NFL Combine 2013: 5 Players Who MUST Perform Well For Scouts
When NFL teams evaluate draft prospects, they do their best to avoid drafting players with character questions or constant injuries. Not only do these type players cost teams a lot of money upfront, but they can also set franchises back many years.
For many of the 300+ players participating in the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis, it’s essential to exceed expectations and show NFL teams they have what it takes to play in the big-time. For a few players, those with character concerns or injury problems, an exceptional showing is absolutely required.
Here are five prospects who head into the 2013 NFL Draft with one or more red flags raised about their character or their ability to remain healthy for an entire season of grueling NFL games.
The senior ILB from Notre Dame has had a horrible time since the BCS National Championship game. Not only did Manti, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, look awful in the 42-14 Alabama routing of his Irish, but his offseason drama may come back to haunt him.
Te’o was thrown into the national spotlight due to his falling for an online hoax whereby he was forced to acknowledge he had fallen in love with a nonexistent woman invented by another man. Before the scandal, Te’o was considered a lock for a first-round pick. Now, however, his stock has dropped to the point where the projections have him going possibly as low as the second or third round.
LSU’s troubled shutdown cornerback has had a rockier road than most getting to the Combine. Two seasons ago, the sophomore Mathieu won the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. While his aggressive play on the field garnered him the nickname “Honey Badger,” his off-field antics provided him with a new title – inmate.
Mathieu was kicked off of his college team due to repeated drug testing failures. After a stint in rehab, Tyrann was allowed back onto LSU’s team to only be kicked off again after an arrest for possession of marijuana in Baton Rouge. Mock drafts now have him drafted anywhere from round three to round seven, depending on his combine performance.
A University of Georgia safety and linebacker was recently was arrested and charged with a DUI in Arizona. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for violating the team’s substance abuse policy. The result of the incidents seriously impacted Ogletree’s draft value — he was pegged by most to be a first-round pick.
Ogletree is the total package and electric on tape, but the question remains: what team will take a chance on players with character issues?
The quarterback from WVU wowed coaches and fans alike with huge rushing and passing numbers last season. Given the play of Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson in 2012, more attention is being paid to dual-threat quarterbacks these days. The ability for these run/pass players to stay healthy is also being considered.
In a strong QB class, Smith could be a second-round pick like Kaepernick. Smith was electric with the ball in his hands. He amassed staggering statistical figures during the first half of the West Virginia season last year, but once the meat of the schedule hit and he faced stiffer competition, Smith’s numbers declined. This inconsistency may drop his status from a first to a second round pick.
The redshirt junior linebacker from the Georgia showed elite pass-rushing skills last season amassing 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles. He also recorded 85 total tackles and reeled-in two interceptions. Numbers like that turn heads. However, so do injuries.
Jones hurt his neck during his freshman season with USC, leading to his transfer to Georgia. There, doctors found that Jarvis suffers from a condition known as spinal stenosis — a serious condition which is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal that may occur in any of the regions of the spine. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, paraesthesia and loss of motor control.
While Jones’ potential is quite evident, will there be a team who’ll risk a first-round chip on someone with a degenerative disease?