Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Most of the time, the NFL Combine is simply a way for people who follow the draft to check some boxes. Sure, the analysts and TV folks make a big deal out of it, but teams pay much more attention to game film with the players against real competition in pads than they do running a short distance in spandex.
I was surprised at how much the 2015 NFL combine really affected my mock draft, however, as a lot of players that needed to do well did well and many players that I expected to do well did not. This means we get to go back to the tape and re-evaluate, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at how the combine affected the draft based on my own rankings.
I’ve mixed in a few spoilers as to some players’ RAS scores, if you’re curious how they ranked against their own position in combines past.
Quarterback, Florida State
This may seem like quite a jump, as I had Winston rated at 20th in my pre combine mock draft. While I’m not personally a fan of his game, my bigger concerns were with Winston’s character and his ability to interview well with teams. I expected him to bomb out of the interviews once teams got a chance to talk to him. As it is, the opposite was true as Winston killed every interview he was in. Additionally, he appeared to say all the right thing in public interviews which, while canned, show that he is indeed coachable. Mariota did nothing to hurt his stock, but Winston is soaring at the moment.
Defensive Tackle, Southern California
I still don’t’ see the Titans going with a quarterback even with my #1 QB falling off of his perch. The team has too many problems on the defensive side of the ball and need someone that can anchor their defensive line and Williams will provide that. Free agency will be very interesting for Whisenhunt’s team, and I expect them to address their QB position there no matter how much they have thrown their support behind Zettenmustache.
One of the rare times I reward an athletic player for being an athletic player. I knew coming into the combine that Vic Beasley
would be one of the top performers, but I didn’t expect him to put on the show that he did. Easily one of the most athletic prospects at the combine, Beasley would actually measure well even against the combines of the past decade. His 9.86 RAS grade ranks 3rd amongst all DEs since 2005. Beasley’s size is concerning to some, but I don’t think Gus Bradley will care nearly as much while he schemes how to use the Clemson product.
Wide Receiver, West Virginia
I know, this is a popular choice at the moment. I felt the Raiders would address their defense first, as it looks much further ahead than their offense at the moment. The team’s surplus of cap space will likely be spent filling any perceived holes on their defense, however, and they’re likely to go after their top offensive target. The oft mocked Amari Cooper
could still go here, but let’s be honest…it’s the Raiders and they like them some fast players.
Defensive End, Nebraska
Gregory measured smaller than he probably would have liked to at the combine, and draftniks were concerned for about, oh, five minutes or so about that. Eventually Gregory would start running and doing the athletic things he does and reminding everyone why he’s rated as highly as he is. Is he as athletic as Jadeveon Clowney
? No. Clowney measured similarly in some events, but was also about 40 lbs. heavier. Comparisons like that really take away from the natural talent that Gregory has all on his own, and if he’s able to maintain better weight on his frame as a pro he will help the Redskins improve that sieve of a defense.