Effects of the Combine on Gators

The Florida Gators had 10 representatives in the latest NFL combine. Some showed up and did very well for themselves, some left with some real questions about their performances, and others didn't participate at all. Here is a run down of what I think we can take from the combine and a little more to look forward to at Gator Pro Day on March 17.

Moving Up...

Quarterback Tim Tebow decided not to throw as he works on the positioning of the ball before he throws it and his foot work as a drop back passer and will show his work off at Pro Day. That sent an alarm through the combine media which was quickly silenced when Tebow did all of the agility and speed drills at the combine.

Tebow finished tops in the vertical jump (38.5")and the 3-cone drill (6.66 seconds) among quarterbacks, second in the broad jump (9' 7") and fourth in the 40 (4.72 seconds). He clearly showed he was the best athlete at the quarterback position at the combine.

However, the vast majority of the media on hand talked to many NFL team sources and these sources were floored by Tebow's persona in the interview rooms and how he carried himself throughout the combine when stalked by the media and coaches. It is something Gator fans have grown to understand about Tebow, but these NFL people that see all the biggest stars every year, were still impressed.

Tebow was at least a second rounder in my book before the combine and most teams not looking at him as a quarterback. I think even not throwing, the command he demands as a person has enlightened folks that cover and work in the pros and their perception of Tebow is changing. I think he is minimum a high second round choice now and some team is going to pick him as a quarterback. I just believe he will end up in the first round.

Center Maurkice Pouncey probably wasn't ecstatic about his 40 time (5.23 seconds), but he did his impressing in the interview portions of the combine. Pouncey didn't participate in many drills and is still nursing a shoulder injury so he didn't lift. However, the Rimington Trophy winner evidently made a huge impression among scouts and NFL administrators in interviews and has been moved up to a mid to late first round pick not usually reserved for interior offensive linemen.

Pouncey looks to go somewhere between the 16th and 25th pick as it stands right now.

Safety Major Wright surprised a lot of people with his 40 time (4.48). He finished third among all safeties at the combine. The biggest knock on Wright has been about his speed, so there is little doubt that he helped himself in that regard.

Wright was looking like a possible 4th to 5th round pick and now with the speed he looks like a high third round draft pick, in my opinion.

Status Quo...

Receiver Riley Cooper ran well with a 4.52 and is faster than that. He performed well in the drills but dropped the last two balls. Cooper made good impressions in interviews and has the physical attributes to be a big receiver in the league. He can improve his stock a little at Pro Day by running a little better and catching a little more consistent to end the drills.

Cooper has all the intangibles a team likes in a big receiver, size, strength, and tenacity. Somewhere in the late second or early third round sounds about right for Cooper

Receiver Brandon James did not participate much at the combine and will be looked at as more of a return specialist in the NFL.

A team is going to have a specific need for James and he could be selected late in the draft based on that need.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez did not participate in any drills at the combine due to back and hamstring issues. Hernandez is thought of as a late first round pick by a great deal of analysts at this time. I think he needs to have an encouraging pro day to pull that off as a tweener sized tight end.

Because of his expertise as a slot tight end, it may be a special need for a team to take Hernandez high. Analysts regard him highly and a bunch of them have him going in the first round even though I think he gets a knock for a perceived lack of strength. I will say late first round or early second round for him until he performs and runs well at pro day.

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap did about what he was expected to do at the combine. He measured in at 6'6" and 277 pounds and ran a pretty good 40 time (4.71) at that size. I have read mixed reviews on his his workouts and also the same on his interview process. One thing about Dunlap is that he is very young (20) and NFL teams know that his ceilings are a lot higher because of that youth.

I think Dunlap is getting a little bit of a knock among analysts and fans for being immature. The fact is he is only 20 years old and just turned 20 this week. I think his youth plays in his favor in the draft as teams believe they can mold the youth. I would put him somewhere between pick 12 and 20 in the first round at the moment.

Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham decided not to participate in the drills as well. He measured well at 6'3" and 266 pounds and supposedly conducted interviews with a great many NFL teams. He looks to be a low second to high third round pick right now and can bolster that with some good times at Pro Day.

Cunningham has been productive in his years as a Gator. He has a very good motor and teams see that on film. Another two inches in height and he would be a possible first rounder, but I will put him at bottom of the second to top of the third round coming out of the combine.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes also didn't work out at the combine. Count me as one that didn't think Spikes would run at the notoriously slow Indianapolis track. He skipped the 40 and the bench press and probably needs to do both and not great but decent at pro Day in order to keep his first round hopes alive.

Until he runs he is no better than a late first round pick to possibly a late second round pick being it is a deep draft. I think he could run a 4.8 at Pro Day and still see the top 22 in the draft, but he needs to run at Pro Day.

Didn't help himself...

Cornerback Joe Haden probably had the most surprising 40 time of the entire combine. His 4.57 seconds was a self reported lowest ever. Haden is/was projected to go in the top 10 and probably around the number seven pick of the first round. This will definitely make the teams picking that high look a lot closer at his film to watch and see how fast Haden plays the game. It doesn't mean they wouldn't still take him, but the scrutiny will be a lot higher because of the time.

I would be shocked if Haden didn't run faster when in Gainesville at Pro Day, but he needs to come with his game face on. Right now his top seven looks more like the fifteenth pick or so in my opinion. Getting in the 4.4's at Pro Day moves him right back up.

Florida's Pro Day will have a lot more going on as well. David Nelson, Ryan Stamper, Dustin Doe, Wondy Pierre-Louis, and Markihe Anderson should be there along with the other guys listed above working out for the pro scouts on that day. It will definitely be the most Gator players at Pro Day in quite some time.


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