It’s amazing what a fraction of a second can do for a prospects draft stock. At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, players aren’t wearing helmets, shoulder pads or mouth pieces. Instead, they are wearing sleeveless workout shirts with their positions and prospect numbers printed on them with a pair of compression shorts. The measurements the Combine produces don’t necessarily determine NFL success, but it gives coaches a reference point and puts “numbers” to largely qualitative data, such as game film and scouting reports.
We all have our favorites at the top of the draft. Sometimes we stick to our guns and sometimes the Combine changes our opinions of players and makes us re-evaluate the best options for our team going forward.
Here were our pre-combine top-5 prospects for the Rams to pick at number two:
1.) Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – The Aggie tackle was the near consensus choice for the Rams at number two prior to the combine. He is a talented, versatile and bright kid who will be a Pro Bowl caliber tackle for the next decade.
2.) Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Just before the combine the Robinson train started to gain steam. His performance in the National Championship game helped Tre Mason run all over the Florida State Seminoles to the tune of 195 yards and a score. His unbelievable strength is seen every time he lays a block. His only major question is his pass protecting ability.
3.) Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – Clowney’s stock varied as the season went on. Just before the season began he was white-hot. Everyone was tuning in just to get a glimpse of this physical specimen. As the season wore on, questions about his effort and dedication were raised, as well as possible character concerns. He was considered the consensus best player available.
4.) Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Watkin’s draft stock was sky-high going into the combine. His big play ability and his penchant for taking over games had him as the number one receiver on the board. He could this year’s Julio Jones.
5.) Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA – Barr is an athletic and explosive linebacker off of the edge that gives teams flexibility if they chose him. He could be groomed to be a premier edge rusher as a 3-4 backer or he could play traditional OLB in a 4-3 system. Like Clowney, Barr is another rare combination of size, speed and athleticism. His main critics cite his lack of physicality and his lack of production in run support.
Now that the Combine is over, let’s look at how the list has changed.
1.) Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Watkins ran a 4.43 40 and his vertical jump measured at 34 inches. Watkins looked flawless in workouts and even more hype has started to form around him. Most were not convinced that the Rams needed a WR at number two – until now. The Rams’ offense could be very explosive if they nab him.
2.) Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – The big fella ran a 4.93 40 and he lifted 32 bench reps. Robinson jumped up on my board after the combine. I like his potential, and although he is listed ahead of Matthews here, these two are neck and neck as far as I’m concerned. I would be happy seeing either one on the Rams’ line – if they are at all concerned about injured left tackle Jake Long and right tackle Joe Barksdale.
3.) Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – Matthews official 40 time was slower than Robinson (5.07) and he logged far fewer bench reps (24). As stated above, I would still be happy with Matthews on the team. Something the combine cannot measure is intelligence, and the flexibility he would provide for the offensive line would be huge. Who knows, he may even wind up playing guard if the tackle spots are solid. But who want’s to pay premier LT money for a guard?
4.) Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – We knew Clowney was fast, but his 40-time of 4.53 made jaws drop. His 37 1/2 inch vertical jump also confirmed what we already knew about the potential first overall selection. The only reason he dropped on my wishlist is because I just don’t see the Rams taking him with the current talent already on the defensive line.
5.) Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo – Barr dropped out of my top five and instead I have Mack here. The more I read about this kid the more I like him. His 4.65 40 time was good and his 40 inch vertical jump was superb. If they took Mack here (which is a bit of a reach at 2) the Rams would boast one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL in a year or two. He reminds me a bit of ex-NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman. Let’s just hope for our sake if the Rams take him he won’t have as many problems as Merriman did in the NFL.
Did your draft wish list change at all after the NFL Combine?