5" arms and a decent 23 reps on the bench. Outlook: 3rd Round Prospect

Stock Down: Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin. Kendricks is a better blocker than Green, playing at Wisconsin will do that. He's a solid receiving threat as well. He's more down because of Green's performance than his own. Kendricks looked okay during the drills, nothing outstanding, and Kendricks came in at only 6'2" and 243. He should still be a solid H-Back type prospect though. Outlook: 3rd Round Prospect

Neutral: Schuylar Oordt, Northern Iowa. Oordt, an under-the-radar prospect came in and did alright competing with the big guys. He's a big man himself at 6'5" 261lbs and running a 4.67 40. His 18 bench reps were disappointing, but he looked to be a more fluid athlete than I initially thought. Outlook: Mid-Round Prospect

Offensive Lineman - Includes Tackles, Guards, and Centers

Stock Up: Jah Reid, Central Florida - OT. I've got to give kudos out to a poster on a site I frequent, CK, for first mentioning Reid at the East-West Shrine Bowl. (You can check out CK's weekly draft column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel every Tuesday. It's Miami Dolphin oriented, but his article on Cam Newton made it to CNBC, and his stuff is outstanding). Reid's stock is absolutely on fire coming in at 6'7" 327lbs (way down from his in-season weight) and looked silky smooth in every drill. Slow 40 aside, this guy made some serious cheddar this weekend, compared to where he would've been. Outlook: 4th Round Prospect

Stock Down: Jason Kelce, Cincinnati - OC. The "smallest" of the OL at the combine at just 280lbs. Kelce, who I once considered a mid-round prospect, probably won't be drafted as he was unable to put on weight. He might excel in a system like Indianapolis who tabbed his former UC teammate Jeff Linkenbach, but Kelce looked like a boy amongst men. He's a fluid athlete, but just doesn't have the look of an OL at 6'2" 280lbs (there are bigger TE's out there than that. Outlook: Undrafted

Neutral: Mike Pouncey, Florida - OG. While not the elite prospect as his twin brother Maurkice was a year ago, Mike is a fine prospect in his own right. I thought he might dominate the combine and rise quite a bit, but he opted not to participate in some of the exercises, choosing to wait for his Pro Day. At 6'5" 305lbs, he certainly has the look of a pulling guard and did well in the mirror and slide drill. His 32" arms might cause some teams to shy away, but all things considered, he should still be the first interior lineman taken. Outlook: 2nd Round Prospect

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