Saturday, 27 February 2010

Saturday combine review

By Rob Staton
Lot's has been happening at the combine today. We saw the third group take their turn to get measured (defensive line/linebackers), the QB/RB/WR group prepared to work out tomorrow and we saw the offensive lineman and tight ends begin drills included the most important 'mirror drill' and not the so important forty yard dash. I've listed a collection of video links at the bottom of this article which show the prospects working out and being interviewed - recommended viewing.

Let me offer some thoughts on what we've seen so far. I find it hard to get too carried away by offensive lineman working out at the combine. They aren't going to be running forty yards in a straight line in the NFL, so running a fast time means little to me. What I want to see is good mirror skills, quick feet and and a strong punch. You don't earn a strong punch doing weights - it's a technique. Out of all this group of offensive lineman, only Charles Brown has convinced me he's capable of offering that based on college tape.

Bruce Campbell looks like a machine. We expected a physical beast and it's exactly what we've got. He's run well, benched well, measured well. You can almost hear Al Davis salivating from here. People will thrust him up their mock drafts and anoint him one of the starts of the combine. Something to remember here - Campbell has suffered a handful of injuries that have led to missed time. He's relatively inexperienced anyway. You'd be investing in raw athleticism, but you'd have to mould it into a starting left tackle. Great physical qualities don't always equate to great performance.

Russell Okung has performed the most complete work out amongst lineman. He benched 225lbs 38 times (two more than Campbell) he ran a very solid forty yard dash and he has the prototype size and build. He talks a good game in interviews. If you're looking for someone who is probably at their peak entering the draft - Okung is your man. However, I don't think he has much upside. He's sloppy in pass protection at times - that can be worked on. But do you want to spend a high pick on a tackle in that position? When I watched him, I didn't see a dominant force. Prospects like Anthony Davis might not have wowed anyone with a sluggish forty time and an average bench press - but he's only twenty years old and with good coaching could be a real force in the NFL. He has a very high ceiling, he needs refining but his pass protection is very good even now. Okung suffered a groin injury during work outs and didn't complete all of the drills.

You can see all the results so far from work outs by clicking here.

Watch the offensive lineman running the forty yard dash by clicking here.

Meet Bruce Campbell here.

The all important mirror drills can be witnessed here. Look out for #5 Charles Brown (OT, USC) and #6 Bryan Bulaga (OT, Iowa) and #10 Bruce Campbell (OT, Maryland). Brown looks real smooth and the best of the three by some stretch for me - footwork is vital because if you can get into position quickly, you're not always having to make adjustments. Watching tape, this was a major strong point for Brown in SoCal last year.

If you want to see the measurements for the defensive lineman, this is the place to be.

Jimmy Clausen talks to the NFL Network's Jason La Canfora.

La Canfora also speaks to Sam Bradford about his shoulder.

Clausen or Bradford? Who do you prefer?

Trent Williams had a very good day. He says it was only "ok".


Anonymous said...

Couple observations...

Charles Brown: If he is at 303 (+15 lbs) at the combine, I honestly think he could put on another 10. He looks so fluid and textbook in all the drills. I would not be disappointed with him at 14 at all. He just looks like what Gibbs dreams about at night in an O-lineman.

Bruce Campbell: The ultimate piece of athletic clay. If he proves coachable/intelligent, I'm not going to be shocked if in a few years he's considered one of the most dominant LTs in the NFL. For a "workout warrior", he looked very natural in every drill and he made it look so easy. I can't imagine what Gibbs could do with this guy. His injuries are concerning, but I can't help but think of Adrian Peterson and how his health was a huge concern in college.

Bulaga: Looked great at everything, but I can't help but think he has reached the pinnacle of his talent. Iowa guys are well coached and I just don't see him getting any better. Safe pick, but his lack of "length" scares me for a top 15 pick.

Trent Williams: Pleasantly surprised by his fluidity. That said, there's too many scouts and too much tape indicating he's probably going to be stuck on the right side. He's going to be a beast though, and sadly probably for the 49ers.

Rodger Saffold: Looked good at everything, but nothing spectacular. He comes across as a Gibbs type but I just don't think you can draft him thinking he's your LT of the future.

All in all, I think there are great candidates to play LT. Despite Gibbs presence on the coaching staff, I still think LT is too important to not invest a high pick. I know everyone likes Iupati, but ZBS is specifically designed to be able to not spend high picks on the interior.

That said, I would be happy with Brown or Campbell at 14. Anthony Davis scares me because I think the lack of "measurables" in regards to the 40 and bench press indicate that his work ethic is a "real" issue. A guy as massive and athletic as him should be able to put up better numbers. Campbell is a freak, but it's clear that he has put in time to become that much more "freakish."

Rob Staton said...

Updated the post to include thoughts on the mirror drill.

Kip Earlywine said...

I thought Brown and Campbell looked like the clear winners in the mirror drill (as far as the clip showed anyway). Bulaga was pretty good too.

Campbell is having a hell of a combine.

Rob Staton said...

I'm updating this as stuff comes in so keep checking back.

Rob Staton said...

Russell Okung picked up a groin injury in work outs.

Kevin said...

In some of the 'highlights' the NFL Network showed of Campbell, he looked awful. Talk about raw.

Williams and Brown looked very good.

xan32 said...

Bulaga was the winner in my opinion....

FWBrodie said...

Something I've noticed about Charles Brown's pass-pro technique is that he tends to attack the line of scrimmage a bit too much. He seems to get away with it because he gets to his man quickly and reacts very quickly, but he's also leaving himself vulnerable with his shoulders too far forward and some momentum behind him. Maybe this is an adaptation to being a little undersized that he's used to avoid being bull rushed, but I'd like to see him get those shoulders back and get that first step moving backward more because a smart DE will see that and yank him in close where he can control him or use his momentum against him and swim by.

Anyone else see this?

Kyle Rota said...

FWBrodie - I agree. I just did a game of Brown earlier today and he got beat doing that once against Stanford. It didn't hurt him because he had help, but it wasn't a great play. He'll do it on 3-step drops too, but it's not a bad strategy since Barkley isn't terrible tall and it does tend to keep the DE from getting his hands up.

Brown has a couple bad habits that he's gotten away with. He'll occasionally dip his head and can lose his man that way too, though his natural athleticism helps him. And while he can exhibit good nastiness, he definitely becomes a watcher on 3-4 plays a game (watcher: Someone who gives up on the play when there is still more he could do), though against Stanford none of his lost opportunities made a play on the ball anyways.

Don't want to make this sound like I'm down on Brown. I actually think he has a lot of talent and could be very good if he responds well to hard coaching and has a good work ethic. But there are definitely some flaws, little things that Brown can usually make up for, but that guys like Okung don't do in the first place. Brown is a converted TE, and while his coaching has been exemplary (only OL I've scouted this year who really gets the "punch" idea), he has things that he'll need to fix.

FWBrodie said...

I agree with what you're saying too. Brown's ability to keep his man in front of him and get to where he needs to be quickly is probably the best of anyone else in the draft. To add to your "watcher comment" I'd take it a step further and say he just doesn't finish his blocks with any consistency at all. He gets to his man and even moves him most of the time, but only for a second or two. That's enough most of the time, but you'd just like him to really swallow those linebackers up the way his athleticism and positioning should allow him to.

What's nice about the flaws in Brown's game is that they are coachable and for someone who hasn't been a tackle for very long they are probably just a lack of feel for the position. If he continues to bulk up that could solve some of these issues as well.

A counter example is that Brian Bulaga doesn't quite have the natural athleticism that Brown possesses, but he's got incredible technique and feel for the game that only comes from putting in years and years of work at practice, in the film room, and on game day. Bulaga locks onto a block and takes his man out of the play, but he may be a step slow to the second level or get run by in pass pro while Brown may not.

Thusly, Bulaga will probably be the better player right from the get go in the NFL (especially as a run blocker), but two or three years down the line Brown could easily range from equally productive to much much better depending upon how much of his upside has been harnessed.

Ralphy said...

Rob how would you feel about an Ok. State draft? Okung at 6, Dez at 14 and Perish Cox at 40!

Lenny James said...

Hey Rob, What is your take on Anthony Dixon RB from Miss St. and Ryan Matthews from Fresno St. Both have good tape and may be around in the 3rd or 4th round. Seems like good value.

Rob Staton said...

I'm not a fan of Okung that early. Dez Bryant - I'm disappointed he wasn't able to work out. You want to see a forty time. Crabtree didn't work out but he was coming off a double Biletnikoff winning career in back-to-back seasons. Bryant hasn't been on the field in a long time. Having said that, he's very talented and would give Seattle a much needed boost on offense. If Nate Burleson doesn't re-sign and Deion Branch is cut, rest assured they'll take a long hard look at Dez Bryant with those first round picks. Perrish Cox is a potential playmaker in the secondary and could go in round two.

Rob Staton said...

I like Dixon. Pete Carroll says he wants some size at RB today and Dixon would fit the bill. Pure power. Mathews would be fair value in rounds 3/4. That's the range I'd be happy to consider him. I don't buy all this talk of him going in round one, that'd be a huge reach for me. He does nothing special and can be found in the draft every year. A journalist I really respect (won't name names) tweeted today that people should watch Youtube footage of Mathews because he's a great option in round one. That's the problem - I could give you footage of any running back from youtube and they'd look like a first round pick. That's the point of a highlights reel.

The Seahawks have to find value at RB to compliment what they already have (which isn't a great deal). I think it could be a multi-back system next year. Wouldn't surprise me if one or two come in via draft/free agency/UDFA. Mario Hardesty interests me late on.

Jon said...

The NFL network scroll mentioned Mike Bell wouldn't be receiving a tender from the Saints.

Originally drafted under Shanahan in Denver, had a nice season in the 3 headed backfield this year. I don't know if he'd come cheaper than JJ, but if so it'd be a decent upgrade.

SD said...

Honestly, I want to go with the Oklahomians with our firsts. Bradford + Trent.

This is my favourite time of the year, so exciting.

Curt said...

Rob, it drives me nuts to NOT be able to see the 10 and 20 split in the 40 yard dash. Do you kno if they post it anywhere? I personally want to see the 10 and 20 not so much the 40 time. I know they time it because you can hear the beeps at the 10 and 20. So it must be posted somewhere right?
I can't find it so maybe it only available to the teams.

Curt said...

I want to know about the 10 and 20 split for the 40 yard dash for the BIG guys. The OL and DL.

Ben said...

@SD - I'd be pretty unhappy if we took Williams before the 40th pick. He looks like a pure RT and we've got much greater need at LT. I was just thinking that it would be funny if the team that drafted Bradford grabbed Williams as well. I imagine Sam would crap himself if he thought a team would draft Williams to protect his blindside.

Ben said...

I think all of the 10/20 splits are unofficial and measured by hand by scouts/coaches.

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Bruce Campbell was absolutely amazing! He is on the top of my list of tackles to draft. I stand in awe. I did not realize how athletic this man is. He is a freak'n BEAST! He and Iupati would be my dream team on the left side. I also wouldn't mind Trent Williams either. This guy was very impressive.

Rob Staton said...

Curt - I'll see if I can find the splits. People always talk about the splits being a greater benefit on offensive lineman and the bigger DL's.

Kuya said...

The top OL combine performer today was clearly Bruce Campbell. He has all the measureables for a prototypical LT. But that doesn't necessarily translate to success in the NFL. His game tapes, injuries and lack of experience as a LT show true inconsistency and technique... something not tolerated in the NFL. He does have the highest ceiling - you cannot teach what he accomplished today at the combine. This would be an "Al Davis or Dan Syder" pick all the way.

Charles Brown solidified my opinion about him. He is a natural knee bender and possess light feet as you can see in the mirror drill as well as the kick slide drill. He clearly fits the ZBS and can double up as an elite blind slide protector.

Bryan Bulaga also solidified his stance as a top 5 OL. One thing that stood out about Bulaga is that he is a technician. Although he doesn't possess the elite athleticism as his competitors, he does everything well. He is obviously well coached and has ample experience. He does have shorter arms, which is a trouble spot to be a top LT. To me, Bulaga is almost maxed out of his potential. He would fit the ZBS, but I think that he would be most successful if he gets picked by a team that needs to add a piece to an already good line, not a line that is to be built around him.

Who impressed me the most were lesser known names like Ducassee, Veldheer, Saffold, and Petrus. Keep those names handy in the later rounds.

Rob Staton said...

Some very good points there, Kuya. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

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