Chicago Combine Evaluations

The final combine of the season took place in Chicago at the College of DuPage on Saturday. Many of the Midwest's top prospects were there, including several on the Wolverines' radar.

With this particular combine being held in Illinois, it was no surprise to see several of the state’s finest decide to participate. Montini Catholic DT Garrett Goebel was the highest rated player in attendance and he was able to justify that lofty ranking. He was very mobile and showed good feet in drills. It was also good to see a player as highly regarded as him, with not necessarily much to gain out there competing and giving 100%. Even though he didn’t have far to go up, he raised his stock in my book.

Another touted line prospect from Illinois was Graham Pocic. Though he did not test, Pocic looked good in drills in 1-1s showing better footwork and athleticism than the last time GBW saw him at the Army Junior combine. Without the jet lag this time, Pocic was the most impressive offensive lineman there. But he wasn’t the only one that caught the attention of scouts. Detroit Crockett C Donald Mathis had a good Cincinnati combine and definitely had his moments in Chicago. Now 17-lbs. lighter than he was a month ago, Mathis looked lighter on his feet. He reported to us that he will be attending the Michigan Summer camp with hopes of earning an offer.

The state of Michigan was well represented with over 30 prospects in attendance. Two of them went toe to toe in one of the best match-ups of the day. Detroit Southeastern WR Fred Smith came into the day as the top wide receiver and left as maybe the MVP of the combine. As a result, he was the target of lots of call outs and trash talk from the defensive backs. One of those was Highland Park CB Jonathan Dandridge. Dandridge had a great combine and has been a hot prospect lately as he has earned a handful of scholarship offers in recent weeks. Still, in their only 1-1 match-up Smith beat Dandridge badly on a post corner, leaving the athletic defensive back standing still. Smith has great route-running skills and showed impressive athleticism for a wide receiver with his size. He showed me today that he could be more than a possession receiver at the next level. He has enough straight line speed and plenty of agility. He did drop a couple of passes due to lack of concentration, but made a couple of very difficult grabs.

Dandridge was good in 1-1s and also showed good awareness in zone coverage during 7-7s. His recovery speed isn’t top notch, but his aggressiveness, size and instincts are. Another defensive back drawing rave reviews was DeSmet Jesuit (MO) CB Robert Steeples. On a slow track where most of the 40s were slower than expected, he ran a very solid 4.53 and was excellent in 1-1 coverage. Receivers were having trouble getting off the line against his tough press coverage and he did a good job on Smith. In fact, Steeples was the only one able to slow down the talented receiver on the day.

Another DeSmet Jesuit prospect who looked good was TE Wes Kemp. The big man worked out with the wide receivers and did not look out of place. He used his size well and played physical football. He also caught the ball impressively. He mentioned that he has had close contact with Michigan and is thinking an offer may be coming. We’ll have more on him in the coming days.

Lastly, we uncovered a few more in-state sleepers to watch. Ann Arbor Huron WR Daryl Gooden had a strong Michigan summer camp a year ago and followed that up with a good combine in Cincinnati. He caught the ball well in Chicago and ran nice routes, but must improve at getting off the press. Detroit Crockett WR/CB Valtorrey Showers was one of the fastest players at this combine, running a 4.50 and finishing second in the race of the players with the four fastest forties. He also made several nice plays in 1-1s and 7-7s, showing good quickness and recovery speed as a corner and knack for making plays at wide receiver. A recent recipient of a Central Michigan offer, he is one to keep an eye on. His teammate, DE/OLB Shelton Gaines was a player we were looking forward to scouting first hand, but an injury forced him to sit out the one-on-ones.

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