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MORSE: Thoughts on the Upcoming NFL Draft Combine, Ben Coates Honored

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
3 months ago at 8:49 am ET
Posted Under: 2022 NFL Draft

MORSE: Thoughts on the Upcoming NFL Draft Combine, Ben Coates HonoredJerry Lai - USA TODAY Sports

2022 NFL Draft Combine

The annual Underwear Olympics is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, March 1st in Indianapolis.  Next year the league is putting the Combine out for bid (more money for the owners).  There are 324 invited players to the combine this year.  This is what the Combine entails:

Medical Exams:  Each player is poked and prodded by medical teams.  They want to check on previous or undetected or reported injuries.  In the case of former Patriot O-lineman Marcus Cannon, they detected cancer.  Cannon a potential 1st round selection fell all the way to the 5th round where the Patriots took him.  He was treated for testicular cancer and cleared to play by the start of the season.

Drug Testing:  A positive drug test can drop a player down or completely out of the draft if they are a marginal player.

Height, Weight, Arm Length, Wingspan, and Hand Measurements:  Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett is leary of the Hand Measurement because he is perceived to have small hands.  The reason is that his thumbs are double jointed and he doesn’t get an accurate measurement.  Short arms on Offensive and Defensive linemen are negative.  Former BC and Patriots D Lineman had short arms.  It helped him in weight lifting, but within a few years, he was out of the league.

Remember the picture of Tom Brady from the 2000 Combine.  I wouldn’t have drafted him off that picture!

Weighlifting: Each player is tested to see how many repetitions they can lift.  The weight on the bar is set at 225 lbs.

Wonderlic Intelligence Test:  Set of 50 questions the players have 12 minutes to answer.  Pat McInally the former Bengals punter from Harvard is the only player known to have a perfect score.  In the 2020 draft, Tua Tagovailoa had the lowest score for QB at 13, whereas Joe Burrow had the one of highest at for all players at 34.  The Wonderlic scores are supposed to be kept secret, but somehow get leaked.

Some of the all-time high scores belong to Mike Mamula with a 49, former Patriot TE Ben Watson scored a 48, along with Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and Utah WR Kevin Curtis.

One of the all-time worst scores belongs to former Patriots Michael Bishop with a 10.  It was told that during a Pre-season game, Bishop is creating all kinds of excitement with his scrambling and the ability to avoid sacks and extend plays.  The reality was that Bishop didn’t know the plays and was calling plays in the huddle from his college playbook at Kansas State.  The receivers would just run around until they got open and Bishop would scramble buying them time to do so.

Broad Jump:  Measures explosion

Vertical Jump: essential for WRs and DBs trying to defend against bigger receivers

Short Shuttle:  Also called the 5-10-5 run.  Measures lateral quickness in a confined space

3-Cone Drill:  Is an L-shaped run that measures quickness.  The Patriots put tremendous emphasis on the results of this drill for DBs, WRs, and RBs

Interviews:  Possibly the most important part of the Combine.  Players give 15-minute interviews to a team.  The teams have requested the interviews and they are conducted in the hotel rooms.   An air horn blows and that signals the end of that period and the player moves on to the next team.

The NFL avoided a boycott of the Combine when they rescinded a late edict that would create a “COVID Bubble” like atmosphere.   They wanted to limit the access to the players by extra personal entourage they had (ie massage therapist, nutritionist etc).  13 agents and their 155 clients threatened to boycott all but the medical exams.  The league thought better and changed their minds, reverting back to the original rules.

Players That Need a Good Combine

Offensive

QB Matt Coral Mississippi – Didn’t perform as well as he wanted at the Senior Bowl practices and game.  Needs a bounce-back performance

QB Malik Willis Liberty  – Needs to follow up an OK performance at Senior Bowl.

RB  James Cook Georgia – as a Junior, he couldn’t play in the college all-star games.  He is Dalvin Cook’s younger brother.

RB- Breece Hall  Iowas State – Another Junior that needs this showcase to separate himself from the other RBs.  Right now no running back is projected to go in the first round.

WR Treylon Burks Arkansas  – Another Junior with great size.  Does he have the speed quickness and fluidity to run routes?

WR  Skyy Moore Western Michigan – A junior, Is his speed as good as it is reported.  He is currently ranked as a top 50 prospect.  He could jump or drop on either side of 50 depending on his speed numbers

TE Charlie Kolar Iowa State – Crowded TE class.  Speed will make a big difference with Kolar.  Can he separate?  Thought he should have come out last year.

TE Jeremy Ruckert Ohio State – Another big-time TE with the size that needs a good showing to separate himself from the crowd.

OL  Trevor Penning Northern Iowa – he put on a show at the Senior Bowl, mauling all Defensive players, all week.  Does he have the speed to elevate himself into the 1st round?

OL Daniel Faalele Minnesota – The massive (6’8” 378 lbs) RT did not have a good Senior Bowl week.  He was slow afoot, reached on his blocks, and got beat like a rug.  He needs a good combine to prevent him from dropping past the 3rd round in what is a very weak Tackle draft.

Defensive

DB Tariq Wooten University of Texas-San Antonio – he is a big (6’4” 211 lbs) Cornerback.  Does he have the speed and quickness to make it as a CB in the league?  Can he turn his hips and change direction?  These are the things he needs to prove.

S Kerby Joseph Illinois – a safety that needs to show he has the speed to play the position.  Plays like Rodney Harrison.  Would like to see him with Devin McCourty for a year.

LB Troy Andersen LB Montana State – He had a terrific week at the Senior Bowl.  He has the size, quickness, and overall athleticism to play the position.  Andersen has only played LB for a season and a half.  His numbers should be off the charts and that could move him into a top 50 spot, advancing him out of the reach of the Patriots.  As a freshman at Montana State, Andersen was a 1st team all-league QB  rushing for 1400 yards and 21 TDs.

LB Leo Chenal Wisconsin – Nobody questions his toughness or tackling ability.  Is he fast enough to cover TEs or backs?  Is he big enough?

DL Pennington Winfrey Oklahoma – Was it all show at the Senior Bowl practices or was it a very weak O-line group?  Winfrey was the defensive star that week.  No one expected to see that performance.  The Combine numbers can validate that performance.

DL John Ridgeway NT Arkansas – he got hurt in the Senior Bowl game and may not be a full participation player at the combine.  Ridgeway estimated numbers are amazing.  He is 6’6” 327 lbs and runs an estimated 5.02 40 which would be outstanding for a player of his size.

Edge Myjai Sanders Cincinnati – He had a great week in Mobile and does his numbers align with what the scouts saw on tape and at the Senior Bowl.

Edge Tyreke Smith Ohio State – Smith had a sack of QB Malik Willis during the game but was disappointing during the drills in front of the scouts.  The Combine can get Smith back on track.

Workout Warrior

This is the tale of Mike Mamula, DE Boston College, and the 1995 NFL Combine.  Back 27 years ago the Combine wasn’t what it is today.  There was no NFL Network and the combine wasn’t broadcast in its entirety.  The college players didn’t prepare for the combine but put more importance on their individual workouts and Pro Days.  That is where a relatively new player agent named Brad Blank came in and revolutionized how a player would specifically train for the combine.  His player, Mike Mamula was the perfect test subject for this.  Mamula was highly motivated to be the best he could be.  Blank obtained the assistance of trainer Mike Boyle at Boston University to train his clients for the combine.  Boyle was big into plyometrics, which is now a staple for modern training.  He and Mamula trained to the specific drills that would be run.

Mamula, a 4th year Junior is coming off a terrific season in which he had 13 sacks in the regular season and 4 more in a bowl game.  All the teams and scouts know him and he was rated a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Come time for the combine and Mamula blows the top of every drill.  He ran an unheard-of 4.58 40 yard dash for a D lineman.  He was faster than most of the DBs at the combine.   He scored a 49 on the Wonderlic intelligence test, the 2nd highest ever recorded to this day.

Come time for the draft and teams are still clamoring about Mamula.  Tampa Bay knows Philadelphia is hot to trot on Mamula.  Tampa Bay wants to trade back and they trade the #7 pick to Philly for #12 and 2 – 2nd round picks.  Philly takes Mamula and Tampa Bay selects Warren Sapp who has dropped because of Marijuana rumors.  Mamula plays 6 seasons and is a bust, out of the league in 2000.

That is why you don’t get too excited about workouts at the combine that exceeded your expectations.  On the other hand, poor performance at the combine can sink a player too.   Players today quit school after the final regular-season game and start working at any number of camps that train specifically for the Draft Combine.

Congrats to Ben Coates

I forgot to mention in my article earlier this week about the HBCU Legacy Bowl, that former Patriots great Ben Coates was elected into the HBCU Hall of Fame.  They honored Coates and others at halftime of the game.  Coates played at Livingstone College.


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Posted Under: 2022 NFL Draft


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