First of all, i just want to emphasize that the combine will not change my mind about certain players and what I think about them or grade them, the only thing it will do is resolve a tie-breaker that I may have between two different players. Although, today I came away impressed by quite a few players. I have been doing this as fanshots the first two days but there were so many players that I have to talk about today that I just had to do a fan post. I realize that Chia has this on lock down, but I know the value of opinions and when you get two people saying the same thing then it just strengthens the point. So join me after the break for the players that I came away with something to say about them.
Michael Brockers - DT - LSU
First of all we will start with Michael Brockers. This is the Boom/Bust guy of the draft. I have heard lots of people comparing him to J.J. Watt, and I have just stated on record that there is a possibility that he could be a J.J. Watt kind of players. However, I will eat those words right now as I just don't see quite the same kind of athleticism for him as I did from J.J. Watt. One thing that I did notice though was that he weighed in at 322 lbs. up from I think his original weight of 306 in college. 322 gets him into the conversation of nose tackles. I think he may even be able to add a little more bulk on and there is definitely potential there and plenty of room I think to grow. Although, if anything I would say a few red flags may have come up today, although I still think he is just a really raw player that needs some coaching. He may be able to play nose tackle at his current weight but i would hope he would add on some more bulk if that were his job.
Jared Crick - DT - Nebraska
I saw some nice explosion out of Jared Crick. He has a nice base to him and some good power in the legs. He had one of the fastest 10-yard splits of the day so we know he is pretty good coming off the snap and will hit the line with some momentum built up. He didn't bench press, and I believe that is because of his torn pectoral, which has driven his draft stock down as he won't be able to show as much and had a shortened senior season because of it. However, all but one of the combine workouts (bench press) measures what you have for legs and he was good in all of those tests. He is a little more athletic than I expected as I didn't expect such a good running time and especially such a good 10-yard split. Keep your eye on this kid if we end up needing another 3-technique.
Melvin Ingram - DE - South Carolina
I have one knock on Melvin Ingram, and it is the same one that everyone has, his short arms. His arms are only 31". Now, how important is that? As a defensive end he will be going against some very tall and long armed tackles in the NFL, however, he does make up for his size with his explosion, evidenced by the numbers he posted in all of his other workouts. He also is very versatile and can play pretty much anywhere in the front seven, especially in a 3-4 system. Really, he was everything I expected him to be and has some amazing ability in spite of his lack of arm length. I would dare to say that he has natural hands for catching passes, yes I said NATURAL hands. He caught the ball on one of the drills away from his body and secured it and looked like a wide receiver doing so in the linebacker conversion drills. This just adds to the attraction to drafting him as he isn't just a good rusher, but will be dangerous as well when dropping into coverage, perfect fit for a LOLB in a 3-4. And on third down he can move down to a DE position and place another pass rusher in there at LOLB to add to the rush. He could even play ILB on some downs if you asked him too. He has THAT much ability. He also has some good feet as no one looked better than him in the drills as far as footwork. He did have trouble keeping his eyes up in one drill however, which may signal that he'll need some coaching as that may indicate that if a player tries to go low on him to block, it might cause him to take his eyes off of the ball carrier more than it should. Besides that and his short arms, I love what i see from Ingram. Best of all, he as the right kind of attitude and wants to work hard and play with passion, so there may be a leader in him too.
Bruce Irvin - DE - West Virginia
Okay, let me say this much. This guy is a pass rusher that looks and runs/moves like a safety in space. That is straight from the mouth of Mike Mayock and I thought the same thing while watching him. That will pretty much sum up anything else that I have to say.This guy looked incredibly natural dropping back in space and moves extremely well. Not only that but he ran the fastest time and 10-yard split so he is the fastest guy off of the ball, so if you want a speed rusher and a 3-4 conversion guy, look no further. He can use some more coaching and developing pass rushing moves but the guy is a crazy gifted athlete. He also looked pretty good catching a ball in the drills, although not a natural doing it like I think Melvin Ingram displayed.
Dontari Poe - NT - Memphis
Can I just say wow and leave it at that and go home? Okay, I'm already at home but that also wouldn't do him justice. Have you ever seen another guy that carries 346 lbs so well?! Well yeah, his name is Haloti Ngata. I won't say a rookie is going to be a pro bowler like Haloti Ngata before he even suits up on and NFL field, but wow. A 346 lbs nose tackle that runs a sub-5 40 yard dash?! Absolutely incredible. Not only that but the guy is a straight up beast and went for 44 reps at 225 lbs on the bench. And that isn't all, but the guy moved in the bag drills and such like a linebacker. Are you freaking kidding me? He has feet like a linebacker too? Ok, if we weren't allowed to watch tape on people then I would say that every team in the league would be chasing and coveting this guy. The guy is a 346 lbs athlete, not easy to find. He has feet like a linebacker, the strength of "I don't know what", and speed (yes I just said speed). This is a nose tackle that will chase down some ball carriers. If anyone might have improved their stock in the combine, then it was this kid. He may have been a possibility to trade up for at the end of the 1st round but now, I don't know about that. He is Mayock's #3 defensive tackle as of right now, so he might just be an option at the #14 spot. What a specimen.
Jonathan Massaquoi - DE - Troy
So I have been high on this guy for a while now. I thought he had some pretty good jump off of the line on tape, but I didn't see that evidenced today. I'm not going to say that I am off of the kid's bandwagon officially, however I will say that he has cemented his status as a late 3rd or 4th round prospect. One thing to really like about his kid are his 34" arms, which are a pretty good length that he can use to keep tackles off of him. People still say they don't really know where he belongs though as they think he is a little small to line up on the line in a 4-3 but isn't quite what you are looking for in a 3-4 OLB. He does have some experience dropping into coverage though in college. He may just need some coaching. I may be willing to take a chance on him in the 4th round but not really any earlier than that. This guy I think will definitley come into the league with a chip on his shoulder, and if he is a competitor, then that could be just what he needs to develop into a good player.
Well, those are my thoughts on the players I looked at today. I didn't get to watch the Linebackers much because the DVR reached the end of the recording in the middle of the 40 yard dash for them. I am not really looking for someone from that linebackger group though. I know Keuchly was quite impressive today, however I don't like the idea of taking another ILB early in the draft. We already got 2 first round grade ILBs on our roster and will now be the starters there most likely going forward. Plus, you would like to have ILBs who can rush the passer, and Keuchly is not known for that much at all. Then again Bruce Lee doesn't necessarily have that as a strong point either, but I don't see a reason to take Keuchly that high.
I realize that you all may not agree with me here but these are the players that I took note of in the combine, negatively, positively or both. Were there other players I was impressed by? Yes, but lets just focus on the people I think we will genuinely be looking at come April 26.