2014 NFL Combine Risers and Fallers

03/07/2014 9:00 am by in Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football Articles, Fantasy Football Expert Analysis

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The NFL combine is in the books and now that the dust has settled lets take a look at the 2014 NFL Combine Risers and Fallers.

Before beginning it is important to keep in mind that the combine measures athleticism, not necessarily football performance. We all know there are are combine warriors who test well because they have specifically trained for the combine tests, but studying game film reveals much more about the players. Game film will show whether a player takes a few plays off, how they perform under duress, whether they are consistent or if their play is streaky and runs hot and cold.

In short, if you exceeded expectations you are considered a “riser”, if you don’t meet expectations you are seen as a “faller”. So without further ado, here are the 2014 NFL Combine Risers and Fallers on the offensive side of the ball. If you have any questions bring them to the forums!

Risers

Quarterbacks

Blake Bortles (6-5, 232) participated in all the drills and was the only one of the top three rookie quarterbacks to throw at the combine. He threw an accurate deep ball and impressed while throwing to receivers he did not know, showcasing above-average arm strength, good timing and velocity on the ball.

Johnny Manziel (6-0, 207) didn’t participate in the passing drills, but his forty, three cone drill and position best 20 yard shuttle reinforced the speed and athleticism that game tapes show. He will hold a private workout on March 27.

Jimmy Garappolo (6-2,226) continued to impress with his athleticism, accuracy and timing throwing the ball as well as during the interviews with his knowledge of the game. He also threw some accurate deep balls at the end of his workout which addressed concerns about his arm strength. He still has to learn to take snaps from under center. While putting this together Garappolo had his pro-day, and it was a busy one. Jim Harbaugh worked him on privately on the side prior to Garappolo working out for 31 of 32 teams. Garappolo also had a private workout with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and QB coach Geroge Godsey in the morning.

A.J. McCarron (6-3, 220) will continue to fight the game-manager tag, but he had a solid workout at the combine. He put the ball where it needed to be during drills. He showed lateral movement, quick feet, good anticipation, timing and better than expected arm strength. McCarron falls into the second tier of quarterback prospects. He can succeed if he goes to a west coast offense that employs those 12-15 yard, inside the hash-mark routes. He is a projected Round 3/4 selection.

Logan Thomas (6-6, 248) impressed with his agility and burst. This athleticism alone makes him a developmental prospect as he learns the pro game and rumors persist he could change positions in the pros, with a possible move to the tight end position. His biggest knock is inconsistent throwing mechanics. He’s a projected Round 6/7 selection but some team will love him potential and if that team has a strong coaching staff Thomas may be able to realize his upside.

The quarterback position is deep but if your team is looking for a starter they had better grab one of the top four (Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr). Teams with established starters at quarterback can afford to wait on guys like Garoppolo, Fales, Mettenberger or McCarron.

Running Backs

Bishop Sankey (5-9, 209) had a good overall combine and solidified his potential as a top four pick at the position. His 4.49 forty answered questions about his speed and he excelled in the other drills. His lateral agility and vision allow him gain yards even if the offensive line doesn’t open the hole as it was drawn up. One legitimate concern is pass blocking, just like most rookie running backs. He is a projected Round 2/3 selection.

Charles Sims (5-11, 214) is another big back whose 4.48 forty answered questions about his speed. Sims can do it all offensively, run inside or outside (1095 rushing yards/11 touchdowns), and catch the ball out of the backfield (45/401/3 last season). He is a projected Round 3 selection.

Dri Archer (5-8, 173) produced the second fastest forty (4.26) in combine history. His size may work against him as a running back for some teams, but he’s the same size as Tavon Austin and he’s a threat as a kick returner. He can also receive out of the backfield or line up split wide. Like Steve Smith (5-9, 180) and Darren Sproles (5-6, 190), Dri Archer plays bigger than his size. It may take a year in an NFL weight room, but he could be the playmaking half of an RBBC.

Jerick McKinnon (5-9, 209) played (option) quarterback in college but worked out with the running backs at the combine. He really impressed finishing in the top five in the forty (4.41), bench press (32 reps), vertical jump (40.5 inches) and broad jump (11 foot). His showing of speed, power, explosiveness and hands may have pushed him from late round consideration into the middle rounds (4/5) of the draft.

While there are no elite running backs in this year’s class there is depth and starting potential to be found throughout the draft. Don’t get too caught up where a running back your team selects is drafted, there are probably ten or more that can contribute in their rookie season.

Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins (6-1, 211) solidified himself as a top receiver in this class showing elite speed, exceptional quickness, change of direction, strong hands and (running) good routes. His 4.43 forty did not disappoint. He can score from anywhere on the field, but one small question associated with Watkins is whether he can make the tough catch over the middle with an NFL defender on him. That is the difference between an impact receiver and a WR1. He is a no-brainer first round selection.

Jordan Matthews (6-3, 212) had one major question mark going into the combine, speed. All he did was run an official 4.46. He also showed his strength with 21 reps @ 225 pound, good for second among wide receivers and hands in the receiving drills. Other than that he’s the SEC’s all-time leader with 262 career receptions, with 3,759 yards and 24 TDs. As a senior he caught 112 passes for 1,477 yards. After all that he is a projected Round 2/3 selection. It’s a deep wide receiver class.

Brandin Cooks (5-10, 189) really improved his stock with his combine performance. It began with his position leading 4.33 forty and he maintained that speed throughout his drills. He showed good hands, catching every pass thrown his way along with a non-stop motor. He also led all receivers in the 20-yard shuttle (3.82) and 60-yard shuttle (10.72). He is a bit undersized by today’s standards as most of the top twenty wide receivers in the NFL are 6-0 or better but Cooks, like Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson, looks like he’ll deliver. He looks like the fourth receiver to come off the board in the NFL draft, probably a second day selection.

Odell Beckham (5-11, 198) finished in the top ten in the forty (4.43) and in the three cone drill (6.69). He added top five numbers in the 20 (3.94) and 60 yard shuttle (10.93) confirming his explosiveness. Along with his return skills Beckham now enters first round consideration.

Paul Richardson (6-0, 175) solidified second round consideration in the NFL draft by posting the top numbers in the 20 and 60 yard shuttles and running a 4.4 forty. He practiced to that speed, running sharp routes and displaying consistent hands. He is going to need some time in the weight room to build strength. Richardson has some injury (ADL, 2012) and off field issues as well that may cause a few teams to move him down on their draft board but he can run a full route tree and is an immediate deep threat with his speed. .He is a projected Round 2/3 selection.

Mike Evans (6-5, 231) solidified his number two ranking among the wide receivers when he exceeded expectations with his route running, hands and speed (4.5 forty). He will be in the discussion as a top ten pick in the NFL draft remains a likely top fifteen selection.

Jon Brown (5-10, 170) is a small school all-purpose wide receiver who followed up a strong Shrine week with a solid combine performance. He posted a 4.34 forty and followed that up in the pass catching drills by running crisp routes and good hands. He drew applause from the combine coaches after a number of drills. Pittsburg State coach Tim Beck has praised his work ethic and Brown should provide an upgrade on special teams with his kickoff and punt return skills. His combine performance moved him into late round consideration.

Albert Wilson (5-9, 202) is another small school prospect who impressed with his quickness, route runnings and receiving ability, in addition to posting a low 4.4 forty. He could be a late round selection or an unsigned free agent after the draft. He offers special teams value and maybe more from the slot.

The deepest position in the draft this year. The number of early entries alone, projected to go in the first two rounds, could reach double digits. Your team can find talent through the mid rounds (4-5).

Tight Ends

Eric Ebron (6-4, 250) solidified has number one ranking at the position showing good hands during the drills and running a 4.6 forty. He moves like a wide receiver and has the size of a tight end. He is the top prospect at tight end and is expected to be a first round selection.

A.C. Leonard (6-2, 252) had a solid combine running a 4.5 forty and showing acceleration, agility, good hands and route running in the passing drills. He has some injury and off-field issues but he may have moved into Round 6/7 consideration.

After the top four this position value is “eye of the beholder” material. There are sleepers with off field issues (Lyerta, Leonard) and sleepers that were not used much in their college offense (Rodgers, Murphy)

Fallers

Just a note that the term “fallers” is relative. All it means is that they did not meet athletic expectations, which doesn’t mean they don’t deliver on the field.

Quarterbacks

David Fales (6-2, 212) did not show NFL caliber arms strength during the drills as receivers had to wait on the ball. In 2012 Fales threw for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns, completing 72% of his passes. As a senior, in more of a pro-style offense, he threw for 4,189 yards and 33 touchdowns with a 64% completion rate, with nine 300 yard passing games and two touchdowns on the ground. Expect draft boards and opinions to vary widely on David Fales. He could excel in a quick hitting west coast offense which features short to intermediate routes (no more than 20 yards) and multiple reads. He is a projected mid round selection.

Running Backs

Ka’Deem Carey (5-9, 207) ran a 4.7 forty and he will look to his pro day to better those numbers as his game is built on speed. However, his production (3,814 rushing yards, 44 touchdowns) over the past two season was no fluke. In 2013 he led the Pac-12 with 1,885 rushing yards to go along with 19 touchdowns and he added 26 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield. Don’t read too much into his forty, he’ll make plays on the field. He is a projected Round 2/3 selection.

Tre Mason (5-8, 207) will force scouts to go back to his game film as he failed to impress at the combine. He was slower than expected, did not consistently catch the ball with his hands and struggled in the ball carrying drills. Despite struggling at the combine he remains a second or third round pick who posted top ten numbers in the forty (4.5) and vertical jump (38.5′) with a top five finish in the vertical jump (10′ 6″). Mason broke Bo Jackson’s single-season school record with 1,816 yards and tied the SEC record with 23 rushing touchdowns. He is a projected Round 2 selection.

James Wilder (6-3, 232) ran a disappointing 4.86 forty and struggled with the bench press as well (19reps). He will have to do much better at his pro day as he shared carries at Florida State. The tape shows that Wilder is a power back that runs with determination, is tough to bring down and gains yardage with his lean. While the forty time may knock him down a few rounds he is a projected Round 6 selection.

DeAnthony Thomas (5-9, 174)showcased speed at Oregon but ran a 4.5 forty and measured 8 1/8″ hands. By combine “standards” he fell short of expectations. Still Thomas produced 5,345 career yards and holds Oregon records for kickoff return yards (1,885) and punt return average (17.1), and he’s fourth in career scoring (278 points). He is a projected Round 6/7 selection.

Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson (6-2, 220) had a tough combine. He ran slower than expected (4.6 forty), showed limited quickness and poor route running. In 2013 he led the Big Ten with 97 catches and 1,432 yards and over his last two seasons he produced 174 receptions and 2,445 receiving yards. To be fair, speed is not his strength but his combine performance may knock him out of first round consideration.

Jarvis Landry (5-11, 205)will see his stock drop slightly after running a 4.77 forty and posting a 28.5 inch vertical leap, which combined, will have teams doubting his explosiveness. A calf injury may have contributed to his test results. Don’t read too much into his forty time, he is a solid receiver with dependable hands and a likely second day pick if he can improve these numbers at his pro-day.

Tight Ends

Jace Amaro (6-5, 255) ran a 4.74 forty, and his hands measured only 9 inches. Considering that scouts questioned his speed and athleticism those concerns remain. What is not in doubt is that he caught 106 passes for 1352 yards and seven touchdowns this past season as the focal point of a spread offense. He is a projected Round 1/2 selection but I would not be surprised to see him fall a bit more.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-5, 262) did not participate in the combine when a stress fracture was discovered in his left foot. He recently had surgery to correct that issue and may not be able to work out for teams prior to the NFL draft. He is the 2013 John Mackey award winner as the nation’s top collegiate tight end. His athleticism, big play potential and ability to both block and catch will make him an instant starter for most teams. He is a projected Round 2/3 selection but it will depend on his ability to work out prior to the draft.

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