The 2014 NFL Combine has come and gone, and now we are met with over two months of speculation, mock drafts and copious amounts of signature Mel Kiper hair gel. Six former Ducks showcased their talents at this year's combine in preparation for May's NFL draft. It was a busy weekend, so let's take a look at how everyone fared.
Facing high expectations, especially in the 40-yard dash, De'Anthony Thomas didn't quite live up to the hype this weekend. Thomas ranked tied for 11th in the 40-yard dash, along with Auburn's Tre Mason, with an official time of 4.50. Many had predicted that time should've been closer to the 4.3 range. Personally, I expected Thomas to rank somewhere among the top-5 with a time around 4.35. He had clocked an unofficial time of 4.34, but any unofficial results were hand-timed, usually a bit faster than the official times.
Thomas is a small little dude, so it comes as no surprise that his eight bench press reps ranked last among running backs. Doubtful that too many teams are concerned about his strength, though.
Thomas' 32-inch vertical was also nothing to write home about. Only five running backs had smaller verticals than Thomas. Baylor's Lache Seastrunk leaped nearly 10 inches higher than Thomas with a position-best vertical of 41.5 inches.
With a broad jump of 124 inches, Thomas missed out on a top-5 spot among running backs by just two inches. Once again, Seastrunk led the way with a broad jump of 134 inches.
NFL.com gave Thomas a player rating of 5.49, which falls right at the cusp between "backup or special teams potential" and "chance to become NFL starter." Personally, I put him in the special teams category. I think he will be a Devin Hester type player for a team that is looking for an extra boost on special teams. He'll have one breakout season when he returns kickoffs and punts for touchdowns seemingly at will before falling back into the shadows. I just can't picture him as anything else other than a special teams guy. He might get a chance at the slot wide receiver position, but that'll most likely be a short experiment that will fall flat.
Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla turned some heads in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.61 seconds, good enough for third among tight ends. Lyerla left Indianapolis with some extra cash as well, raking in $10,000 from adidas for turning in one of the top times in the 40 while wearing its adizero 5-star 40 cleat.
We didn't expect Thomas to shine in the bench press. Lyerla was a different story. I mean, this is Oregon's Bane we're talking about here. The guy looked like he could move a couch with his left pinky finger. Unfortunately, Lyerla's 15 bench press reps ranked last among tight ends, nearly 20 reps less than Dixie State's Joe Don Duncan, who led all tight ends with 34 reps.
Lyerla did turn in the best vertical jump among tight ends at 39 inches, four inches higher than the next best tight end in the drill.
Lyerla also tied with Tennessee State's A.C. Leonard for the best broad jump at 128 inches, eight inches further than the next best competitor.
Aside from the bench press, Lyerla had a rather successful weekend in Indy. Of course, Lyerla also has the most red flags among any Oregon prospect. His recent criminal record and history of controversial comments are major causes for concern. On his player profile on NFL.com, Lyerla is described as "overly emotional and prone to outbursts." His troubles off the field will probably cause him to fall to the later rounds in the draft, and his rating of 5.33 on NFL.com puts him in the backup category. What he needs in the league is a coach who can act as a father figure. I'm looking at you, Bill Belichick.
Lokombo had one of the faster 40 times among linebackers at 4.66 seconds, tying for sixth at his position. Closing speed was listed among his strengths as well as the potential for him to match up against tight ends and even slot receivers. Can we see him at the line of scrimmage with Colt or De'Anthony? I sense a new Facebook cover photo in my near future.
Lokombo also had a good showing in the broad jump at 122 inches, tying for fifth among linebackers. Fellow Pac-12 linebacker Carl Bradford from Arizona State turned in an identical broad jump result, while Ohio State's Ryan Shazier led the way with a jump of 130 inches.
Despite his agility being one of his strengths, Lokombo turned in average times in the 3 cone drill and 20-yard shuttle with respective times of 7.15 and 4.30 seconds. Both times put Lokombo in the middle of the field among linebackers.
NFL.com gave Lokombo a rating of 5.1 for a better than average chance at an NFL roster. As noted on his profile, Lokombo, who was raised in Quebec, could be one of the most sought out prospects in the CFL. Lokombo is projected to be a late round pick, so if he isn't scooped up in the NFL, the CFL might be calling his name this spring.
2013 Civil War hero Josh Huff had a mediocre showing in the 40-yard dash. His time of 4.51 seconds tied for 24th among wide receivers. Oregon State's Brandin Cooks led the way with a time of 4.33, the second fastest time overall at the combine.
Huff's 14 reps in the bench press ranked tied for 16th among receivers, nine reps behind Indiana's Cody Latimer who pumped out 23 reps.
In the vertical jump, Huff tied for 24th among receivers with a 35.5 inch jump, nearly six inches behind leading wideout Tevin Reese from Baylor whose 41 inch vertical ranked fourth overall among all positions.
Huff struggled in the broad jump, ranking near the bottom among receivers with a jump of 116 inches. Only five receivers had a shorter jump than Huff. With such depth in the draft at the wide receiver position,
Huff needed a big weekend at the combine, and his numbers, especially the broad jump, did nothing to help his case. NFL.com gives Huff a player rating of 5.28 to fall under the backup or special teams category. At just 5'11'', Huff's height could also be a concern, but I expect to see him go in the mid to late rounds to a team in need of a slot receiver.
2013 Second-team All-Pac 12 selection Taylor Hart was limited at the combine, only participating in the bench press. Hart suffered a broken foot in the Alamo Bowl back in December, an injury that also kept him out of the Senior Bowl. In the bench press, Hart ranked in the bottom half among defensive linemen with 21 reps. For what it's worth, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney also had 21 reps, but otherwise, Clowney and Hart are worlds apart.
Hart's injury will certainly hinder his draft hopes. NFL.com gave Hart a grade of 5.29, falling in the backup category. Expect Hart, who was described on his combine profile as being "average" and "not explosive," to be picked up in the late rounds if a team is willing to give him a chance to come back from his injury.
Mitchell elected to pass on his senior season for the NFL and was projected to be a mid-round draft pick. That projection might change however after a poor showing at the combine. Mitchell's time of 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash tied for 28th among defensive backs. Only one other participant had a slower time than Mitchell.
Mitchell's vertical jump of 34 inches ranked 25th among defensive backs, ranking again near the bottom of his position as only three defensive back's had shorter jumps. Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste led the way with a vertical jump of 41.5 inches.
The broad jump was no better for Mitchell as his 117-inch jump was tied for last among defensive backs. Lindenwood's Pierre Desir led defensive backs with a 133-inch broad jump.
Mitchell's rating of 5.25 to place him in the backup/special teams category is rather generous in my opinion. I wasn't really too sure why he left early in the first place, and the combine did nothing but hurt Mitchell's chances in the NFL. I don't expect him to be drafted at all after such a poor showing this past week. Mitchell needs to hope there's a team out there that pays more attention to his play in college rather than the combine. Still, at the end of the day, I see him as a seventh round pick at absolute best.
Overall, I wasn't too impressed by Oregon's showing at the combine. In my eyes, Colt Lyerla had the best on-field performance while the rest were mediocre at best. Thomas was a disappointment, Huff didn't turn in any eye-opening numbers, Hart was hurt and Mitchell's weekend was one he'd like to soon forget. The only other guy who had a decent showing was Boseko Lokombo with good times among his position in the 40-yard dash and broad jump. But at the end of the day, this is a group of mid to late round draft picks at best. Let me know when it's Marcus Mariota's turn at the combine.