Now that the boring parts of the NFL combine are over, we’ve started the part we’ll enjoy – on-field workouts.
Today, running backs, offensive linemen, and special teams’ players took the field. On Saturday, quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends take the field. On Sunday, defensive linemen and linebackers will take the field. Finally, on Monday defensive backs take the field to wrap up on-field workouts.
Of course, all of this leads to the NFL Draft, which begins on April 26th. The combine is key to increasing your value (or destroying it) all in a short time. Just ask Chris Johnson, whose draft stock exploded after his 40-yard dash time. Or Maurice Clarett, who was drafted in the third round after an abysmal 40-yard dash time.
That said, here are my players to watch for the NFL combine:
Mason Rudolph – Rudolph is a classic pocket gunslinger, with great height who stays calm under pressure. He put up big numbers at Oklahoma State, but sometimes makes questionable throws, which he’ll need to tighten up. He’s dealing with a mid-foot sprain, so be sure to watch how his health effects his combine performance.
Lamar Jackson – Jackson is an all-around athlete who’s drawn comparisons to Kordell Stewart and Michael Vick. He played two seasons as wide receiver before taking over quarterback duties at Louisville. He’s expected to do well at the combine, but how teams believe he’ll fit into their scheme should be interesting, considering how versatile he is.
Ronald Jones II – Jones only had one year as a full-time starter at USC, but quickly drew comparisons to Jamaal Charles. He has great speed and decent size for a running back. I expect a solid draft performance, which could event propel him into the first round of the draft.
Sony Michel – Michel was part of a two-headed monster at Georgia, but I like him a little more than I do his stud counterpart Nick Chubb because he’s a bit more versatile. Michel is a one-cut back that has a knack for finding the holes mind-run and with a good combine could find himself squeezing into the first round of the draft.
Courtland Sutton – Sutton is a freakishly athletic, big wide receiver with phenomenal upside. Going to Southern Methodist, he probably doesn’t get the attention of a bigger name school, but that shouldn’t fool you into thinking he isn’t arguably the best wide receiver in the draft. Sutton has big hands, a big wingspan and great ability to elude and break away from defenders.
Marcell Ateman – Ateman averaged nearly 89 yards per game this past season at Oklahoma State, seven of those games with over 100 yards receiving. At 6’4, he’s a deep ball and red zone threat. The 49’ers are already showing interest and it would be hard to deny he could be a big target for Jimmy Garoppolo, if they go in that direction.
Dallas Goedert – Goedert is probably the best college tight end you’ve never heard of. At South Dakota State, he averaged 79 yards per game this past season, with six games over 100 yards receiving. Goedert has uncanny body control and footwork for his size and is difficult to tackle. He has the potential to be a star player in the NFL.
Josh Jackson – The Iowa cornerback is arguably the best cornerback in the draft. He’s a physical, hawkish cover corner with solid size and playmaking ability.
Bradley Chubb – Chubb is an exceptional pass rusher and all-purpose defensive end. He’s deceptively quick for his size with great technique. Chubb has the potential to be an immediate starter in the NFL.
This year’s NFL draft is a talented class, full of game changing players. Only they can determine if they’ll be forever remembered in Canton or forever the locker room joke. The future begins now.