Monday, December 29, 2014

Winners and losers of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL combine is over and mock drafts around the nation have been shaken to their core. Favorites have fallen, sleepers have shone and Under Armour is already hard at work to make next year's workout uniforms even tighter.

Winners and losers of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

Should the Eagles spend the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft to get Geno Smith? (Michael Conroy/AP)
Should the Eagles spend the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft to get Geno Smith? (Michael Conroy/AP)

The NFL combine is over and mock drafts around the nation have been shaken to their core. Favorites have fallen, sleepers have shone and Under Armour is already hard at work to make next year’s workout uniforms even tighter.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers of the 2013 combine:

WINNERS

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - With the second-fastest 40 time among all cornerbacks (4.37), Milliner silenced those questioning whether he had the speed to be a top-flight NFL cornerback. After his combine performance, he’ll be not only the first cornerback taken, but one of the first 10 selected. Milliner’s combine performance came while he was battling a labrum injury in his shoulder, which will require surgery before the draft.

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - Johnson said he was the “most athletic tackle” in the draft, and looked every bit the former quarterback and tight end he is. His stock has never been higher, and teams do love to draft tackles. He’ll likely still be drafted behind Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher, but Johnson should expect his name to be called in the top half of the first round, if not top 10.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - It wasn’t an extraordinary combine effort for Smith, but it was good. With this year’s crop of quarterbacks, good goes a long way in making you the top player at your position. Smith ran a better-than-expected 4.59 40-yard dash, easing concerns that he wasn’t athletic enough to run the offense du jour, the read-option. As for the passing drills, Smith showed that he has talent but is still a work in progress. All in all, it’s probably still good enough for him to be the first quarterback selected. But where?

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU - A lot of people were expecting Ansah to wow at the combine and boost himself into the top half of the first round. For once, they were right. With the Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons ringing in his ears, Ansah ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and showed the ability to play linebacker as well. The 6-5, 271-pounder has only been playing football for two years, so he’s a bit of a project. Good thing NFL personnel men love taking credit.

Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU - Mathieu made it to the combine, which was a good sign for many, and overall proved that he was worthy of a mid-round selection as a slot cornerback and possibly a return man. He ran a 4.5 40 but managed only four reps on the bench though, driving some to worry that Mathieu did not work hard enough preparing for the combine.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU - This is a big person. The 6-8, 277-pound Estonian lineman was one of the combine’s stars, running a 4.6 40 and benching 225 pounds 38 times. Hunt could be a case of post-combine hype, but he showed enough in Indianapolis to make his move into the first round.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - Austin ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, which was needed for the 5-8 receiver. Odds are he’ll play in the slot in the NFL, but with his skills as a receiver, rusher and returner, coaches will find a way to get him the ball as much as possible. Given his stature, he won’t be the first wide receiver taken, but did solidify his status as a first-round pick.

Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon - After adding weight following the college football season, Jordan still ran a 4.6 second 40-yard dash. At 6-7, he has rare pass-coverage skills and the ability to rush the passer. Jordan likely moved himself into the top 10.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC - Barkley is suffering from the stigma of being a USC quarterback after Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez’s struggles - to say the least - in the NFL. A lot of the talk surrounding Barkley was how tall he would measure, with some talk that he was under 6-2. He came in at 6-3 though, which was a pleasant surprise to teams. A good pro day could see Barkley move up in a weak quarterback class.

LOSERS

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - Joeckel’s only sin at the combine is probably not having as good of one as his competition did. Johnson and Eric Fisher both impressed in Indianapolis, while Joeckel pretty much gave scouts what the expected. Joeckel’s still expected to be the first tackle selected, and maybe the first player overall, but that is no longer a given.

Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame - Oh boy. Te’o followed his first big media session since his fake girlfriend fiasco with a very slow 40-yard dash (4.81) for someone who’s supposed to be a quick linebacker. It’s a question now if he’ll be drafted in the first.

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M - A lot of people had Moore as a top-10 pick, but that’s not happening anymore. Moore’s combine performance was terrible, with just 12 reps on the bench and a 4.95-second 40-yard dash, during which he also hurt his hamstring.

Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford - The knock on Ertz at the combine is that he has short arms, a difficult thing for a tight end. While he’s still one of the top players at his position, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert distanced himself from Ertz at the combine with better performances in almost every drill, including longer arms.

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - It’s certainly out of Lotulelei’s control that a heart condition was discovered during his physical before the combine, keeping him from participating. However, it can’t help his draft stock, as many were saying he was a top-five pick coming in. A strong pro day performance could help Lotulelei recover his standing.

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - The German-born Werner was evoking comparisons to St. Louis’ Chris Long before the combine but didn’t show he’s quite in Long’s class. Werner ran a 4.83 40 and had the anonymous scouts labeling him “nothing special.” Though he may not have top upside, he should still be a first-round pick.

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