by John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
INDIANAPOLIS – We continue today with Part 2 of jaguars.com’s 2013 combine primer.
In Part 1 Tuesday, we touched on how big the combine has become, not only because NFL Network cameras have brought the event into fans’ homes for nine years now, but also because those cameras have helped spur more and more prospects into participating in more events.
Still, the question remains:
Just how big is the combine? How important? It’s a piece of the pre-draft process, but how big a piece? New Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said he considers it an ideal place to answer unanswered questions, to gather and confirm data that would be difficult to find without a centralized, one-stop event such as the combine.
“A lot of times it’s about answering red flags,” Caldwell said as Jaguars coaches and personnel staff prepared for the combine, which will be held toay through Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
“We might ask a guy, ‘Why did you miss this game? Why did you miss that game?’ Maybe we’re not 100 percent sure of this players’ place. Maybe we really like this player, but he’s a wide receiver and he ran a 4.75. Let’s go back and watch and look at him again. Maybe he is playing against poorer competition, honestly, and that’s why we have him where we have him.”
All are questions the Jaguars will ask and attempt to answer this week, but how much can a player truly help himself at the combine?
Caldwell said because the Jaguars will emphasize on-field performance, and because of the comprehensive nature of the rest of the scouting process, how much a player can move up or down a draft board in the coming week can and should be limited.
“I don’t think you’d see a player skyrocket for us,” he said. “But certain teams are different. Other teams may say we want a corner who runs a 4.3, is 6-1, 210 pounds and if someone measures that at the combine, they’re taking him. They want him, and they take him.”
So, as we prepare to begin jaguars.com’s coverage of the 2013 combine, here’s part two of the 2013 combine primer:
HOW HIGH CAN A QUARTERBACK GO?
If there’s a question that has been kicked around in the early part of the pre-draft process, that has been it. And with quarterback on the minds of followers of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jaguars – the holders of the No. 1 and No. 2 overall selections, respectively – it’s a key question:
So, how high can a quarterback go?
If you listen to those who analyze the draft, not very – at least not in the Top 5, probably not in the Top 10 and perhaps not even in the first round.
Here’s how two top draft analysts see the Top 5 players at the position:
*Rob Rang, NFL DraftScout.com and CBS Sports: Geno Smith, West Virginia; Matt Barkley, Southern California; Mike Glennon, North Carolina State; Ryan Nassib, Syracuse; Landry Jones, Oklahoma.
*Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Smith; Barkley; Glennon; Tyler Wilson, Arkansas; Nassib.
And make no mistake:
Just because the draft gurus rank a Top 5 doesn’t mean they believe strongly in those players as can’t-miss prospects. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay said Friday he didn’t have a quarterback with a first-round grade, and Kiper said he had no quarterback in his Top 20.
“The wheels came off for all the quarterbacks at some point this year,” Kiper said. “That’s why teams right now are in the predicament they are – trying to figure this whole quarterback thing out and not overdraft guy when he’s not deserving.”
While Smith and Barkley were once rated as potential No. 1 overall selections, the duo’s draft stock has slipped to the point that Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey said this week there was no clear-cut section at quarterback. That’s a consensus, and time will tell if that changes in the coming weeks and months.
WHAT ABOUT THE SLEEPER PROSPECT?
The consensus among draft analysts is there is no clear-cut quarterback. That means no Andrew Luck and no Robert Griffin III at that top of the draft.
But while those players were the story on draft day last April, another rookie quarterback – Russell Wilson – nearly matched their success, leading the Seattle Seahawks to the NFC Divisional Playoff round after being selected in the third round of the draft.
So, who’s this year’s Russell Wilson?
To hear Kiper tell it, there’s little point in fans torturing themselves with the question, calling Wilson a “one-in-a-lifetime type of player.”
“How many 5-10 quarterbacks have been successful in this league?” Kiper said. “He’s one of those guys where you catch lightning in a bottle. You’re not going to find Russell Wilsons every year. You’re not going to find Russell Wilsons every 20 years. At the end of the day, don’t try to find that guy. He’s not there. That’s not going to happen.”
HOW BIG ARE THE INTERVIEWS?
Caldwell said he doesn’t put a ton of stock in the interview process.
At the same time, all information counts, and the interview process at the combine and in the rest of the pre-draft is important enough that Caldwell said the Jaguars will formulate different questions depending on the individual prospect.
“For some, we’ll focus on the player’s intelligence, or we may want to focus on this player’s character,” Caldwell said. “In other cases, we may just want to get to know a player or find out about his family. It’s part of the process. I don’t think I would ever not draft somebody or draft somebody solely on the interview, but it’s part of the checks and balances we do.”
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE DRAFT CLASS?
We’ve covered quarterbacks today, and discussed defensive tackles, outside linebackers, cornerbacks, defensive ends and offensive tackles in Part 1 of the primer. Here’s a look at four more notable positions in the 2013 NFL Draft:
*Rang, NFLDraftScout.com and CBS Sports: Chance Warmack, Alabama; Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina; Larry Warford. Kentucky; Justin Pugh, Syracuse; Brian Winters, Kent State.
*Mayock, NFL Network: Warmack; Cooper; Warford; Kyle Long, Oregon ; Winters.
Analysis: This is the best guard class in memory, perhaps ever, with Warmack being mentioned as a potential Top 5 selection. That’s strikingly high for a guard, but Warmack is considered by many the best player regardless of position in the draft. Many also consider Cooper a Top 10 player, and some believe he’s nearly as good as Warmack.
*Rang, NFLDraftScout.com and CBS Sports: Eddie Lacy, Alabama; Giovani Bernard, North Carolina; Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State; Montee Ball, Wisconsin; Andre Ellington, Clemson.
*Mayock, NFL Network: Lacy; Ball; Ellington; Bernard; Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina.
Analysis: Lacy is the only consensus first-round selection at the position, which more and more has been devalued in the draft in recent seasons. The belief among most NFL personnel people is that unless a back is a rare, elite prospect you can find value in the later rounds.
*Rang, NFLDraftScout.com and CBS Sports: Keenan Allen, California; Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee; DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson; Tavon Austin, West Virginia; Robert Woods, Southern California.
*Mayock, NFL Network: Patterson; Allen; Terrance Williams, Baylor; Austin; Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech.
Analysis: Overall, this is considered a down year at this position, with some projecting Patterson of Tennessee as the lone elite-level wide receiver. He is a player of enormous physical ability, but he played just one year at Tennessee after transferring from a junior college.
*Rang, NFLDraftscout.com and CBS Sports: Zach Ertz, Stanford; Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame; Travis Kelce, Cincinnati; Vance McDonald, Rice; Gavin Escobar, San Diego State.
*Mayock, NFL Network: Tyler Eifert; Ertz; Escobar; Kelce; Jordan Reed, Florida.
Analysis: The addition of Ertz and Eifert turned what would have been an average tight end class into a good one, with each a potential first-round selection.
WHAT’S THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN?
The combine schedule is hectic, stuffed and a bit confusing.
The combine divides the process into position groups, and while the prospects all go through extensive medical exams, psychological testing, measuring and interviewing, the high-profile things for public/media consumption are the media access and the on-field workouts.
The schedules for those events are as follows:
*Special teams, offensive line, tight end: Media access (Thursday), on-field workouts (Friday/Saturday).
*Quarterback, wide receivers, running backs: Media access (Friday), on-field workouts (Sunday).
*Defensive line, linebackers: Media access (Saturday), on-field workouts (Monday).
*Defensive backs : Media access (Sunday), on-field workouts (Tuesday).