NFL Combine Big Winners and Losers–By Jeff Dunbar
Each year, millions of dollars are at stake in Indianapolis, as top college players take part in testing and interviews at the NFL Combine. Depending on their performances over four-day period, these young men can literally make or lose millions of dollars based on what they show NFL scouts in this short amount of time.
This year was no different from years past as a few individuals improved their stock, while others likely took major hits to their wallets. College FootBlog breaks down six of the biggest winners and three of the biggest losers based on their combine performances.
1. Jacoby Ford (WR/Clemson): Ford stole the show on the wideout day, posting a ridiculous forty time of 4.28. At 5’9″ and 186 lbs, many experts had him pegged in the later rounds of the draft. Ford helped his stock even more by running very crisp routes, negating the criticism that he was just a return man. With his performance in the receiver drills and his forty time, Ford is now drawing comparisons to Carolina Panther All-Pro Steve Smith.
2. Taylor Mays (Safety/USC): Mays was already tabbed as a first rounder, but his 4.43 time in the forty may have moved him into the top 10. Mays has made a steady climb since the Senior Bowl, where he intercepted a pass in the game, showing critics that he is only a big hitter that he can also perform in coverage.
3. Jahvid Best ( RB/Cal): Best was right in the thick of the Heisman race before he was forced to miss several games due to a concussion. His speed has been well-documented–Best was the California state champion in the 100-meter dash as a senior with a blistering time of 10.31 seconds. That speed was on display for the pro scouts at the combine as Best posted the top time for all running backs, edging CJ Spiller by 0.02 seconds with a time of 4.35.
4. Eric Berry (Safety/Tennessee): Berry also showed out in the forty-yard dash, posting an official time of 4.47. Like Mays, Berry was already considered a first rounder, but the versatile defensive back showed a lot of confidence and great hips and change of direction in the combine drills. That, in addition to playing for defensive guru Monte Kiffin should result in a nice payday for him next month.
5. Sean Weatherspoon (ILB/Missouri): Weatherspoon continues to see his stock soar as he ran a 4.68 forty, which is very respectable for a middle linebacker. He also did an unbelievable 34 reps of 225 lbs in the bench press. This strong performance combined with his dominance in the Senior Bowl, where Weatherspoon showed cover skills to compliment his ability to close holes and make tackles will only help his stock.
6. Dekoda Watson (Linebacker/Florida St.): Watson ran a 4.52 forty and is now up to 240 lbs. FSU’s defensive captain from 2009 battled minor injuries throughout his career, but his speed off the edge and his improved muscle mass should help the OLB move higher in the third round or potentially crack the late second round.
1. Joe Haden (CB/Florida): Haden was widely considered the to DB in the draft this year, but his stock took a major hit at the combine, as he posted a very unimpressive 4.57 and followed that time up with a 4.60. Despite all the great film of Haden from his dominant days at Florida, this slow time will have a major impact on his stock.
2. LeGarrette Blount (RB/Oregon): Blount was already fighting an uphill battle due to his actions in the 2009 opener against Boise State when he KO’d Byron Hout and then had to be held back by coaches and teammates from going into the crowd to fight fans. After a solid performance at the Senior Bowl, Blount showed up at the combine looking like he was carrying some extra, unnecessary weight.
That proved to be the case when he clocked in at 4.62 and 4.69 in the forty. His 241-pound frame should help his cause, but even for a big back, 4.62 is not a solid time. Blount could have offset the less than stellar forty time with the bench press, but he managed 19 reps of 225 lbs, which is okay, but not spectacular.
3. Tony Pike (QB/Cincinnati): Pike was on a lot of scouts’ radar going into this season, but after a rather unimpressive performance at the Senior Bowl, he had a lot to gain going into the combine. After the combine, he likely dropped even lower. Pike took part in throwing drills and many scouts were unimpressed with his arm strength. Pike, who is not a physical specimen, will have to hope for a third round selection.