Early Storylines of the 2015 NFL Draft
The 2015 NFL Draft is riddled with multiple intriguing storylines, however a few have the chance to be significantly altered after the Combine this weekend.
A few players enter being deemed as borderline-first round prospects or marginal draft prospects, while others are fighting pre-conceived perceptions or basking in growing recognition. Let’s take a look at some the early storylines beginning to take shape or have the chance to take form a few days into the NFL Combine.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR (Oklahoma)
The Reclamation Project
Combine measurements: 6’5”—237 lbs—32 ½” Arm Length—9” Hands; 4.49 40-yard dash
Arguably the best receiver in this class based on physical stature, DGB comes into the combine just as, if not more, focused on proving to teams that his days of trouble are behind him.
The former-Missouri Tiger (and Oklahoma Sooner. Kind of) standout was measured at Calvin Johnson-like figures, and as for his play, he’s been likened as being the best receiver prospect available since Megatron himself.
So far, DGB has taken the opportunity to speak on his reformation publicly, citing his family being the influence in his change. The physical tools—and more importantly, the game film—speak for themselves. It’s now a matter of whether or not he can convince teams that his off-field struggles are behind him and he’s worth a high selection.
Jake Fisher, OT (Oregon)
The High Riser
Combine measurements: 6’6”—306 lbs—33 ¾” Arm Length—10 3/8” Hands; 5.01 40-yard dash
While the likes of Brandon Scherff, Ereck Flowers, La’el Collins and Cedric Ogbuehi have been the dominant offensive line prospect names, Fisher used the Combine as his opportunity to quickly ascend into consideration as a highly touted lineman prospect.
We know that he could move being a lineman in Mark Helfrich’s up-tempo offensive scheme, but after posting an impressive 7.25 three-cone drill and 4.33 shuttle time, along with a 5.01 40-yard dash, at his stature, teams interested in grabbing an offensive lineman at the bottom of the first/top of the second will be salivating should they have the opportunity to snag the Oregon product.
The Combine may seem like a pointless spectacle to most, however it’s for players like Fisher that the event is in place—to definitively display abilities that may have been unknown to organizations and fans before. Although, let’s not forget that the tape is always more telling.
Randy Gregory, EDGE (Nebraska)/Vic Beasley, EDGE (Clemson)
Gregory: 6’4”—235 lbs—34” Arm Length—10” Hands
Throughout the 2014 season, Gregory was touted as being a potential top-five pick in this year’s draft, however concerns of his style of play translating to the next level, combined with questions of his size have come to fruition. Now the former Cornhusker faces the possibility of dropping to the bottom of the first round and beyond.
His weigh-in at the combine wasn’t too helpful; however, with teams picturing Gregory as being an outside linebacker in a 3-4 base defense, his size isn’t as concerning, but it is somewhat questionable that he didn’t bulk up any more than he did prior to attending the Combine.
Beasley: 6’3″—246 lbs—32 1/2″ Arm Length—9 3/8″ Hands
Meanwhile, Vic Beasley has solidified his position and may have even improved it thanks to his measurements at the Combine. Beasley was regarded as being much too lean, despite his length and ability to consistently penetrate opposing team’s pockets over the course of the last two seasons at Clemson.
Like Gregory, Beasley projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 look, but with his size being set in stone, teams’ concerns of being too small to have any success at the next level are now assuredly put to rest.
Jaelen Strong, WR (Arizona State)
Not Just Strong?
Combine Measurements: 6’2”—217 lbs—32 ½” Arm Length—9” Hands; 4.51 40-yd, 10’3″ broad jump, 42″ vertical
Something must have been wrong with the measuring scales at ASU and every national sports media outlet in the country.
Earlier in the year, I wrote an article explaining why Strong was deserving of first-round consideration, and I scoured the Internet to find his correct height and weight measurements. I saw variations between 6’3” and 6’4”—Strong measured in at 6’2” on Thursday morning.
There were already questions of Strong’s speed, but his height and size had been considered one of his strengths. But, with a very impressive performance in the 40-yard dash, as well as an astonishing vertical jump on Saturday, he’s all but solidified himself as being the fifth-best (or better) receiver prospect in this class.
It’s still a question whether or not he’ll be selected in the first round, but with his strong performance at the Combine, he’s on track to be selected within the first 32 picks of the draft.
Jameis Winston, QB (FSU)/Marcus Mariota, QB (Oregon)
Faces of the Franchise?
Winston: 6’3 ¾”—231 lbs—32” Arm Length—9 3/8” Hands
Mariota: 6’3 ¾”—222 lbs—32” Arm Length—9 7/8” Hands
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have been compared against one another since they burst onto the national collegiate football scene.
This week though, while media outlets are all the more infatuated with Winston, Mariota has been impressing teams throughout the interview process with his knowledge and understanding of the game—the very thing that many (including myself) have been skeptical of him for.
Of course, this works both ways. While the Combine could insinuate that Mariota has the potential to grasp the complexities of a pro-style and adjusting against creative defensive looks because of what he can do on a whiteboard, we’ll never really know until he’s out there on the field and doing just that. Still, for teams that are questioning how well his style of play could translate to the NFL, hearing that he’s interviewing well and displaying a strong understanding is encouraging. The bulk he added—up to 222 pounds now—is also a positive sign.
As for Winston, the perception of him being likened to Johnny Manziel off the field is not as much of a concern as many would have liked to believe. His press conference on Friday went very well, showing great looseness and confidence.
He had pretty much seemed lock himself in as the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, but a report of him experiencing discomfort in his throwing shoulder halted that talk for a minute. It appears as though it’s nothing too serious, so as long as he handles himself well during the interview process, expect Winston to emerge as the solidified favorite to be chosen with the first pick in April.