With so much of the focus on players like Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, Julio Jones, and Patrick Peterson (did I mention Cam Newton yet?), I thought it would be more beneficial to review the performances of some of the lesser known names from this year’s draft class. Here is a breakdown of several workouts from this week that seemed to slide under the radar.
RBs – Delone Carter, Syracuse and Allen Bradford, USC
While neither back lit the world on fire with their workouts, both ran 40s in the mid 4.5s, and in doing so probably solidified themselves as day two picks. The NFL is full of mid to late round RBs that have become excellent starting backs, and Carter and Bradford have the combination of power and short area quickness to become that caliber of player.
Jordan Cameron, TE USC
After the immense success of Antonio Gates in San Diego, teams are now always on the lookout for the next big basketball player-turned NFL stud. Last year it was Jimmy Graham from Miami, who became a key part of New Orleans’ high powered offense by December of his rookie year, and this year Cameron may be that guy. After a big East West shrine week, Cameron blew up at the combine, showing the elite athleticism at the position that today’s NFL craves. Despite having very little football experience, don’t be surprised to see him squeak into the end of day 2 of this year’s draft.
Derek Newton, OT Arkansas State
Newton wasn’t a very physical player on film, but I expected him to show off his athleticism at this year’s combine. Newton delivered, running a 5.01 40 and showing off impressive balance and leverage on drills. He goes from being a priority free agent to a draftable prospect, which is huge considering the uncertainty behind how the league will handle UFAs in light of the CBA conflict.
Ryan Bartholomew, OC Syracuse
Despite being a lesser known prospect Bartholomew came into this year’s combine well prepared, posting the top bench press for offensive linemen and a sub-5.0 40, as well as some of the top numbers across the board at his position for the remaining drills. While his performance certainly turned heads, he does not have the film to match, and should still remain a day 3 selection.
Jabaal Sheard, DE Pittsburgh
The more I watch Sheard the more I believe he belongs amongst the top 15 players of this year’s draft class. At the combine he quietly ran an impressive 4.69 40 and looked athletic in drills. If he can convince teams his off the field concerns (he was arrested after throwing a man thru a glass door last summer) are a thing of the past, he could hear is name called much earlier on April 28th than some are expecting.
John Clay, RB Wisconsin
While Clay lost a reported 40 lbs and weighed in at 230, he ran as slow as most of the fullbacks at 4.87 on his 40 yard dash. Despite the drastic weight cut, he still looked slow and plodding on drills. In all likelihood he will need to move to fullback if he is to play in the NFL.
Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin
Carimi was the only lineman to fall during drills, and considering his issues on film the incident should not be dismissed as quickly as some of the NFL Network analysts did. At Wisconsin Carimi looked extremely stiff at times, and had a bad habit of stopping his feet, bending at the waist and quickly falling off blocks. His all around performance at the combine did nothing to change my opinion that he is limited to right tackle only in the NFL.
Orie Lemon, ILB Oklahoma State
While teams should be reluctant to lower draft grades too far based off a poor combine performance, Lemon’s showing could cause him to fall off draft boards completely. He ran a pedestrian 4.99 40, but more importantly struggled mightily in positional drills, as he literally stumbled and bumbled throughout his workout. He needs a big pro day in order to prove that his combine performance was simply an off day.
Jeremy Beal, OLB Oklahoma
At this year’s Senior Bowl week I felt that Beal struggled to stand out athletically over players like Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, and this was even more apparent while on the clock at the combine. For a player that is expected to be a 3-4 rush linebacker, he simply lacks the burst and all around athleticism to be a consistent threat rushing the passer.
Kendric Burney, CB North Carolina
This was never going to be Burney’s arena, as on film he clearly lacks the long speed and natural athleticism of a starting NFL corner. However, running in the 4.7 range usually proves to be a killer for CBs, especially when you take into account his lack of size. Although he demonstrates toughness and instincts with his on the field play, expect him to fall to day 3 unless he improves his time significantly at his pro day.
Josh Liskiewitz has been an independent scout for four years, the last two with GM Jr as a college scout. He is a self professed "film junkie," watching upwards of 50 hours of film per week year round on hundreds of NFL prospects. He credits Russ Lande, former NFL scout and founder and president of GM Jr Scouting LLC, with aiding in the development of his foundation in scouting and unique perspective on football.
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