The NFL Scouting Combine is just days away, and NFL teams have put together a list of players who are unlikely perform at the combine because of injury. Some of those players were already known. Weeks ago, we were first to report that Ohio State safety Malik Hooker would be out after having labrum and hernia surgery. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis is out with an ankle injury, while ESPN's Adam Caplan reported Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was out after surgery on his right shoulder.
WalterFootball.com has learned from team sources that another first-round talent who is unlikey to perform at the combine is Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis.
A shoulder injury led to Davis not participating at the Senior Bowl, and teams have been told he is unlikely to work out at the combine. There are a lot of questions in the scouting community about how fast Davis will run in the 40-yard dash, but that answer will probably have to wait until his pro day.
Here is the group of players that team sources passed along to WalterFootball.com on their unlikely-to-perform list:
Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis Wisconsin left tackle Ryan Ramcyzk Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster Ohio State safety Malik Hooker Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis
The list passed along also included three players who were said to be questionable to participate:
It has been well established that the 2017 NFL Draft class is weak at the offensive tackle position. One of the top tackle prospects is Alabama's Cam Robinson, and some prominent analysts have had Robinson sliding late into the first round. WalterFootball.com reached out to team sources to see if they think a slide is possible for Robinson. Three teams said yes, and three teams said no.
The teams that said yes feel that Robinson's inconsistencies from his junior season could cause him to slide. Some team sources believe that the interviews, medical evaluation, and off-the-field concerns could push Robinson down. He did have a gun arrest roughly a year ago, but the chargers were eventually dropped. One general manager of a playoff team said they liked Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk and Utah's Garett Bolles more than Robinson.
However, three other teams thought Robinson would go high. One team picking in the early teens didn't believe Robinson would get to their pick. A personnel director of a playoff team had this to say: "For selfish reasons, I would love it if he did slide and was an option for us, but I just don't think it will happen."
The director of college scouting for an AFC team picking in the top 20 said they had Robinson as a top-15 pick and believe that he is a Russell Okung- or Ryan Clady-type left tackle for the next level. When asked about Robinson sliding this was the director's response: "He is top 15 easily. Who else will go before? Bolles? Ramczyk? Not even close."
With teams split on where they project Robinson, his combine interviews, workout, pre-draft visits, and medical evaluation will be very important to his draft stock.
Michigan star defender Jabrill Peppers is one of the most intriguing prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. Last season, Peppers was a Heisman Trophy candidate in leading a tough Michigan defense while also being a star on special teams and contributing some on offense. For the NFL, there has been some question on how Peppers fits with most teams projecting Peppers to be a hybrid dime linebacker and safety, similar to Arizona safety Deone Bucannon. However the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peppers is a bit undersized for that role. Given the questionable position fit, WalterFootball.com surveyed teams to see if they thought Peppers would be a first-round pick, and teams were split 50-50 on Peppers going in the first round.
Three teams said they thought that Peppers would end up going on Thursday night. They thought that his range was from the middle of the first round to late in the first round. One AFC director of college scouting said of Peppers, "Probably will go in the first after he tests well at the combine. I would say 20-30 range." Peppers is known to be a great athlete, so impressive workouts at the combine and are pro day are expected.
Three other teams said they thought Peppers would go early in the second round. The position fit, concerns about him in pass coverage, and being a bit undersized in a safety/linebacker role to tackle NFL running backs were working against Peppers. One national scout for a NFC team had this to say about Peppers, "He's a smaller Landon Collins. He has to be a safety in my opinion, but he has even less coverage exposure than Landon did coming out as a pure strong safety."
Thus, Peppers needs to live up to expectations with a strong combine, pro day, and private workouts to help his chances of going on the opening night of the draft. It only takes one team to fall in love, and there are a number of teams in the middle to late first round that could use an upgrade at safety. However, heading into the combine, teams are split on if Peppers will end up being a first-round pick.
Every year in the NFL Draft, there are some top prospects who are held back by injury during the pre-draft process. This year, one of the top talents in the 2017 NFL Draft will be in that category, as WalterFootball.com has learned from NFL sources that Ohio State safety Malik Hooker will be out 4-6 months after having hernia and labrum surgery.
Given the timetable of his recovery, Hooker won't be able to participate in the field workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine and may not be able to conduct other workouts later in the spring for teams prior to the draft. Thus, sources say that Hooker's combine medical recheck weeks before the draft will be very important for teams to gauge if there could be any projected impact on his availability for the start of training camp.
Hooker was one of the breakout players in college football in 2016, as the redshirt sophomore totaled 74 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, half a sack, four passes broken up and seven interceptions. He returned three of those picks for touchdowns in his first season as a starter. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder impressed evaluators with his natural skills as a single high safety and his ability to be a game changer in pass coverage. Hooker is atop our NFL Draft Safety Prospect Rankings.
At this time, the injuries don't appear to be threatening to his rookie season, so his draft stock may not see much of an impact from these surgeries. Multiple teams have told WalterFootball.com that Hooker has received high first-round grades, so even with these injuries, he may not have a long wait to find out his NFL home on Thursday night of the draft.