The 2014 NFL Combine has come and gone for the five former Utah Utes that participated in Indianapolis this past weekend. It will be remembered for the mostly high points and one disappointment that left Ute fans wanting more. Keith McGill and Tenny Palepoi stole the show, Jake Murphy was incredibly consistent, Anthony Denham impressed where he could and Trevor Reilly left us all wondering what if.
A player-by-player breakdown of the participants is below, along with a prediction for each. You can also view the combine results for each Utah player here.
32.25" Arm Length
9.5" Hand Size
26 Reps on Bench Press
Trevor Reilly is arguably one of the greatest to ever don the drum and feather. Reilly played an entire season with a torn ACL and who (post Travis Wilson) was without question the most important player on the Utes roster last year. Unfortunately he wasn't cleared medically to participate in the workouts due to precautions on his surgically-repaired knee. The plan going to Indy was that Trevor would participate in the drills and when he wasn't cleared the day he was supposed to compete a few red flags were raised. Trevor made the right decision to not run and risk injury, but when everyone thinks you are going to compete, then aren't cleared and "can't," teams become leery and rightfully so (see Star Lotulelei 2013).
What Trevor is hoping to have happen is exactly what happened with Star about this time last year- become completely cleared medically and show up at Pro Day and back-up what was accomplished on the field his senior season. His productivity and game film alone makes him worth a second or third round pick. His age (26) and lingering knee issues make some teams wonder whether they should take him off their boards completely, or wait to the mid to late rounds to take a shot.
I fully expect Trevor to have a great Pro Day on March 19 and put himself back on the radar for teams in need of a productive, versatile and NFL-ready LB. Trevor is the biggest wildcard in terms of what round he gets selected for the Utah combine attendees, but my guess is he is a fourth or fifth round pick come May. The fan in me wants to say third round, but I think it will ultimately be a fourth or fifth round for Trevor. No matter the round, pick or team, I think you are looking at a contributing member to a defense right away. We all know that he, his daughter and family deserve it.
33.375" Arm Length
10.5" Hand Size
4.79 40 Yard Dash
32.5" Vertical Jump
Anthony Denham was received by combine spectators with Tweets and comments about his physical appearance - yes, the NFL Combine turned into the Anthony Denham Gun Show. AD always has been a ‘first guy off the bus' type, but people will especially take notice when it's their job to put you in spandex and judge your every curve and move. As I stated before in the forums, anything you can do to get an edge or get noticed at the combine is a good thing, quirky or not.
People took notice of AD for his physical presence and he backed it up with his performance on the field to land him on some teams' radar. I think Denham did exactly what he set out to do: he finished in the top 8 for both the bench and vertical jump and is forcing Scouts to make sure they take a look at him come Utah's Pro Day on March 19. Outside of running in the 4.5 range and leaping into the ‘absolutely you will get drafted' discussion, this is exactly what AD needed to have happen.
Best case scenario for AD is getting into the 7th round on a flyer pick, but my guess is getting an invite as an undrafted free agent. Questions will come from NFL teams on how/where he will play, because he wasn't a true TE this year, but his blocking skills and physical tools will be enough to at least get the shot he needs to get a roster spot or worst case end up on a practice squad.
31.75" Arm Length
10" Hand Size
4.77 40 Yard Dash
24 Reps on Bench Press
Jake's NFL Combine Performance was just like his performance on the field this season: incredibly consistent, delivered when needed, and solid throughout. Every drill and competition that Jake competed in he finished in the top seven. Every. Single. One. He wanted to beat a 4.8 in the forty and did that with a 4.77. He wanted to make sure people knew he was both strong and quick so he went and put up 24 reps on the bench and followed it up with the second fastest 20 Yard Shuttle time from a TE at 4.27 seconds. Jake Murphy did everything he was asked to, and needed to do. Tell me if you haven't heard that before.
He also made sure to Tweet out to Ute Nation how much he appreciated the support and said thank you multiple times for the coverage and fan support he had received. This guy is going to own the interview room with teams and owners. For as good as he was in the drills in Indy, I bet he was even better behind closed doors. He's the guy you want doing an interview after a game, talking to the press after a practice and doing the local community outreach events. His skill-set, coupled with that side of who Jake Murphy really is as a person, makes him a gotta-have guy.
Best case scenario for Jake is getting the front office in Atlanta to fall in love with him during the interview process and bring Jake and his family back to the city his dad played in and loved. The storyline alone is worth it for Atlanta to take Jake and make him a Falcon, right? At the end of the day I see Jake ending up in the fifth or sixth round, and whether it's Atlanta or not, I think you will see him catching balls for TDs on Sundays next season.
30.5" Arm Length
9.875" Arm Size
31 Reps on Bench Press
111" Broad Jump
To even be invited to the NFL Combine this year all Tenny had to do was fill in the shoes of the best DT in the country from 2012 - a top 14 NFL Draft Pick, and sure-up a defensive line that was also losing two other guys to the NFL. No way that would happen, right? Wrong. Tenny did that and then some.
When Joe Kruger surprised us all last year and declared for the draft Tenny's job immediately got more difficult. No big deal for Tenny- he performed this year and earned the invite to Indy. That's the first thing you need to know about Tenny. He did all of that and did it very, very well.
The next thing you need to know about Mr. Palepoi is that he worked his tail off to get ready for the combine and it really showed. He finished in the top 15 for bench, broad and vertical jump. What was even more impressive than those numbers was his footwork, hips and fluidity through the defensive line drills. I've seen multiple people say he had one of the top 5 DT performances at the combine and a lot of that has to do with the opinion side of the draft, the stuff you can't measure with a stopwatch.
If you ask Utah fans a year ago if he is able to do all of that and end up where he is at now, I'm not sure if many of them, if any, say yes.
Best case scenario for Tenny is he rides his stellar combine performance to a 7th round pick for a team that needs a solid DL rotational player. Pre-combine Tenny was in the undrafted free agent pool, but after having the showing he did he's now in the ‘we gotta take our last pick and draft this guy' discussion. Worst case is that he will get (multiple) options to make a roster next year and sign somewhere as an UFA.
33.25" Arm Length
10.25" Hand Size
39" Vertical Jump
129" Broad Jump
For a guy who was light on interceptions this past season, Keith sure did know how to steal the show in Indy. McGill measured in as the tallest DB, had the longest arms, biggest hands, and finished in the top 10 in the forty yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump and 20 yard shuttle. Keith jumped into the national scene midway through his senior season with his opportunities to go up against the best the Pac-12 had to offer. His move from S to CB is well documented, and you could argue that from the first game of the season to today he has done nothing but got better- a trend teams love to see. A solid Senior Bowl performance also helped Keith into the national spotlight and when his number was called on Monday he stepped up in a big way.
NFL scouts and analysts oohed and awed over his measurements, ball skills, ability to catch away from his body and how he broke on the ball. Timing is everything in this business and hearing non-stop the Richard Sherman and ‘Seahawk style secondary guy' comparisons have Keith in a great spot to get paid come May 8.
Best case scenario for Keith is having one team fall so in love with his measurements that they take a shot and go with him in the late first round. Worst case is a room full of scouts over-analyze his 3 Cone Drill, lack of INTs as a senior, the time he's really spent playing as a corner and he slips to the late third or early fourth. My guess is he is firmly planted in the second round- his upside and ceiling is very high. NFL teams are on the big, physical DB that can play man-coverage bandwagon and Keith will gladly ride that bandwagon all the way to the bank.
Outside of the Trevor Reilly knee situation, it was a great combine for the future #UtesInTheNFL members. No one was a huge disappointment or completely flopped. Hats off to the Utah Coaching and Training Staff, agents, trainers, etc. to have them ready to compete and perform. I think four of the five combine attendees will be drafted and seven have a shot to make it next season (add Karl Williams and Vyncent Jones). Only time will tell- so let the speculating/debating/wishing/hoping/analyzing/arguing begin!
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