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MORSE: Thoughts on the 2024 NFL Draft Combine

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
March 4, 2024 at 10:57 am ET

MORSE: Thoughts on the 2024 NFL Draft Combine(PHOTO: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

I’m back after a much-needed two-week respite in Southwest Florida.

The Underwear Olympics has been completed!   The Patriots had a slew of representative at the combine including Head Coack Jerod Mayo and Director of College Scouting (defacto GM) Eliot Wolf.  Both spoke to the media last week, an obvious departure from Bill Belichick, and gave some insight into the new draft process.

Wolf is just beginning to tinker with the way the team will be drafting and scouting, getting away from the Belichick scheme of role specific drafting.  Wolf will rely heavily on the Green Bay method his father utilized and draft the Best Available athlete rather than specific needs.  As of right now they have many glaring weaknesses and Free Agency may address some of them.  The remaining will need to be addressed in the draft.  I don’t believe they can afford to use the Best Athlete Available method and must address those weaknesses in the draft.

Tua II heads list of top combine snubs … Every year one of the big questions surrounding the scouting combine is who didn’t get invited. Interesting this year, though, that it doesn’t appear if there are any real huge surprises in the players not invited to the combine.

Among those who won’t be in Indianapolis at the end of the month include QBs Taulia Tagovailoa of Maryland, the younger brother of star Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa, Jack Plummer of Louisville and Carter Bradley of South Alabama; RBs Carson Steele of UCLA, Rasheen Ali Marshall and Memphis’ Blake Watson: WRs KeAndre Lamber-Smith of Penn State and Mississippi’s Zakariah Franklin; Wisconsin OT Mchael Furtney; Clemson C Will Putnam; Wahington DT Tuli Letuliagasnea;  LBs Jackson Sirmon of California; Oregon State’s Omar Speights and Mason Cobb of USC; CBs Beanie Bishop of West Virginia and Qwan’Tez Stiggers of Toronto of the CFL; and safeties Akeem Dent of Florida State, Kenny Logan of Kansas and Trey Taylor of the Air Force.

Wide Receivers and Offensive Linemen Shine

They will dominate the top 50 players taken and that doesn’t bode well for the Patriots.  The Patriots were hoping they could snag an impact WR and OL in the 3rd and 4th rounds and draft the Best Available in rounds 1 and 2.  They need to select two of both.  The only way they can accomplish this is by trading the #3 pick for multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd round.

Nine Wide Receivers ran under 4.4 second 40-yard dash.  Xavier Worthy broke the record with a 4.21 40-yard dash.  That will push him into the 1st round, along with Marvin Harrison, Roman Odunze, Brian Thomas, Tony Franklin and Ladd McConkey.   That’s 6 WRs taken which hasn’t happened in over 10 years.  Only once has there been 7 WRs taken.  I am predicting that 8 O-linemen will be taken in the 1st round and 4 QBs.  The Patriots interviewed 6 of the top 7 QBs at the Combine.  The exception was Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.  I am assuming they passed on Penix because of his medical history.  He has had two ACL surgeries on the same knee and shoulder surgery as well.

Mark Daniels of MassLive has reported the Patriots are leaning towards drafting Heisman Trophy winning QB Jayden Daniels.  This report is speculation and unconfirmed.

Path to the Draft Goes Through Indy!

Here are some interesting stats about players drafted from the combine.  There are over 321 players that were invited including 18 from National Champion Michigan Wolverines.  A total of 35 players drafted last year, did not receive invites.

This the breakdown of players drafted versus participants from last year combine, by position:

QB 13 of 15     87%

TE                    20%

DL                    75%

DB                   67%

OL                    65%

LB                    63%

WR                  62%

RB 13 of 27      <50%

The first non-combine draftee selected in the 2023 NFL Draft was S Marte Mapu, by the Patriots in the 3rd Round.  This was another case of the Patriots and specifically Bill Belichick taking a player because of scheme fit much higher than he should have been picked.

Winners and Losers from the Combine

Winners

Xavier Worthy – WR Texas – run a 4.21 40-yard dash and you get noticed.  This just might push him into the 1st round.

Ladd McConkey WR Georgia – He backed up and outstanding Senior Bowl with a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash.   I can see him going to the Chiefs with the last pick in the 1st round.  I can’t believe they will get a player this good with the last pick.

Roman Wilson WR Michigan – As with McConkey, Wilson followed up the Senior Bowl with a 4.39 40 and a sharp one-handed catch on the sideline during drills.  This is the player I want in the 2nd round.  He will go no later than mid second round now.

Issac Guerrendo RB Louisville – Ran a very fast 4.33 at 6’ 221 lbs. His 10’9” Broad Jump and 41.5 Vertical Jump were also tops for runningbacks.  Toss in a top four 3-cone drill at 6.84 also.  Note: only 6 RB performed the 3-cone drill.  Guerrendo is an enigma, his only year of production was as a 5th year senior.  He ran for 800 yards rushing and a 6.1 YPC.

Jaylen Wright RB Tennessee – Ran a very good 4.38 40.  Wright had 700+ yards as a sophomore and followed that up with 1010 yards last year.  His 40 will elevate him.

Roger Rosengarten T Washington – He was the fastest Offensive Lineman and he will make some money from jumping from a 7th round afterthought.  His 4.92 40 was so fast that he never tried to improve on that.  He is a Right Tackle and I had him going to the Patriots before the combine.

Four O-linemen pulled hamstrings and that may have hurt them by eliminating their ability to perform field drills.  One was the number 2 OT prospect Olumuyiwa Fashanu T Penn State and fellow potential 1st round pick Amarius Mims T Texas.  He did run 5.07 on his 1st attempt, which should be good enough to keep him as a top 10 selection.

Keon Coleman WR Florida –   The big (6’3 ¼ “ 213lb) receiver ran a 4.61 40, however he was recorded as the fastest performing the Guantlet Drill at 20.36 MPH.  Last Year rookie sensation Puka Nacua ran the best time in the Guantlet in 20.06 MPH.

Dallin Holker TE Colorado State –   He didn’t have a great combine but he did make one of the more memorable plays.  He was running the Guantlet Drill which starts with the receiver from a standing start, jumping completely around and catching a pass from a thrower, then dropping the ball and jumping back to catch another ball.  Then he runs along the 50-yard line and catches another ball from one side, drops it and looks back to the other side catches/dops that ball, switches again and catches/drops another ball and finally switches again and catches the ball and runs up the sideline.  Well Holker got a little confused and kept the 5th pass and started up the sideline when he realized another ball was coming his way.  He reached out with one hand and snared the ball and took both balls with him to the end zone.

Quinyon Mitchell CB Toledo – Ran a 4.33 40-yard dash which combined with his outstanding Senior Bowl week will solidify a top 50 draft position.  He could possibly be a 1st round pick.

Daequan Hardy CB Penn State – ran a 4.38 40-yard dash.  He was a little-known slot corner, and his outstanding time will have the scouts going back and looking at his video again.

Theo Johnson TE Penn State – Is the 1st player I have seen with a perfect 10 Relative Athletic Score.  He ran the 40 in 4.57 seconds.  The question is how good a football player he is.

Losers

Audric Estime’ RB Notre Dame – ran a pedestrian 4.71 40-yard dash.  That number will get you dropped off almost every team’s draft board.

Dillon Johnson RB Washington – Same story, a 4.68 40 is pretty bad,

Dylan Laube RB New Hampshire – He had a good 3-cone time of 6.84, but his 40 was a below average 4.54 which could hurt him despite the good showing at the Senior Bowl.

Cody Schrader RB Missouri – the 5’8” 202 lb runningback led the SEC (1467 yards) in rushing but had a 4.61 40-yard dash.  His is a great story after receiving no D1 offers he attends DII Truman State for two years and puts up gawdy numbers.  He received an invite to walk-on at Missouri and jumps at it despite a higher profile transfer already there.  He unseats the transfer and goes on to become the leader of the team.

Other notes from the Combine:

The top three QBs didn’t throw, the top WR Harrison didn’t do anything but interview.  Only one TE did the weightlifting.  Only one DL, Justin Jefferson DT LSU, lifted over 30 reps.

Local players fare well

Mike Sainristil CB Michigan – Ran a 4.47 40 which is good, but he was outstanding in the Guantlet drill.  He should have as he is a converted WR.  He actually performed that drill better than most receivers. So don’t be surprised to see him playing some offense too.  Most see him as a slot corner, but I see him as a deep safety with the makeup speed to cover a lot of ground.  If the Patriots don’t sign a Free Safety in Free Agency, I could see Sainristril drafted to play there.

CJ Hanson G Holy Cross – Ran a very good 5.00 40.  He stands 6’5” 300 lbs.

Christian Haynes G Connecticut – Ran a 5.03 which is good for a player his size (6’3” 313 lb).

Christian Mahogany G Boston College – at 6’3” 314 lbs ran a 5.13

Pro Days start this week

These are the few Pro Days I know as of this writing:

March 6: Northwestern

March 7: Purdue

March 12: Oregon

March 13: Georgia

March 18: Iowa

March 19: Army

March 20: Alabama, USC

March 21: Notre Dame

March 22: Michigan

March 27: LSU, Ole Miss

March 27-30: Big 12 Pro Day

March 29: Maryland

Important Dates

March 5           Prior to 4:00 pm EST – Deadline for clubs to assign the Franchise or Transition Tag

March 11- 13  Legal Tampering Period where team can talk with potential Free Agents

March 13         League Year starts – Teams can sign Free Agents – Trading Period starts at 4:00

READ NEXT:
Patriots Face Tough Decisions to Both Not Reach at #3, But Not Miss, Either

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.


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