Indianapolis, IN – The “Underwear Olympics” get started in earnest today, as the prospects who have been invited to the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine will begin their on-field drills. After spending the week in team interviews, getting physicals and meeting with the media, it likely comes as a welcome relief.
The Denver Broncos are at Lucas Oil Stadium in full force, as they scout the collective prospects, looking for players who fit the mold of what their needs are, and what they’re looking for in a Bronco. So far this week, we’ve focused on Derron Smith (FS), T.J. Clemmings (OT), and Tyler Sambrailo (OT), as prospects to watch at the Combine and guys who could help the Broncos.
One safety and two offensive tackles have made our list so far. The Broncos, as a roster, do not have many holes. General Manager John Elway has done a phenomenal job in constructing the roster, since he joined the team in 2011. But as Elway mentioned yesterday in his presser, offensive line is certainly an area they’d like to get better at.
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With 19 pending free agents to contend with, another position the Broncos will be looking hard at is safety. With both Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter set to become unrestricted free agents in March, the team must develop a contingency plan. It’s also Elway’s duty to always look for ways to improve the roster.
One guy who could do that is a safety out of Northwestern; Ibraheim Campbell. Campbell measures in at 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds. He played at 218 pounds for most of his senior year, but as he told me in Mobile, AL, he slimmed down some in preparation for the Senior Bowl and Combine.
Campbell is a ferocious hitter and downhill thumper. Watching him in Mobile in his practices with the North Squad, he brought a physicality that jumped off the field. You could tell he was just itching to hit someone, but in practice, they don’t do much hitting.
“I’m looking forward to the game,” Campbell told me in Mobile. “I’m looking forward to when we can hit somebody.”
“I think that’s a strength of mine,” Campbell told me. “I pride myself on my versatility. I can hit, as well as cover. I like being back there and catching interceptions, as well as coming downhill and making the big hit. I can do both.”
Although he could use a some polishing in coverage (pro coaching will help), I must concur with Campbell that he is versatile and can be a great asset to whichever NFL team drafts him. As a four-year starter at Northwestern, he intercepted 11 passes, to go along with 24 pass break-ups, despite missing 5 games his senior year, and 6 career forced fumbles.
"I struggled a little bit coming out of my junior year,” Campbell told me, “so I had to prove something my senior year and wasn’t able to complete the whole season, due to injury, but I proved enough, obviously, to get me here (Senior Bowl) and I’ve continued to prove that.”
Going into the Combine, most draftniks have Campbell with a mid-round grade. Scout.com’s leading draft guru, Dave-Te Thomas, has a fifth-round evaluation on him. However, with a great showing at the Combine this weekend, Campbell can improve his stock and maybe even push himself into the second or third round conversation.
He has the talent and an aura of a competitor, but he is raw and could use some pro-coaching to polish him up. Growing up just outside of Philadelphia, I asked him what players he idolized growing up.
“I wasn’t a big fan of any particular team,” Campbell said, “so I watched a lot of film on Brian Dawkins from Philly and Earl Thomas, Sean Taylor, those kind of guys. I model my game after them.”
Campbell has a long way to go to stand in the same shoes as the guys he grew up watching, but he has the raw talent to get there. Although he played some free safety in college, he projects more as a strong safety in the “robber” role in the NFL.
The Broncos have one of the league’s best strong safeties in T.J. Ward. But Campbell, dare I say, has the versatility to perhaps become a better cover artist than Ward is today. With the injury-plagued Quinton Carter unlikely to return to the Broncos, the team could use a versatile safety, comfortable at free or strong safety.
Keep a close eye on Campbell at the Combine. I’m particularly interested to see what his 40-yard dash and 10-yard split times are. If he can show the requisite speed and explosion that NFL teams are looking for, it will bode well for his draft stock.