Combine Notes: Friday 2/21
Some fantasy-relevant nuggets from the NFL Combine
As a fantasy football writer, I have to say that I was the proverbial pig in slop at the Combine today. Good information all over the place ... straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ll get into this with Jim Hackett in next week’s podcast, so check that out. I'll post a link to it on Rotobahn.
Here are the most fantasy-relevant bits from today.
I was able to sit down for a few minutes with Wyoming WR Robert Herron. I asked him about his brief stint at RB back in 2010. He said that his time as a tailback was out of necessity because the Cowboys had so many injured running backs that year, and that he was always a receiver in high school. He went on to say that he gained some things from the experience. Herron said that "playing tailback improved my vision." He also said that he loved knowing when he was going to get the ball. Herron disputes the idea that he has trouble with the jam, and we agree. The former Cowboy said that, while he hadn’t played outside much until this final season, he feels "very comfortable out there."
Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews was cryptic when asked about what he might run in the 40 on Sunday. The big bodied receiver simply said “I have a goal.” When we asked him in private what his “goal” was, he gave a slightly more specific response ... “fast.” I’ll tell you what, if he does run fast, he’s going early -- maybe even the first round.
I asked Towson RB Terrance West what his biggest challenge at the next level would be. He was quick with his response. “Pass protection. I did not do much of it in high school, so it’s still something I’m working on.” West is a little green in terms of his all-around game, but he’s a poised kid with a whole lot of confidence and NFL measurables. He also said that he's always had good hands. West could be a story if he performs well on Sunday.
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant sounded very confident that he would impress with his speed on Sunday and after looking at his film, we agree. Bryant’s Rotobahn scouting report is coming up some time next week. When I asked Martavis what skill he needs to improve, he said “staying low in and out of my breaks and sinking my hips.” He was one of the more humble players we saw all day.
We caught a few minutes of Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks when he was at the podium. He was extremely confident as we expected. “There’s a lot of great wide receivers in this class, definitely,” said Cooks. “I feel like I’m the best and that’s what I’m going to go out there tomorrow and prove.” He went on the say the he could run in the 4.3 area. If he does that, he is a lock first rounder.
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde was quite a character on the podium. He described his running style in a single word.... “violent.” The former Buckeye went on to say that he likes to run over and through would-be tacklers. He then indicated that once you’ve run a few defenders over, it’s easier to make them miss. I am not about to argue with him. When asked if he was the best back in the class, he said “yeah.”
Arizona tailback Ka’Deem Carey was refreshingly honest when he was asked about being a running back in today’s NFL. He said that he’d have switched to corner if he’d known that running backs rarely made first round money. "Why didn't you all tell me this a couple years ago ... that running backs were going extinct? I'm definitely OK with it, and I'm just trying to bring it back and show that we're definitely valuable. But I definitely would have went to corner or something." Carey is another very confident kid and when we post his scouting report, you’ll know why ... if you don’t already. He’s an impressive runner.
When I asked Kent State tailback Dri Archer whether he saw himself as a two-position player, he said "definitely." He's a soft-spoken young man but he doesn't lack confidence as he predicted that he'd break Chris Johnson's record in the 40. Archer repeatedly indicated that he is ready to play whatever role his future team wants him to play and he handled all the questions about his diminutive stature with poise.
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk sounded like a player that was not going to be satisfied with moderate success. When I asked him to isolate a skill that he wanted to improve, he said “all of them.” When I pressed him for a specific, he said, “nope, all of ‘em.” If he’s true to his word, he could be a player to own in dynasty and could potentially be a redraft target as well. We'll have to see where he lands.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel was poised at the podium and did a good job with most of the questions. He said he’s ready for the next level and that he understands that the stakes are raised. The biggest news on Manziel today was his hand size, which was bigger than Blake Bortles. The future first rounder said, "I'm probably one of the most competitive people on the face of the earth." And, he is not lacking in confidence, but he is throwing in a dash of humility these days. Most of the people I talked to were impressed with the former Aggie.
Miami QB Stephen Morris, who we like a whole lot as an upside project, gave me an interesting nugget. I asked about his inconsistency with his release and the former Hurricane told me that he’s been working on his footwork a lot since the season ended. Morris went on to say that he battled an ankle injury for much of 2013. This affected his play and ability to focus on his footwork at practice. He says that he’s now “95 percent” and he won’t be making any excuses about his results. He sounds confident. He also said that he’d be very open to sitting behind a great QB in 2014. Morris said that he’d "welcome the opportunity" to learn from the best. Of course, he’s also more than willing to start. Morris is still growing as a quarterback, but he has starter’s upside at the next level.
I asked 49ers GM Trent Baalke about WR Quinton Patton’s rookie year and whether he was able to develop like a typical rookie given his two significant injuries (hand/foot.) Baalke indicated that Quinton had taken to the 49ers’ system well and is one of the hardest workers on the team. Then I asked the GM whether they expected more out of tight end Vance McDonald in his second season, and Baakle indicated that McDonald had been given a lot of responsibility as a rookie and that more was expected out of him next year as an offensive threat. If the Jim Harbaugh-to-Cleveland rumors had been out earlier, Baalke's presser would have been dominated by that story.
I asked Cardinals HC Bruce Arians about the health of Andre Ellington’s knee and he said it was a “non-issue.” He also indicated that the Cardinals OL will be better in 2014 and that it was an offseason priority. That’s all good news for those who own Ellington in long term formats. Arians is an impressive no-nonsense guy. The quality of football in the NFC West is going to be through the roof next year.
I’ll be posting reports from Indianapolis on Saturday and Sunday as well.
2014 Scouting Reports:
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A & M
- Dustin Vaughan, QB, West Texas A & M
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
- Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
- L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
- Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
- Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
- Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
- Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
- 2018 Rookie Ranks
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- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 16 Part Deux