The NFL combine is a special time of the year for us sports fanatics and I have to admit I am extremely excited! Every team in the NFL has its list of of needs ranging from glaring holes to spots that might just need an upgrade. In the past I have had several players that interested me beyond belief, players like Michael Floyd or Patrick Peterson. These players have kept me glued to my television despite some of the horrifically boring drills (example — all QB drills are boring). This year I have fresh list of players to watch at the combine that I along with all reading this should tune in to watch.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State – Big wide receivers are a premium in the NFL so when teams look at Kelvin Benjamin they will instantly be intrigued. At 6’5” and 235lb Benjamin certainly has the size to be the number one receiver and a “go get it” type of red zone threat. The main reason that Kelvin Benjamin is one of my players to watch at the combine is because speed and agility matter so much at the receiver position. Benjamin has the size but if he cannot create consistent separation against NFL corners he will never be able to truly impact games.
Jared Abbrederis WR Wisconsin – Another wide receiver to watch is Jared Abbrederis out of Wisconsin, The reason I have him on this list is because of his truly unimpressive body type. standing at 6’1” but only weighing 190lb Abberederis is not your generic outside receiver body type. At the combine I will be looking to see his quickness and catch radius.If he shows the potentially to beat the bigger corners in the NFL but also has the hands and catch radius to make catches with a smaller corner draped on him he could create a lot of mismatches, But if he doesn’t show that range and quickness he could be a complete bust with his thin frame really working against him.
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Every Single Defensive Tackle – Defensive Tackle is a particularly hard position to scout at the combine. Speed, agility,and intelligence all can be overshadowed at the DT position if the player has the size and motor. Where the problem lies is if one can truly recognize whether a player is high motor or not from workouts. Also I always love to see the bench press for the really big nose tackles, because it shows whether they are truly strong, or just a big body.
Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State – Top rated corner prospects have an incredibly tough job at the combine. These players need to show top end speed, agility, and coverage knowledge to truly impress. Dennard is one of my players to watch at the combine because I want to see if he can fill the shoes set by previous corners and show great measurable.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste CB Nebraska – I simply love tall lanky corners, and that’s exactly what Jean – Baptiste is. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds Jean- Baptiste has the size that current NFL owners want. He is an extremely interesting prospect especially after a solid senior bowl. If he can show that his speed wont damper his coverage abilities he could shoot up draft boards.
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Austin Seferian-Jenkins,TE Washington – The 6’6” monster of a tight end seemingly has all the tools to be a huge impact in the NFL, but as usual with someone his size quickness is one of the biggest concerns. If he is measure with athleticism deemed fast enough by scouts he may be mentioned as a Rob Gronkowski clone. A good showing could also boost scouts confidence in him after putting up only moderate production in college.
Joe Don Duncan,TE Dixie State – Listed at 6’3” and almost 270 pounds you will be surprised to see Duncan’s truly unique film. Although playing at a small school may have reduced scout exposure Duncan had the luxury of lining up all across the field. Whether he is coming out of the backfield, returning kicks, or burning the defense down field one thing remains true, Duncan looks impressive. However with the vast array of speed and agility drills at the combine scouts will get to see whether Duncan is truly a supreme athlete, or just glorified by weak competition.
Jimmy Ward, S Northern Illinois – It’s hard to say for sure what position Jimmy Ward will truly play in the NFL. In a league that values versatility Ward is on my list of players to watch at the combine because of the chance of him excelling in a very specific role. At 5-10 about 190 lbs Ward isn’t Kam Chancellor but if he shows the coverage tools he could be a Tyrann Mathieu type impact safety in sub packages. If he can excel covering slot corners and making plays deep over the middle Ward can be a great nickleback option in the later rounds.
Antone Exum, CB/S, Virginia Tech – With a more generic mold at the safety position there is Antone Exum. Exum is intriguing because he has barely played any games, playing only two this past season. Exum at 6’1” 220 is a bigger defensive back who played all over the field while at Virginia Tech. He should have the ability to play both safety positions or outside corner on bigger receivers, but the combine will be essential to show his form, hip speed, and recovery speed in coverage. With his length if he shows the smarts and athleticism he will have extreme play maker potential.