Here’s a few of the Winners from the 10 player list…
QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State — Before his combine performance, Cousins was relegated to the third division of this year’s quarterback class — the vat of players below the dynamic duo of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and the second-tier Ryan Tannehill, whose foot injury gave him a pass on throwing. Cousins was often dinged for poor decisions during his collegiate career, but he made a great choice to work with Chris Weinke at IMG pre-draft. Cousins was a standout at the Senior Bowl, and his performance during Sunday’s QB/WR drills was extremely impressive. He zipped the ball on every throw to every route, showed a new economy of motion, and will leave Indianapolis with a lot of buzz. If he repeats it at his Pro Day, Cousins could be a solid second-round pick.
OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia — Irvin didn’t graduate from high school — he got his GED after spending some time in juvenile jail, and has spent the years since focused on being a great football player. He certainly impressed at the combine, running 4.5-ish times on both of his 40s at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. Add in his agility and intriguing potential, not to mention his willingness to be upfront about his past, and you have a player with a good chance to rise up the boards. “They’ve heard the stories, read the articles,” Irvin said at the combine. “They’re questioning me, which I don’t blame. They kind of want to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama — Off-field issues have plagued Jenkins and got him booted out of the University of Florida, but his pure football talent has never been in question. He was perhaps the most impressive defensive back on the field at Lucas Oil — smooth in the drills, and his upper body barely moved as he ran sub-4.5 times in the 40-yard dash. The potential is limitless if Jenkins can clean things up, and you can bet that his combine will have a lot of teams rushing back to the game tape to try and talk themselves into the risk.
All three of these players could be wearing a Cowboys uniform next season. Of the three I would take Bruce Irvin with the second rounder. He’s a kid who could add weight and turn into a great pass rusher off the edge.
And now we go to some of the Losers…
WR Kendall Wright, Baylor — Robert Griffin III’s favorite target, Wright was expected to come to the combine and show off his potential as a speed slot receiver in the Victor Cruz/DeSean Jackson mold. But he looked chunky, didn’t run very well (an official 4.61 40), and really struggled with speed cuts in drills.
DT Michael Brockers, LSU — The top-ranked defensive tackle on most boards, Brockers has been seen as a near-sure thing (or, as close as one player can be in this process). His long arms, so often an asset on the field, worked against him when he could only put up 19 reps in the bench press. Brockers ran an alarmingly slow 5.36 40 and finished very low in other drills — 26.5 inches in the vertical jump, and 4.81 seconds in the short shuttle. “I’m blessed to have this frame and still be quick with it,” Brockers said during his media session. “I feel like at 322 [pounds], I can move a lot better than some other guys can move. So I feel like that’s my biggest strength. How big I am and how quick I am.” That may be true on tape, but Brockers didn’t do himself any favors in Indy.
OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama — Upshaw has been projected by most NFL teams as a possible 3-4 outside linebacker, and with his pass rush ability (not to mention the versatility with which Alabama defenders are expected to play), it was thought that he could match Melvin Ingram’s success in combine drills. But he didn’t seem especially quick around the edge, appeared to be a bit one-dimensional, struggled in coverage drills, and didn’t flash elite athleticism. Those watching Upshaw on tape will likely move past those issues because he does have great fundamentals, but Upshaw could have come out of the combine with a lot more buzz.
CB Cliff Harris, Oregon — As it was with Burfict, Harris was unable to transcend a litany of concerns with a great combine performance. The multiple suspensions and eventual dismissal from Oregon were bad enough, but when Harris couldn’t even break 4.6 and looked logey in position drills, he might as well have put “Buyer Beware” on the back of his jersey.
CB Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina — Norman still has the tape of the East-West Shrine Game to buttress his stock — he was one of the true standouts in the contest — but the official 4.66 40 he ran at the combine will have some wondering about his applicable speed at the next level. Primarily a press corner, Norman may struggle to keep pace with the NFL’s faster pass-catchers.
Pretty sure Courtney Upshaw hurt his chances of becoming a Dallas Cowboy this weekend. He showed no ‘explosion’ in drills. I love his smart play and toughness, but it may not be enough at the next level. You must be able to get around some Tackles at times. You can’t always rely on power moves as a pass rusher. Just didn’t show enough ‘wow factor’ to be chosen at #14 in the NFL draft.
All of these guys need to do better at their Pro Days.