- At the NFL combine, players more often confirm what teams already know, instead of changing minds. Senior Bowl scouting director Jim Nagy shares his thoughts on the prospects who performed as expected.
Now that D.K. Metcalf’s combine workout has reached Sidd Finch-ian levels of hysteria, a gentle reminder to all football fans just arriving at this portion of the offseason: If your team’s opinion of Metcalf changes dramatically because of this spandex Olympiad, you’re probably not rooting for a very good football team, anyway. Teams should already know what he’s capable of before arriving in Indianapolis.
The concept of prospects rising and falling at the combine is largely overblown. Teams use the convention to compare medical information, rub elbows at local beef retailers and to ask collegiate kids about the number of testicles they currently possess.
Basically, these workouts are for coaches and general managers to get a first look at kids they haven’t been watching all year (because they’re coaching and managing a professional football team) and to confer with their scouts who have been watching them. Wow, he seems fast. What kind of grade do we have on him? Yep, OK, that checks out. Cool.
So in lieu of a typical ‘risers’ list, we’ve consulted with Senior Bowl executive director and longtime NFL scout Jim Nagy to help us put together a list of guys who did what they were supposed to this weekend. Who, when performing in front of fresh eyes for the first time, checked out. It’s the closest one can actually come to rising this time of year. Nagy’s notes are below…
• Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State (6' 6", 260 pounds, 35 3/4" arms, 4.41 40-yard dash, 21 reps on the bench press):
Doing what he did Sunday off the top of my head, that’s easy. The guy has been in the SEC for two years, double-digit sacks, runs a 4.41. I mean, where are you going to knock him?
• Khalen Saunders, defensive lineman, Western Illinois (6' 0", 324 pounds, 27 bench press reps, 5.01 40-yard dash)
Small school guy, comes down and kicks ass at the Senior Bowl all week and then goes to the combine, tests really well. He’s a nose tackle, and runs the way he runs. He almost beat (Clemson defensive tackle) Christian Wilkins, and everyone says he’s an athletic freak.
• Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn (5' 11", 196 pounds, 31 5/8" arms, 4.47 40-yard dash)
Ran a couple of high 4.4s, that’s great for teams. They’ve seen him. They came to Mobile for three practice days, seen him against really good competition, played well and then goes to the combine and shows well. It’s a little bit about the comparisons, but it’s also like, what are (small school guys like this) going to do on the big stage? Are they going to shrink? Is it too big for them. He’s proven it’s not.
• Andy Isabella, WR, University of Massachusetts (5' 9", 188 pounds, 4.31 40-yard dash, 121-inch broad jump, 4.15 20-yard shuttle).
He ran really fast. I knew he was going to run really fast.
• Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State (6' 0", 208 pounds, 4.35 40-yard dash, 125-inch broad jump):
He’s a guy who was kind of overshadowed by (fellow Ohio State wide receiver) Parris Campbell, who ran 4.31, and McLauren ran a 4.35. I think McLauren was a guy who played gunner on punt team, played special teams. He’s kind of a blue collar guy. Everyone kind of poo-poo’d him, but I think Terry showed through the process what a great athlete he is and what a great kid he is. His attitude in Mobile was unbelievable. I’d love this guy on my team. It was cool to see him go to Indianapolis and really show it. He sticks out.
• Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia (6' 0", 205, 31 1/8 arms, 44-inch vertical, 141-inch broad jump):
That vertical jump, that broad jump. I mean, he didn’t do a ton down in Mobile during the week but he shows what he’s got.
• Isaiah Johnson, DB, Houston (6' 2", 208, 4.40 40-yard dash, 4.06 20-yard shuttle):
Ran 4.40 at 6' 2" and has 33 inch arms. Gosh, I mean, when I’m a scout I’m like ‘What am I handing off to my coaching staff? What am I giving these guys to work with?’ You want to hand off a tough guy, a competitor. When they’re 6' 2", 33-inch arms who runs a 4.40 flat, you’re handing off a guy with high-end tools, too.
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Happy Tuesday. Time to kick the rest of this week in the teeth.
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