Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Road to the combine

The NFL draft is really going to pick up pace now that the season is over. The next big event to look out for is the scouting combine which takes place between 18-24th February. For a full schedule of the event, click here.

The list of players invited to the combine has also been published. To see it in full, click here. Chad Reuter from NFL Draft Scout looks at the prospects who weren't invited but could still make it in the NFL.

There are some interesting questions to be answered in Indianapolis - will Michael Crabtree run the 40 and will his decision either way affect his draft stock? Who will show up best amongst the offensive tackle group? Will we see another work out warrior type like Vernon Gholston shoot up the draft board with a good performance? Will Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez gain an advantage in the race to go first overall?


Misfit said...

"Michael Crabtree, who recently announced he's entering this year's draft, is working out with Olympic champion sprinter Michael Johnson and receiving advice from Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders as he prepares for the combine and his pro day. Crabtree will not run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but will run at his Pro Day."

-Tacoma News Tribune/SI.mobile

Rob Staton said...

The reason I posed the question was mainly because Calvin Johnson originally said he wouldn't run the 40 but changed his mind at the last minute. Although it's been well reported he won't run and it's very unlikely Crabtree will have a change of heart, there is still time for him to change his mind. If by some chance he recovers fully from his ankle problem and is running well in work outs leading up to the combine, he might decide to post a time. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Misfit said...

Good point, Rob, but I believe that since his speed is kind of a question mark, he'll want every advantage he can have, and will choose to run at his pro-day.

I don't know why Calvin wouldn't have run at the combine. His speed is one of his real assets compared to any receiver, let alone a man that size.

Frankly, the faster Crabtree runs, the less chance we have of drafting him, one could theorize. If he ran a 4.4 flat (or sub 4.4), I don't see how the teams above us (except Detroit) don't consider him even more. That type of 40-time would spell the entire package for an elite NFL WR. What do you think, Rob? I'm guessing he runs close to a 4.5, though. Maybe a high 4.4

Rob Staton said...

It's a very good point Misfit. With a strong 40 time he starts getting talked about in the same way Calvin Johnson was. Even if he doesn't run, he's still going in the top five. He's an exciting prospect who I fully expect to have a great NFL career.

Personally, I'm beginning to wonder which direction the Rams are Chiefs will go. Crabtree for me is the most talented prospect in this draft. Even though they have bigger needs or could be slated to go in a different direction - could they be tempted to take Crabtree simply because he's the top guy? Both franchises are in rebuild mode so it would make some sense just to try and get as much talent on board as they can.

Anonymous said...

Rob, there have been rumors that Jeremy Maclin can run in the high 4.2s. Let's say he runs a 4.29 at the combine and Crabtree is selected at #2 by the rams. Does Maclin's 40 time boost his stock to the point where the Hawks consider him a legitimate option at #4?

Personally, I hate basing draft stock on the combine because I think what you do on the field means much more than how fast you run in gym shorts, but Maclin has size and has shown he can develop into a #1 WR. Does an insane 40 time put him into the Hawks main targets list? Or do you think he is already there with the threat of Crabtree not being available? I hate to come off as wanting the "sexy" pick, but I personally am worried about every OT in this draft. I have just heard too many knocks on every guy for me to feel confident that they are the next dominant LT. Personally, I want the #4 pick to be used on a supreme talent who many feel have a chance of being great without having to change their "game".

Misfit said...

Maclin should be an excellent NFL player. I don't know if he's #4-worthy, myself. I wouldn't think so after how the draft went last year.

Rob, you might check out the NFP mock draft 2nd round. My sentiments exactly (regarding the 'Hawks pick):


Rob Staton said...

Hi annonymous,

I'm pretty sure Maclin will be on the teams radar because as you say, he's very talented and plays at a position of need. However, I'm not sure the speed issue will mean much in terms of Seattle. The main positive of elite speed at WR is the ability to throw the deep ball, but Hasselbeck hasn't got the big arm to really take advantage of it. If the Seahawks take Maclin, it's because they believe he can be moulded into an elite receiver and it'll be based on his all round game. I have some doubts about his ability to have an impact immediately, he often 'winged' it in Missouri and didn't run precise routes. He might take a year or two to develop that aspect of his game to become really useful. I think he compares well to Ted Ginn Jr.

As for the sexy pick, I wouldn't worry about it. I think you should never avoid taking someone because they aren't 'safe' enough to be drafted and although a lot of people talk about 'safe picks' I don't think such a thing exists. As you say, all the offensive tackles have question marks, whether it's Andre Smith's ability against speed, Monroe's heart, Jason Smith's ability to play in a pro offense or Oher's inconsistency.

The team needs an offensive playmaker somewhere, whether that's a WR, RB, OT. It'll be interesting to see what direction the team goes on draft day.

Rob Staton said...

Thanks for the link Misfit. Getting Crabtree and LeSean McCoy in the first two rounds without having to initiate any trades, would just about be as good as it gets. Two offensive playmakers with big potenital, production at college and good characters. If it works out like that, Seattle will be getting great value. Other positions might be considered bigger needs, but as the article suggests, sometimes you just cant pass up on a prospect.

Anonymous said...

It is crazy how this time of year all the rumors change on a daily basis. I can not see either St. Louis or KC drafting Crabtree just based on where they are with their team development and for the fact that they both have a young wideout. However, the way the Fitzgerald played in the playoffs I am sure every team can envision what a elite wideout does to your success. I am on the Crabtree bandwagon and think we would be amazing wearing Seahawk blue!

Rob, if Crabtree gets drafted before the Hawks pick who do you see them ultimately drafting. There seems to be no clear cut player after Crabtree.

Rob Staton said...

Crabtree is the obvious choice in a lot of mocks right now because he fills a hole. Seattle needs an offensive play maker, they need a go to receiver. He also ticks the boxes Tim Ruskell looks for in terms of character and production.

I think the reason there doesn't appear to be any other obvious candidates is mainly due to the general lack of immediacy (for example, taking a QB or a LT to replace ageing stars) the fact the Seahawks are well set at certain positions (like linebacker where Aaron Curry is highly ranked) or that some picks that would be deemed a good fit are just too much of a reach (Knowshon Moreno).

Essentially though, even with Crabtree off the board it's a good chance to grab a really talented prospect. I like both quarter backs Sanchez and Stafford - it might be an expensive investment but you can lock up the long term future at QB.

I am a big fan of Knowshon Moreno and think he can have a real impact on the NFL. It would be a high pick for a running back but I wouldn't rule it out completely - a small trade down makes this move more likely.

There are question marks about all the offensive tackles in this class. However, the team could see one of the A.Smith/J.Smith/Monroe/Oher group as being worthy of a long term investment at LT. Andre Smith is particularly interesting because he grades out as a dominant run blocker. Seattle want to run the ball more in 2009, but they also appear to have signed Locklear to a contract making him the future replacement for Walter Jones at LT. Smith could play guard from day one and kick over to RT long term.

And then we have the defensive guys. I would be suprised if they took Raji due to character concerns. Aside from that, they might invest in another pass rusher (Orakpo, Brown) or another cornerback (Jenkins, Davis). The only issues I have with that is Tim Ruskell has already spent high picks on the position over the years and I would think he'll give his young players a chance to become bonafide starters. Regardless, it could be argued Orakpo and Brown both suit playing in a 3-4, Jenkins has issues with recovery speed and may be moved to safety in the NFL and Davis has motivation problems and was benched by Illinois because of this in 2008.

So despite there being a number of options, as you say it's still quite unclear. All I would say is don't rule anything out.

Anonymous said...

I think people that write off taking a QB at #4 don't understand the importance of not having to throw a young guy in the fire right off the bat. If there is any position to draft a guy "too early" it would have to be QB. I really think guys like Stafford and Sanchez have stardom in their future if given the right situation. A guy like Sanchez could sit for a few years (like he did at SC) and take over for Hass and really hit the ground running. With so many colleges relying on gimmicky offensive systems, it's getting tougher to find quality QBs who you don't have to re-teach the position. I am right there with you Rob, there is no way to write off any position at this point.

Anonymous said...

I understand the argument about taking a QB, but for me personally I do not see the Hawks as a rebuilding team. Would it be worth a top 5 five pick, both money and position, for a third string QB for the next 2-3 years?

Rob Staton said...

It really depends how long you think Matt Hasselbeck can be the team's franchise QB. If you're confident he can compete at a 2005/2007 level for the next 3 years then a QB in the first round isn't necessary. On the other hand, he's 34 years old and coming off a year plagued with injuries. He's also taking a significant amount of cap room. Without the big arm that traditionalyl keeps QB's going into the late 30's, he could essentially resort to being a 'game manager' type QB. Essentially, playing the same role as Kerry Collins for the Titans but at a vastly more expensive price.

Of course the argument could be made - look at Collins (leading a 13-3 team) and look at Kurt Warner (Super Bowl). They have done well with age and without that big arm.

If you envisage needing to make a change in 2010 or 2011, taking a QB becomes more acceptable. You can spend a high pick on a talented QB and give them a year or two to learn the playbook, develop and improve. It's an expensive investment in the future, but at the most important position in football.

Even if the team aren't in total rebuild, they could invest in the QB long term but still get the short term benefit from Hasselbeck. The only issue then - you haven't been able to get that offensive play maker to come in from day one with the first round pick.

Rotak said...

Some of my own thoughts on the matter:

1.) If Maclin runs a 4.2, it doesn't change my thoughts at all. Why? Because we already knew he was blazing fast. I mean, what does a 4.2 tell you that wasn't on film? Not much, IMO. You knew before he declared he was one of the fastest guys in the class.

2.) Johnson wasn't going to run because the 4.35 shocked the bejeebus out of everyone. Even when we thought he was 225lbs, I expected him to be a late 4.4-4.5 guy. I'd say, on the field, the speed didn't truly translate because while he is fast, he doesn't have the exceptional burst, so he doesn't look that fast. Good deep target cause he can outrun guys after 10 yards, but in and out of his cuts he isn't like a "normal" 4.35 guy.