Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"OMalley's Tallies": NFL Combine 2009 Review - Risers, Fallers, and Who To Keep An Eye On

Unlike any other professional sport in the world, the NFL’s annual Collegiate Draft continues to grow in popularity year in and year out. With around the clock television coverage and more and more analysts covering the Scouting Combine Event from Indianapolis, the Draft is just another way that the marketing machine better known as the National Football League continues to grow in popularity. With the Combine coming to a close last weekend, Sports Judge has put together some of the high’s and low’s that we saw from Indianapolis and what can we can expect come late April…


1. Derius Heyward Bey – While I won't be the first person to say that the 40 yard dash is slightly overrated when evaluating talent, a 4.3 is still 4.3!! That’s exactly what DHB ran last week in Indy, solidifying himself as a first round selection in April’s draft. While Bey will have to work on finding more consistency from week to week (tended to disappear at times while at Maryland), his 6’ 2’’, 210 lb. frame should translate well with proper guidance at the next level (Possible landing spots: New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins).

2. Aaron Curry – Despite winning the Butkus Award in 2008 (Nation’s top LB) and being an All-American, Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry seemed to lack the household name appeal of a Terrell Suggs or A.J. Hawk from years past. That all quickly changed, however, after performing his workouts at the Combine last week. After having the best results among linebackers in the 40 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, and 60 yard shuttle, Aaron Curry has turned a number of heads and appears to be destined to be the top defensive player off the board in 2009. With the Chiefs looking to transition their defense into a 3-4 scheme, don’t be surprised to see Aaron Curry join Derrick Johnson and Co. in Kansas City this coming year as the 3rd overall pick.

3. Jason Smith – If one thought Aaron Curry lacks proper name recognition for a player of his caliber, Jason Smith’s case might be even more extreme. Initially playing at Baylor University as a tight end, it wasn’t until his Sophomore year when the athletic Smith made the transition to offensive tackle. While he may lack the experience and polish as some other top linemen from years past, his upside has scouts from a number of teams salivating. Despite going up against some of the top defensive talent in the country in the Big 12, Smith was still able to be named an All American at his position his Senior year and by almost all accounts has become the top available Offensive Lineman in 2009. With Orlando Pace expected to be traded or released and on the wrong side of 30, Jason Smith would look good lining up in the Blue and Gold next year as a St. Louis Ram.

4. Brian Robiskie – When you bring up the top receivers in this year’s draft, names that immediately come to mind are Crabtree, Maclin, Harvin, Heyward-Bey, and Britt. While the names in the preceding may all contain the flash and big-play ability that teams yearn for, I feel that they all fail to match the knowledge of the game possessed by Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie. Being the son of long time NFL Receiver’s coach Terry Robiskie, Brian is an outstanding route runner that will counted upon to move the chains at the next level rather than be the downfield burner. Playing alongside speedsters Teddy Ginn and Santonio Holmes during his tenure in Columbus, Robiskie will definitely have a solid career as a #2 or #3 receiver. At 6’3’’, a good comparison for Robiskie might be Keyshawn Johnson and his knack for going over the middle to make a catch with his great hands...


1. Andre Smith – If the thought of a being top 10 pick for an NFL organization and becoming financially set for the rest of your life can’t motivate you to get yourself in shape for the Combine, I don’t know what will. For an individual with top 5 talent, the fact that he was unable to perform at the Combine due to lack of conditioning will be and should be a red flag for almost every club. With the economy in the condition that it is in, it will be hard to justify paying an individual that lacks motivational skills millions of guaranteed dollars. While Smith may become a real steal if he were to slip past the top 10 selections, he would definitely not be the cornerstone of my team as a GM.

2. Rey Maualuga – When it comes to the case of USC’s Rey Maualuga, a nagging injury may be the reason for his stock dropping quickly. With an aching hamstring forcing the USC All-American to come up lame after his first 40 yard attempt, Maualuga immediately became overshadowed by other linebackers in the draft including his former teammate Brian Cushing and the aforementioned Aaron Curry. Already a player known more his instincts on the field rather than his true speed, Maualuga most likely slipped into the mid to late first round with this performance.

3. Matthew Stafford – Despite being a successful starter in the SEC at University of Georgia and having a rock solid arm, does Matthew Stafford really possess that “Wow” factor that the #1 pick should display? While he may lack any true character issues and has a great winning attitude, Stafford lacks ideal height at 6’ 2 1/4’’ and is often similar to Brett Favre with his questionable decision making skills. Although I am sure the idea of teaming up Matthew Stafford with Calvin Johnson for years to come may be enticing to those in the Motor City, I am really not sure if Stafford is a player that could even come close to having a Matt Ryan impact as a rookie in the NFL. With 2009 being a down year for quarterbacks (as well as Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford choosing to back to school), Stafford will still find a way to get paid a hefty amount of money despite all this.

4. Malcolm Jenkins – In what seems to be a theme for Ohio State seniors this year, Malcolm Jenkins might quietly be regretting coming back to school for his senior season. A sure fire top 5-10 pick after his Junior season, Jenkins decided to go back to school in 08’ in hopes of further solidifying his already sky-high draft stock. In a move similar to Matt Leinart from a few years back (and we all know how that has worked out so far..), Jenkins stock has nearly fallen out of the top 10 and somewhere towards the middle to late of the 1st round. Being taller than the average NFL corner and quite a bit slower than some of the league’s fastest at the position, many of the game’s finest scouts have said numerous times that Jenkins may project better long-term as a safety. While Jenkins is adamant that his future should remain at corner, he has a lot of improvements to make before late April to ensure this is the case.


1. Michael Crabtree (WR – Texas Tech) – Pending no complications from his foot surgery, Crabtree should be an immediate impact player at the next level. Has a knack for finding the football and seems to show up regularly in Red Zone.

2. Chris “Beanie” Wells (RB – Ohio State) – Similar to a LenDale White role, Wells should be the bruiser in the backfield for any team willing to take a chance on him. You can expect him to find the endzone on a number of short yardage situations. A team like the Eagles would be a good fit with Buckhalter heading to Denver and Westbrook’s injury history.

3. Hakeem Nicks (WR – North Carolina) - After seeing what he is capable of in this years Bowl game vs. West Virginia, I am a HUGE fan of this young man and what he can do at the next level. Put in the right situation where he can be a solid # 2 receiver and learn from a veteran, there is no reason why Nicks can’t have the same impact in his rookie season as Eddie Royal did last year in Denver.

4. Cornelius Ingram (TE – Florida) – This might be a little bit of a stretch since his he has not played in over a year, but from the small sample I saw of Ingram during his career as a Gator I really liked what I saw. With TE depth clearly a struggle for fantasy owners last year after the top tear players were off the board, look for Ingram to be the best rookie fantasy option at the position.

*Keep an eye out for more offseason NFL coverage right here at the SportsJudge Blog and as always feel free to submit your thoughts or questions in the Comments section.

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Anonymous said...

What about in your rising column Ron Brace? In a draft that has a dearth of DT Brace is pushing his way up to the late-mid first round. Just an FYI

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