I pointed this out a few weeks ago when Walter had Steelers drafting ILB in the first. DL or TE would be in play as well. They could do with a really dominant NT, and depending on how they view Jesse James long term then they could be looking for Heath Millers successor.
The final day of the 2015 NFL combine is underway, but the fun's just beginning.
Here are the latest rumors swirling in Indianapolis on getaway day.
Atlanta Falcons: The Atlanta Falcons will be looking for a pass-rusher in the upcoming draft, and
during the final days of the Combine, the name of Shane Ray was constantly
associated with the franchise as their leading choice in Round 1.
Green Bay Packers: I'm told the Packers are very high on Stephone Anthony, who
would fill a need at inside linebacker. Anthony had 16 official visits at the Combine,
and the first team he met with was Green Bay. I was informed Anthony is favorite
of defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
New York Jets: It was bandied about the Internet that the New York Jets has spent a significant
amount of time with Philip Dorsett. I can confirm that to be true. Besides the Jets,
the other team who has taking a liking to the speedy wide out are the Green Bay
Staying with the New York Jets, I spoke with a league insider about the team's
free agency plans. I was told the Jets intend to be big players in free agency,
specifically on defense. I'm told they will target outside linebackers and cornerbacks
as big-ticket items. They evidently will look for younger, taller corners. Potential
free agents who fit that mold include Davon House, Chris Culliver and someone
familiar to the team's new general manager Bob Maccagnan, Kareem Jackson. I'm
told they will look to add depth on the defensive line and hope to add a mid-value
guard; someone who won't cost a lot of money. When asked if the Jets would go
after Mike Iupati, the response was, "the present belief around the league is they
won't spend $8 million for Iupati."
Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State: I presently rank Benardrick McKinney at outside linebacker, and so do a number
of teams. Sources tell me the Kansas City Chiefs are considering McKinney as a
possible replacement for Justin Houston if they lose their sack leader in free agency.
Oakland Raiders: Prior to Denzel Perryman's poor 40, there was a belief the Oakland Raiders would target the Miami linebacker in the second round. After yesterday, I don't know if that remains true.
Philadelphia Eagles: Since my posting Friday on the belief the Philadelphia Eagles are the front-runners for
Byron Maxwell, additional sources have told me they agree with the assessment and
feel Maxwell will end up with the team.
Hau'Oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington: I took a lot of heat after listing Hau'Oli Kikaha of Washington as a free agent
defensive end a few weeks ago. At the Combine, I learned a number of teams have
taken Kikaha off their board because of medical red flags and the lack of next-level
Paul Dawson, LB, TCU: Many were surprised by Paul Dawson's poor 40 time, but those who saw him at
pre-combine training were not surprised. I was told while Dawson is not foot fast,
his reaction speed has been off the charts. Dawson was one of the best they've seen
when participating in reaction drills. The bottom line is while he physically runs a
4.95 forty, mentally, he reacts at 4.3 speed.
Cedric Ogbuhei, OT, Texas A&M: When speaking of Cedric Ogbuehi's poor play last season, I was told the offensive
lineman really struggled moving from the right tackle to left tackle. The stance and
setup threw him for a loop in the early part of the campaign, but it was brought to
my attention that Ogbuehi played well on the left side late in the year.
Cleveland Browns: Finally, I'm told its not a happy situation in the Browns front office. People familiar
with the situation have compared the present situation in Berea to the one that's
taken place in San Francisco the past three years. I'm told there's a lot of dissension
in the Browns front office and people are not working well together.
A group of fast-flying pass-rushers and defensive ends work out for scouts today, and
the defensive backs take the field tomorrow to conclude the 2015 NFL Combine. And
while the media has left, we're still in Indianapolis gathering information.
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: Many were surprised Ohio State receiver Devin Smith was unable to break into the
4.3s during yesterday workout, timing in the mid 4.4s. So, what happened? I
spoke with people from Smith's camp who told me the problem was all in the initial
10 yards. Throughout Combine training, Smith had been clocking 1.45 seconds in
his 10 time, but yesterday, for some, reason he ran 1.55s. The one-tenth difference
kept Smith out of the 4.3s. It'll be interesting to see what happens during the
Buckeyes pro day.
Ryan Delaire, DE, Towson: Small-school defensive end Ryan Delaire of Towson ran a disappointing 4.95 forty
today, but the time is not reflective of the entire story. Three weeks ago, Delaire
underwent knee surgery to clip a piece of loose cartilage in the joint and really
should not have been running today. Understanding the enormity of his Combine
opportunity, Delaire decided to participate. Unfortunately, after the 40, he strained
his groin and was sidelined for the rest of the session. The hope is Delaire will be full
speed for Towson pro day, which takes place April 1.
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut: Participating in tomorrow's workout will be a game-time decision for UConn
cornerback Byron Jones, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum just over
two months ago. Jones was cleared just weeks ago for a full training regiment.
James Sample, S, Louisville: Several people were surprised when I rated Louisville safety James Sample ahead
of teammate Gerod Holliman prior to the Combine. I'm happy to say I'm not alone,
and most teams here in Indianapolis have a similar ranking. How high will Sample
be selected? I grade him as a fifth-rounder, but I'm told a good 40 time tomorrow
could push Sample into the third round.
Kansas City Chiefs: Word at the Combine has the Kansas City Chiefs very high on East Carolina receiver
Justin Hardy, which makes perfect sense. Hardy's route-running skills, ability to
separate in underneath coverage and dependable hands would fit a hole in the Chiefs
Over the past 24 hours, sources have told me two bits of free agency news. The first
is the New York Jets will be in the running for Seattle Sehawaks offensive lineman
James Carpenter. And the second, which may be old news for some, but comes from
sources involved in the situation, is the belief that Julius Thomas is done in Denver.
Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky: Expect a big workout from Alvin Dupree of Kentucky on Sunday. His 40 time could
be faster than Jadeveon Clowney's from a year ago (4.59) and the rest of his marks
should be off the chart. Many were surprised Dupree was listed at linebacker for the
Combine considering many of the undersized college ends are working out with the
defensive linemen. It presents a real opportunity for Dupree, who showed himself to
be a dominant pass-rushing end in college and now has the opportunity to prove he
can also play in space.
Mike Hull, LB, Penn State: I expect two Big Ten linebackers to beat expectations during their Combine workout.
Mike Hull of Penn State had minor knee surgery at seasons end but still participated
in the Senior Bowl and should run in the low-to-mid 4.6s. Teams like Hull as a core
special teamer/nickel linebacker.
Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan: Jake Ryan of Michigan, who's been pegged as a two-down defender by a number
of people, including myself, should also run in the 4.6s and post good shuttle times.
Ryan timed well last year as a junior and just needs to translate that speed onto the
Marcus Hardison, DT, Arizona State: Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison suffered a minor knee injury during the Senior
Bowl, which has hampered his training. As a result, Hardison will not participate in
the Combine and will work out for teams during the Arizona State pro day.
Houston Texans: I'm told the Houston Texans are not happy with not happy with Louis Nix and will
target a nose tackle during the draft.
Eric Eiland, DE, Houston: Speaking of Houston, it looks like we have our first candidate for the 2015
supplemental draft, and he comes from the Houston Cougars. Last night, I was
informed defensive end Eric Eiland, who posted 44 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss
last season, is very likely to enter the supplemental draft. Eiland, who'll turn 27
years old this September, intended to enter April's draft, but did not fill out the
necessary paperwork. Eiland is an accomplished baseball player who was selected by
the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2007 amateur draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: While everyone expects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select a quarterback with the
first pick of the draft, what about their other choices? I'm told the team will target
linebackers and offensive linemen throughout the seven rounds.
Cleveland Browns: What will Kyle Shanahan miss most from Cleveland? If his words mean anything, it
will be offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, whom Shanahan called "great" and the "best
rookie lineman I ever coached."
The first full day of combine workouts are underway, and we're just getting started.
One top-rated tight end has already been injured during medical drills and no one
will be driving away in a Porsche.
I posted several tweets last week over Adidas canceling the Porsche promotion for
the three fastest 40 times at the combine for athletes they sponsor. Several
sources initially informed me of this Monday, then a few more chimed in with the
same information yesterday. Just about every source told me Adidas will substitute
cash for cars. What caused the cancellation? I don't know if we'll ever get the entire
story, but a number of people have put forth the theory the league pressured Adidas
to pull the promotion, as Porsche is not an official sponsor of the Combine. That has
left a lot of people shaking their heads.
Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers: As posted earlier on twitter, Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft had his ankle injured
during Combine medicals. Yesterday, I reported Kroft was expected to run the 40
in the 4.6s despite suffering the remnants of an ankle injury suffered during the
season. I'm told doctors during the medicals pulled and twisted Kroft's ankle to
test the integrity of the joint, and they stretched it a bit to much. Players getting
injured during combine medicals is nothing new. I remember hearing a similar story
years ago on Penn State linebacker Dan Connor, who had to pull out of the Combine
workout after straining his knee when doctors pulled and twisted his leg to test the
joint. Combine workouts can be a hazard as doctors will tug and pulls leg and other
joints, especially if medical history shows a prior injury. The end result could be a
Combine participant who leaves the medical room worse for the where.
Cody Fajardo, QB/WR, Nevada: Keep a close eye on Cody Fajardo of Nevada tomorrow. Since the Senior Bowl
there's been talk of Fajardo making the move from quarterback to receiver. He's
a sensational athlete, but his passing, specifically his accuracy, leaves a lot to be
desired. Though there's been no official word to date, it'll be interesting to see if
Fajardo is put through receiver drills at the end of the quarterback practice session.
The same intrigue surrounds Devin Funchess of Michigan and Georgia Tech's Darren
Waller; will they be asked to participate in alternate position drills, specifically at the
tight end position?
Darren Waller, WR, Georgia Tech: I've heard nothing on Funchess, whom I presently grade as my number one tight end.
On the other hand, Waller is ready to complete tight end drills if asked, and I'm told
he's also willing to work out at both positions during his pro day.
Chris Conley, WR, Georgia: There's always one receiver who runs faster than expected or jumps higher than
anticipated. This year, it could be Chris Conley of Georgia, who could break into the
4.3s (listed as a 4.55s forty by scouts entering the season) and later jump north of
42-inches in the vertical.
Justin Hardy, WR, East Carolina: Don't expect a blistering 40 time from Justin Hardy, as he'll clock around 4.5
seconds. I'm told Hardy has been running exceptional three-cone times in training
and could make run at the Combine record. That represents his route running and
Titus Davis, WR, Central Michigan: I'm told Titus Davis of Central Michigan, who missed time in 2014 with a knee injury,
is a 100-percent fit for his combine workout.
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: If receiver Devin Smith runs as well as expected, the comparisons to Torrey Smith
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn: Cameron Artis-Payne is riding high after a terrific 2014 campaign, then a good
performance at the Senior Bowl. While he should run in the mid 4.4s, scouts want
him to stand out in pass-catching drills on Saturday. The results could be the
difference of Artis-Payne sliding into the draft's initial 100 picks.
Ahtyba Rubin, NT, Browns: Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin hits the free agent marked after spending his entire
career with the Cleveland Browns. Will Rubin remain a Brown? The overriding belief
is Rubin has achieved all he can with the Browns, and it's time to move on.
It's the day before the first full day of workouts at the 2015 NFL Combine. So what's the skinny as the offensive linemen and tight ends prepare to take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium? Here's the latest I'm hearing with some additional notes on the free agent corners as well as Jadeveon Clowney.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, Texans: I've spoken with a number of people since the Senior Bowl who have openly said there is serious concern over Jadeveon Clowney's future. A variety of opinions have come from numerous sources, including those close to the Texans. I've heard everything from don't expect much from Clowney in 2015 to the belief he may struggle to ever regain full health from the microfracture surgery. The reasoning for the latter is Clowney underwent the procedure at an early age.
New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears: The other big story brewing during the opening days of the Combine centers around free agent cornerbacks. The belief is available corners will be overpaid in free agency as the demand at the position will far outstrip the supply. Sources tell me a number of teams (New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears) may look to sign a pair of corners in free agency; the need is so great. They also point to the New England Patriots as a team who won the Super Bowl with the help of two free agent corners, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida: On Monday, I pointed to D.J. Humphries as the offensive lineman who'll leave the Combine with biggest bump in his draft stock. I've been told Humphries has more than 20 team interviews scheduled. Not to far behind is Jeremiah Poutasi with 17.
Jean Sifrin, TE, UMass: I'm not overly keen on the tight end class but watch Jean Sifrin from UMass. He was a surprise junior entry, but his game film reeks of upside potential. I'm told there's a chance Sifrin runs in the 4.5s, which would likely be the fastest time of the non move/H-back tight ends (aka, the Wes Saxton types).
Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers: Another junior tight end likely to impress with his athletic numbers is Tyler Kroft of Rutgers. Still suffering the remnants of a high ankle sprain which he incurred during the season, Kroft is not 100 percent, but could still break into the 4.6s in the forty. Known primarily as a pass catcher, it must be pointed out Kroft's blocking improved as the season progressed in 2015.
Jesse James, TE, Penn State: Jesse James of Penn State is the third underclassmen tight end to watch tomorrow. James measured 6-7/262lbs and could get into the low 4.7s during his 40 and over 35 inches on the vertical jump. I'm told James has also run good shuttle times in training.
Nick O'Leary, TE, Florida State: Nick O'Leary of Florida State plans to participate in the complete combine workout if his hamstring holds up. You may remember O'Leary hurt his hamstring during pre-game warmups at the Rose Bowl six weeks ago, which forced him to take a different approach to combine training.
Randall Telfer, TE, USC: I'm not hearing good things about Randall Telfer of USC. Dating back to the NFLPA game, I was told the tight end is out of shape and does not seem serious about the pre-draft process.
While most concentrate on forty times and bench press results at the combine, it's the medicals and interviews which are that two most important categories this week. Medicals can break a prospect while the interview process is critical. Several well named prospects are about to find that out.
Carl Davis, DT, Iowa: While I gushed over the performance of Carl Davis during the Senior Bowl, and justifiably so, sources tell me the defensive lineman will be asked hard questions at the combine surrounding his pedestrian production and the belief he occasionally took plays off. This should come as no surprise as I listed Davis as a Week Four Slider because of poor production. The answers scouts receive could determine whether or not Davis lands in the first round. Does a team overlook poor production in favor of dominant skills and potential? Or does inconsistent play raise red flags?
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: Talking about medicals, I'm told team doctors at the combine will closely inspect Bryce Petty's back as there has been some concern surrounding previous issues.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State: Right now I'm told there's a wide opinion on where Jay Ajayi ranks amongst ball carriers. Some teams grade the Boise State junior as the second- or third-rated running back on their board while others have him listed as low as the eight or ninth back. For the record, Ajayi is our third-rated running back.
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: Trae Waynes looks like a physical beast on the field, and he'll have a chance to prove as much come Sunday. I'm told Waynes has been running in the 4.3s during training and could complete more than 20 reps on the bench press. The only cornerbacks to complete more than 20 reps last year included Jaylen Watkins (22) and Keith Reaser (22).
On paper, this looks to be one of the best running back draft's in a long time but will the ball-carriers slip through the cracks come late April? A number of people tell me the rich crop of veteran backs available in free agency next month, many who won't command high salaries, could result in a few of the 2nd/3rd/4th round backs sliding deeper into the draft than many suspect.
A week and a day earlier than usual, the 2015 NFL Combine kicks off in just four days with the offensive linemen taking to the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. So what's the latest word on the blockers as the football world descends upon Indianapolis? Here are five stories to keep an eye on.
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida: Which offensive lineman will leave the Indianapolis with significantly improved draft grades? I'd gamble on D.J. Humphries of Florida. I presently grade Humphries as a 3rd rounder, earlier than most, but the feeling is he could move even higher with a good combine performance. Scouts believe Humphries is one of the most athletic tackles in this years class and holds as much upside as any of the top rated blockers. Playing the year at 280-pounds, he presently tips the scales at just over 300-pounds and is being tutored by former New York Giant offensive lineman William Roberts. Expect not only good testing marks from Humphries but a solid performance in position drills as his ability to effortlessly move about the field and change direction will surely impress.
Jeremiah Poutasi, OT, Utah: Another junior offensive lineman I expect to leave the combine with a buzz is Utah junior Jeremiah Poutasi. The Utes starting left tackle the past two seasons after manning the right side as a freshman, most teams grade Poutasi at guard with some now referring to him as Mike Iupati Jr. I graded Poutasi as an early third round pick and have been told scouts rate him much higher than those on the outside (media).
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: Many grade T.J. Clemmings as a mid-first round choice but it's an opinion those affiliated with the league never shared. Sources told me the early first round grades placed on Clemmings were unwarranted and set up unreasonable expectations at the Senior Bowl. Most now believe Clemmings needs a strong combine performance and pro-day to stay in the first round. And though the short term picture may not be as rosy as some predict, league insiders all feel Clemmings best football lay ahead as he's still learning to play on the offensive line. There's also a belief Clemmings could start his pro-career at guard, something I've said all along, before being kicked outside to tackle.
Ty Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State: Another top rated blocker who needs to turn in a good combine performance is Tyler Sambrailo. The Colorado State tackle struggled at times during the Senior Bowl and teams came away questioning his functional football strength. On the other hand his athleticism is not a concern (still remember watching as Sambrailo caught a touchdown pass last season). Sambrailo may not have the fastest forty time on Friday but check and see how his shuttle and 3-cone times stack up against the rest of the offensive linemen. There's still a chance Sambrailo slides into the late part of round one. I previously posted on the Seattle Seahawks admiration for Sambrailo and now hear the Green Bay Packers are in the mix. The team could lose Bryan Bulaga via free agency in the coming weeks and the feeling is Sambrailo's athleticism and ability to easily move around the field makes him a perfect fit for the Aaron Rodgers led Packers.
Ali Marpet, G, Hobart: After his sensational performance at the Senior Bowl a lot of eyes will be on Ali Marpet in Indianapolis. The Hobart product has been working with former All Pro Bob Whitfield, who's taken to the small school lineman. I'm told teams are struggling how to grade Marpet and at what position. Most teams have listed him at guard or center, with a few slotting Marpet at the right tackle spot. Almost no one has listed him as a left tackle as arm length is a concern (calling Jeff Backus!). Expect Marpet to put up solid not sensational numbers this week (5-second forty, 30-reps on the bench). I'm told Hobart will try and hold their pro-day on March 26th, the same day Syracuse is hosting NFL teams. The plan is for Marpet to workout early in the morning before scouts make the one hour drive to Syracuse, who has denied Marpet the opportunity to participate in their pro-day.