We’re only six short weeks away from the 2010 NFL Draft, and this past week, the potential draftees were busy showcasing their measureable skills to prospective employers. Let’s take a look at some of the names who made themselves known at the NFL Draft Combine.
Sean Witherspoon (Missouri): Witherspoon proved himself to be an elite athlete, running a solid 4.68 40-yard dash, benched 34 reps (2nd highest among LBs) and ran the 60-yard shuttle well also. His coverage skills will allow him to get playing time early on in his rookie season, and will allow him to play as a 3-down linebacker as he continues to develop.
Dekota Watson (Florida St.): Watson, to the casual college football fan, probably flew under the radar a bit more than his Seminole LB predecessors. But his name appears on a few of the top performers’ lists from the combine. He ran one of the fastest 40 times for a LB (4.56), had one of the best vertical leaps (40 inches), and was one of the best in the 20-yard shuttle (4.11 seconds). He played on the inside and outside as a collegian, but may be a liability in pass coverage as a rookie.
Harry Coleman (LSU): Coleman was a safety for the Tigers, but is projected as a linebacker in the NFL due to his size (6’1”, 211 lbs.). He’ll need to bulk up a bit, but even adding some additional pounds should not affect his solid 40 time (4.65) and 60-yard shuttle (11.67). He’ll be a name to look for in the later rounds of rookie drafts in dynasty formats.
Jerry Hughes (TCU): Hughes will be a name to watch, partially because he will be drafted as a DL, and will likely have that designation fantasy-wise, but could end up as a linebacker. He lacks the overall size to start in the NFL as a true defensive end, and has the physical tools to run as a linebacker (4.69 40-yard dash, 6.99 3-cone drill and had the best DL time in the 20-yard shuttle: 4.15). He may frustrate fantasy owners as a classic “tweener”, but could impress enough to stick at the LB spot or bulk up enough to excel as a rush DE.
Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska): Suh clearly separated himself from Gerald McCoy, who was getting some love as the potential #1 overall pick, with his excellent combine numbers. Suh benched 32 reps (which was not spectacular, but better than McCoy) and everyone knows of Suh’s non-stop motor and nose for both the opposing QB and the football. He has the skills and athleticism to line up just about anywhere on the line in any scheme. If your league drafts/plays DT separate from the DEs, Suh should be your top DT option, and may be one of the best DTs overall, rookie or not, come the 2010 NFL season.
Thaddeus Gibson (Ohio State): Gibson was a combo DL/LB at Ohio St., but is projecting out as an NFL defensive lineman given his size (6’2”, 243 lbs., with room to bulk up). He could see some time at “rush linebacker”, which could affect his value based on how he’s designated fantasy-wise. Gibson was a top performer in the bench press (32 reps, same as Suh), but also had an impressive 3-cone drill time (6.84, best among DLs) and 20-yard shuttle time (4.27).
A.J. Jefferson (Fresno St.): We’d be remiss not to start this section off with anyone but Jefferson, who was a top performer in almost all of the combine tests. He wowed everyone with a ridiculous 44-inch vertical leap, ran an impressive 11.04 60-yard shuttle and ran a 4-flat 20-yard shuttle (those numbers were all tops for CBs). He also had an impressive 10’6” broad jump and 6.72-second 3-cone drill. He obviously has the measureables to raise some eyebrows come April. But as only a 1-year starter for the Bulldogs, the question is can he pick up the NFL game? Probably a risk an NFL team will gladly take and you should grab him in your dynasty drafts, stash him on the taxi squad and hope for the best.
Kyle McCarthy (Notre Dame): Like Jefferson, we saw McCarthy’s name in many of the top performer categories. He has good size (6’, 205 lbs.) and terrific football instincts. He’s a solid tackler with good coverage skills. His pre-draft bio sounds a lot like an Eric Weddle type, and IDPers know what that could translate into. DB is always a deep fantasy position, but you could do worse in the later rounds of your rookie draft.
Barry Church (Toledo): Church is a tough and reliable defender who excels in run support. With the proper seasoning in his first couple NFL years, his ball/pass coverage skills will improve. Consider him a deep sleeper and could excel quickly if drafted into the right situation. He repped 19 bench presses (which was by no means the best, but solid), had an outstanding 3-cone drill time (6.65) and a very good 60-yard shuttle time (11.18). Definitely a size-speed stud for a safety who can make the big hit.