It never ceases to amaze me that the folks in the NFL will put more weight on a workout in March than they do three or four years of high level competition. Why they insist that the time a player navigates the shuttle run is more important than the 30 games he played is beyond me. Consider for a minute if other industries acted the same way.
Can you imagine a law firm looking at an extremely qualified attorney and then deciding despite their track record they would ask them some legal trivia and base their decision on that? How about a hospital choosing surgeons based not on their track record with patients but their ability to memorize body parts in multiple languages?
Still as bizarre as the system may be, it’s the only one we got. And, as a result this is a crucial weekend for a number of former Florida Gators. 13 of them are in Indianapolis for the combine, each carrying a pre-combine “grade” ranging from a low of 30 to a high of 95. As a result, some of them have much to gain, and others have a lot to lose.
I’m going to look at each of the 13. Keep in mind there are approximately 30 players in each number group. Thus, guys in the nineties are likely first rounder picks, eighties in round two and so on. Guys lower in the group (i.e.: 90, 91 or 80, 81) have the highest potential to slide down; the high numbers (for example 88, 89) could be moving up. Thus positive changes in most of these guys’ numbers could help them move up a round or even more.
Likely Day One Picks
Reggie Nelson (95) —– The safety extraordinaire carries the highest grade of any Gator and is the only one that is certain to be a first round pick. Only LSU’s Leron Landry might be chosen higher than Nelson and several teams are hoping he slides to them.
Jarvis Moss (91) —– He might have as much “up side” of anyone in this draft and is likely to be a steal after pick # 20. As a fan of the New York Jets, I would love to see Moss there at # 25 but I don’t think he will be.
Brandon Siler (87) —– Much like Andra Davis a few years ago, Siler appeared to be a guy who will be a better pro than his draft position seemed to indicate. However high number, combined with a weak linebacker class has Siler pegged as a late one/early two on draft day. Is he runs a faster time than expected, round one could become a certainty.
Ray McDonald (84) —– Despite multiple knee surgeries, NFL teams love Ray Mac’s versatility and productivity. However versatility tends to slide in the draft, so up at Indy he’ll be trying to show that explosive burst that will convince them his best pass rushing days are ahead of him.
Marcus Thomas (76) —– One of the most volatile picks in the draft this year, Thomas is a first round talent with seventh round decision-making skills. It’s one of those risk/reward type of gambles that some team will take. His performances OFF the field may be more important than what he shows ON the field between now and draft day.
Earl Everett (75) —– This is a number that baffles me, but is likely to go up once Everett displays his speed for the scouts. He seems better suited for an outside spot, rather than inside and may move up on some draft boards depending on the defensive scheme of the team in question.
Day Two Picks (or Free Agents)
Ryan Smith (70) —– He’s a borderline guy with a lot on the line. Smith’s slight build works strongly against him, despite his excellent ball skills. Smith needs to put on about 20 quality pounds (not the ones I carry) to prove he can play and survive in the NFL. Another year of college and physical growth could have given him second round potential. As it is, round four is his most likely destination.
Dallas Baker (59) —– Here’s a situation where raw measurables are likely to overrule playing ability and productivity. Baker won’t ever be a top two receiver at the next level, but he’s one helluva down the rotation prospect.
DeShawn Wynn (57) —– He has the talent to warrant a much higher score, but his penchant for injury and marginal productivity have him going in round five or six. Wynn would be a good pick for a team with a two-back system that already has a scat back type… or as a possible backup to a newly designated # 1 back like Joseph Addai.
Reggie Lewis (56) —– His recent conversion (two years) to defense might have some scouts seeing a higher ceiling for Lewis. He also has shown a willingness to be physical on special teams which doesn’t hurt, either.
Chris Leak (51) —– Ranked ninth among quarterbacks Leak certainly has a chance to move significantly in either direction. The lack of downfield passing success the last two years has to hurt, but his ability to win with three different offensive coordinators can’t hurt. He’ll also score very high in all character ratings.
Jemalle Cornelius (41) —– Cornelius isn’t as tall or as fast as they would like, but he does offer excellent hands, quickness and competitiveness. He’s also off the charts in character, but that may not get him drafted.
Joe Cohen (30) —– Just like Steven Harris, Cohen is a guy who I believe will make a team no matter whether he is drafted or not. They’ll love Joe’s personality and unselfishness and the way he and Harris both stepped up after the dismissal of Marcus Thomas is a huge plus. I see both being a notch below Ian Scott, but solid enough to help a team.
We’ll check the post-combine numbers and see what guys helped/hurt their status before the Gators host their own pro scout day on March 7th.