Every year surprises emerge from the NFL combine. While we tend to make jokes about the Underwear Olympics, it is a unique opportunity for NFL teams to compare draft prospects in a standardized setting performing drills that have been designed to measure some basic football skills. KD went into this in his recent look at RB candidate Knile Davis, one of the players that is getting some attention because of his good performance there. At the same time other invitees have a troubling or questionable performance in Indianapolis that can lead their stock to fall.
With pick number 18 in the draft, the Dallas Cowboys could see both kinds of prospects playing a part in their decision on draft day, as well as in later rounds. There are no guarantees in the draft. All you can do is minimize risk. Both fallers and risers have risk associated with them. So if you are faced with one or the other, which way do you go?
The answer actually should already be in place before draft day. The real way this should play out is in how the team's board looks. Decisions are going to be made starting this week on how much weight to put on an unexpectedly good or bad performance.
I'm not going to try and predict how the Cowboys will build their board. I'm just going to point out some names that may be of interest to Dallas that have made some moves, one way or another, at the Combine. It may be a bit premature, since there is still a full day to go - but the positions I think are of most interest for the Cowboys have some numbers up. I looked over what was posted on the Combine Tracker at NFL.com, and a few names stood out for me.
Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M At one point, Moore was considered a sure-fire top-five prospect. Some projections put him as high as the second choice. Then he threw up a puny 12 reps on the bench press before tweaking his hamstring during the 40 yards, and suddenly people are scratching their heads.
Could he suddenly be in play for the Cowboys at 18? While the bench press had everyone reacting negatively, he still had some other decent numbers. He was one of the top performers in both the vertical and broad jumps, which indicates a lot of power in his lower body. There is no indication of what went wrong with the lifting, but he is likely to slide. If he is there at eighteen, does his body of work and possible improvements at the A&M pro day make him worth picking?
Barkevious Mingo DE LSU Mingo did not lift at the combine, but so far he has been tearing everything else up. A top performer among rushmen in the 40, vertical jump and broad jump, he had been projected as a reach for the Cowboys in the first round. Could his performance be enough to push him into range at 18?
Dion Jordan DE Oregon One of the fastest linemen at the combine. Another player who did not lift, which may be a smart strategy given what happened to Moore.
Margus Hunt DE SMU Hunt is a player that will not be a first round choice, but may be worth a little more attention if the Cowboys decide to go OL or S, perhaps, in the first round. Tied for most lifts in the bench press, and near the top of the boards in the other categories listed so far at NFL.com, he has done well for himself. He is also a local product that the team will likely bring in for Dallas Days. This could give them a closer look that may make a difference.
Chance Warmack G Alabama Many boards and such have Warmack as a top-ten talent. Guards are always liable to fall. Warmack passed up on all the basic events except the 40 and the broad jump. He jumped well, but was pretty lethargic in the run. This is normally not a big issue for offensive linemen. But the overall "average" performance he had could make sure he's available when Dallas goes on the clock in the first. Will they take him?
Jonathan Cooper G UNC Another guard a lot of people are very high on. If Dallas is serious about fixing the offensive line (always a question that we have to ask, I know) it is looking more and more like Cooper and/or Warmack could be available in the first round for Dallas.
David Quessenberry OT San Jose State A player who would be somewhere after the first round, Quessenberry is a name that showed up at or near the top of a lot of the tests. OCC's look at the measurables for the O line shows the same thing - this kid just looked outstanding. If the Cowboys are not sure they want to trust Doug Free, Quessenberry may be worth a third - or even a second - if his work in games looks good as well.
Christine Michael RB Texas A&M KD was impressed with RB prospect Knile Davis, who has improved his stock in Indianapolis. But Micheal was arguably more impressive than Davis, posting the best numbers of any running back in the vertical jump, the three cone drill and the 20 yard shuttle, while being near the top of the list in all the other categories. The only question about him is whether he has overcome the issues that got him in the dog house with first year coach Kevin Sumlin this past season. His Q&A with the media went well. If anything, he may have done too well for Dallas. As a borderline third or fourth round choice, he might have been a good value if the team was happy with how he has matured. Now, he may be a second round pick, and that may be too rich for Dallas, given the other needs.
The Combine is not over, and there is a lot of analysis to do, but these were some names at positions that the Cowboys are looking at that should be moving around when the various mocks and boards come out after everyone leaves Indianapolis. There are likely others, but all these struck me as certain to make a move, one way or another.