The 2011 NFL Combine begins this Thursday. Interviews and physicals dominate the first two days. Then those of us that have access to the NFL combine, will have the opportunity to see these players for ourselves. Yes, boys and girls, I will take some vacation time to process some of what I am seeing at the combine as that is how hardcore I am (ECW Tommy Dreamer shout out)! We all want to see the big names i.e.: Mark Ingram, AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Mikel Leshoure.
Dynasties are built on finding a diamond or two in the rough. Getting to the Pierre Garcons, the Jermichael Finleys, or the Arian Fosters before they hit can be the most rewarding. Here are some players to watch closely at the combine:
WR- Greg Little – Missed all of 2010 with illegal contact with an agent. Little needs to hit the ground running. Will he be an afterthought or an epiphany? I am anxious to see if Little kept working on getting better in his extended time away from the game.
RB – Jacquizz Rodgers – Is he too small to play RB in the NFL? How well will he compete against guys slightly bigger than him: Kendall Hunter, DeMarco Murray?
WR – Jerrel Jernigan – Does the big man on campus from Troy have NFL skills? He didn’t compete in the Senior Bowl because of an ankle injury. Competition will only get tougher now. I am looking forward to him in the daunting gauntlet drill.
RB – Ryan Williams – He is the biggest name on the list and had the biggest Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. His 2009 stats, 293 carries for 1655 yards (5.6 ypa) with 21 TDs, do not match his 2010 stats, 110 carries for 477 yards (4.3 ypa) with 9 TDs. In the words of Marshall Mathers, “will the real Slim Shady please stand up.”
TEs- Virgil Green and Julius Thomas – These are both good move TEs. I want to see if they are more like an Aaron Hernandez/Jimmy Graham TE that finds a way to produce in their rookie season. If either one of them is not, each could become a Dorin Dickerson or Dennis Pitta player, which if you had either one last year = not good for fantasy or playing time. To quote my friend, Joe Everett of NFL Draft Bible, “Thomas is more raw but they’re both physical specimens with unlimited upside. Green is ready to play now, while Thomas may take a little time.”
RB – Dion Lewis – Was it Ray Graham’s play that limited his carries or Lewis? He gets compared to the guy he replaced, LeSean McCoy, but he seems a bit slower and has less vision than McCoy has. Can Lewis distinguish himself amongst his draft classmates?
WR – Edmond Gates – On game tape, he really looks like Percy Harvin i.e: physical, quick, finds a seam and runs to daylight. His cousin is Bernard Scott, so he has the bloodline to find some NFL success. His college teammate, Johnny Knox, has distinguished himself so let’s see what Gates can do.
Bring on the combine so we can get some answers and better insight into what these players’ futures hold.