The big event of the month begins tomorrow. The 2012 NFL Combine will kick off and will run through the 28th. There are three very important parts of the combine - the weigh in, the drills and the interview process. The combine provides us with true height and weight measurements. Schools tend to alter the height and weight numbers in their favor so the combine is great for getting a prospects true size. The weigh in process at the beginning of the combine can be the most boring part of the event, but it is still an important part of the process that every NFL team will pay attention close attention to.
For the past few months, we have debated the Cowboys draft needs. Cornerback, safety, pass rusher, defensive line and offensive line look like our most pressing needs. With all of those needs on our minds, we should then shift our focus to certain areas during the combine.
Below is my latest Top 50 Big Board and break-downs by position group. After that, we'll take a look at how some of the drills relate to specific positions.
Make the jump...
This is the third update of the big board, which includes my fifty best draft prospects. I included changes due to some of the prospect's performances at the Senior Bowl and my ongoing draft research. Take a look over my updated rankings and comment on them below. I love getting feedback from the BTB community and I value everyone's opinion. I expect to alter my board after the 2012 NFL Combine. The combine will give me a better feel for a prospects athleticism. I prefer to grade prospects on game tape, but the combine is another important tool in the grading process.
The Top 50
|2||2||*Robert Griffin III||QB||Baylor|
|3||3||*Justin Blackmon||WR||Oklahoma State|
|8||10||Melvin Ingram||DE||South Carolina|
|9||25||Quinton Coples||DE||North Carolina|
|13||13||*Luke Kuechly||LB||Boston College|
|14||15||Janoris Jenkins||CB||North Alabama|
|18||23||Michael Floyd||WR||Notre Dame|
|20||26||Devon Still||DT||Penn State|
|21||46||Mike Adams||OT||Ohio State|
|28||20||*Alshon Jeffery||WR||South Carolina|
|31||22||*Stephon Gilmore||CB||South Carolina|
|33||29||Kelechi Osemele||OG||Iowa State|
|41||33||Zach Brown||LB||North Carolina|
|42||38||*Fletcher Cox||DT||Mississippi State|
|46||39||David Wilson||RB||Virginia Tech|
|47||43||*Jerel Worthy||DT||Michigan State|
|48||NR||Ryan Tannehill||QB||Texas A&M|
|49||50||*Vontaze Burfict||LB||Arizona State|
|- -||28||Alfonzo Dennard||CB||Nebraska|
|- -||30||Bruce Irvin||LB||West Virginia|
|- -||41||*Ronnell Lewis||LB||Oklahoma|
|- -||42||*Jayron Hosley||CB||Virginia Tech|
|- -||47||Markelle Martin||S||Oklahoma State|
|- -||49||Jamell Fleming||CB||Oklahoma|
|(*) denotes underclassmen|
Here's how the Top 50 board splits out by position groups
|Andrew Luck||Justin Blackmon||Coby Fleener||Trent Richardson||Matt Kalil||David DeCastro|
|Robert Griffin III||Michael Floyd||Orson Charles||Lamar Miller||Riley Reiff||Peter Konz|
|Ryan Tannehill||Kendall Wright||Dwayne Allen||David Wilson||Jonathan Martin||Cordy Glenn|
|Alshon Jeffery||Mike Adams||Kelechi Osemele|
|Mohammed Sanu||Brandon Washington|
|Michael Brockers||Melvin Ingram||Courtney Upshaw||Morris Claiborne||Mark Barron|
|Alameda Ta'amu||Quinton Coples||Luke Kuechly||Janoris Jenkins|
|Devon Still||Nick Perry||Don'ta Hightower||Dre Kirkpatrick|
|Dontari Poe||Whitney Mercilus||Zach Brown||Stephon Gilmore|
|Brandon Thompson||Jared Crick||Vontaze Burfict||Chase Minnifield|
|Fletcher Cox||Vinny Curry|
|Jerel Worthy||Chandler Jones|
|Kendall Reyes||Jonathan Massaquoi|
What To Watch For In The Combine
Some drills are relevant to a prospects position. The forty yard dash is a good measure for the secondary players. During the individual drills, pay attention to the cornerbacks and safeties, see how quickly they can cut and how fluid their hips are. The three cone drill is another important activity that relates to a defensive backs athleticism.
The forty yard dash is overrated for defensive lineman and pass rushers. The ten yard split is a good measure for a defensive lineman because it will show how quickly they can get up the field. The vertical jump is something to watch for when judging pass rushers. You can get a good feel for a pass rushers explosion off the line by the vertical jump. The three cone drill is important for pass rushers to display their athleticism and how fluid they are when making quick cutbacks.
When watching for offensive lineman at the combine, look for their bench press numbers. You want to see how strong they are. The individual drills will showcase how well an offensive lineman can move. Other than that, I use game tape to evaluate offensive lineman.
The interview process is very important during the combine process. Teams will get time to sit down with the prospects and get to know them better. Players with questionable character and off the field concerns will need to win teams over in their interviews. Answering a question the wrong way could cost a potential draft pick a lot of money. Teams also fall in love with prospects during the interview process and that may be the reason you see teams reach for a player on draft day.
The Cowboys front office will be highly interested in two prospects during the interview process. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick are both considered to be top fifteen picks. Both have blue chip talent, but they have major off the field concerns. These two young men will have to ace the interview process. The Cowboys will do their homework on both prospects and what happens in the interview process could determine if they draft one of them with the fourteenth overall pick.
The RKG mentality has been implemented into the Cowboys culture by head coach Jason Garrett. If Jason Garrett is not impressed with a prospect's answers during the interview process, then the Cowboys will not draft them. There has been a high emphasis placed on character, and I doubt that strategy will be ignored going forward. Hate it or love it, Jason Garrett wants the right type of players on his football team.
The best advice I can offer about the 2012 NFL Combine is to watch the position groupings related to the Cowboys needs. If you focus on our needs during the combine, you will come away with a better understanding of the prospects at their respected positions. Remember that the combine can me misleading and be sure to take it with a grain of salt.