Monday Morning QB Column: Combine Thoughts

Thoughts on the NFL Combine as well as Auburn basketball and baseball are featured.

Check Your Coates

He didn't run in the 4.3 range in the 40-yard dash, but Sammie Coates showed plenty of athleticism, perhaps enough to make him a first round selection in this year's NFL Draft. That is because the biggest days for the Leroy native are still to come, individual workouts with pro teams and Auburn's Pro Day in March. Those are the days when teams will get their wide receiver coaches to work out Coates in person to see his hands, ability to adjust to the ball, follow directions, etc.

There is no questioning Coates' athletic ability and two runs in Indianapolis didn't do anything to diminish the take from the scouts on that. It will all come down to how well he does the most basic of jobs for a wide receiver--catching the football. Still just scratching the surface of his ability as a wide receiver, Coates is going to impress teams as much or more off the field and in today's NFL that's more important than ever.

Crazy Combine

I understand the need for combines. They happen at every level and are a good measuring stick to see the athleticism, size and explosiveness of players when compared to other guys at the same stage of their careers. For high school kids it’s a great tool because all competition is not equal, making it a crap shoot to try to rate kids from different parts of the country.

The NFL Combine is a different animal completely. Every team has scouted the players in person and most for several years. All but a small few played at the highest level of competition and teams have tape on each and every one in those games. Still teams will get wowed by watching guys run around in shorts and put stock in that more than actual game tape. There is a need for testing to make sure what you saw on film matches up with the actual physical measurements, but as the old adage goes “tape don’t lie.”

Every year someone blows away the combine physically who never did much to match those numbers in college, and every year some NFL team will draft him too high. It will happen again this year and the question remains, which player will it be when the dust settles?

Transition Season

The growing pains haven't gone away for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers following a rough week on the hardwood with losses at home to Alabama and at Kentucky on Saturday. Its the numbers game that has been the biggest thing for Auburn this season and not just in terms of guys available during the games. For a player such as Cinmeon Bowers it has meant little to no competition in practice situations, something that has kept him from taking the necessary strides forward to compete at a high level night in and night out in the SEC.

Since Auburn defeated LSU on the road things have been tough sledding for Bowers in the paint. Without much help during games and to push him in practice, the junior has made just 17-49 shots from the floor in the last five games. While he has still managed 41 rebounds in that span, he had just 12 last week while making only 7-21 shots from the floor. It’s going to be a tough final stretch for Bowers the rest of the way, but with help coming next season it should only make him stronger in his second year for the Tigers.

Important Week For Baseball Tigers

Auburn rebounded from a Tuesday loss at South Alabama to win the final four games of the week. Included in that was a sweep of Radford over the weekend as the Tigers allowed just three total runs to the Highlanders. That was the fewest runs allowed in a series since the Tigers held Elon to a single run in three consecutive wins in 2003. Rocky McCord was the pitcher of the week, striking out 10 and allowing just a run in seven innings to earn his third career win.

At the plate Anfernee Grier had a huge stretch for the Tigers, hitting .625 (10-16) with four doubles and six runs. Dating back to last season the sophomore has hit in 10 straight games. He currently leads Auburn in batting average at a .483 clip. So far the power has been supplied by junior Jordan Ebert. He homered twice this week and has three on the season, half of Auburn’s total of six in the first eight games.

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