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NFL Combine 2018: Winners and losers

The NFL Combine is where all of the top draft prospects go to show off their skills to teams. While it consists of workouts in shorts and interviews, players can improve or worsen their draft stock based on their performances. Here are the players who helped and hurt their draft stock at the combine this year:

Winner: Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF

NFL Combine 2018: winners and losers
Shaquem Griffin (photo courtesy si.com)

Not only is Griffin a feel-good story, he is a good prospect and showed that in Indianapolis. He only has one hand, but hasn’t let that hold him back.  He started off by doing 20 reps on a 225 pound bench press, with a prosthetic hand. After that, Griffin furthered his good week by running a 4.38 40 yard dash, which is the fastest time ever officially recorded by a linebacker at the combine.

Griffin is a former safety that can do just about anything a defensive coach can ask of him. His last two years at UCF, he totaled 18.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles for loss. A lot of people thought that teams would draft him as a feel good story, but Griffin can make an impact immediately if a team knows how to use him. Look for him to get playing time early on special teams, before he can work his way into a starting lineup.

Winner: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU

D.J. Chark had the fastest 40 yard dash time of any receiver at 4.34. That will always get the buzz going surrounding a player, but he also showed his explosiveness with a 40 inch vertical leap and a 129 inch broad jump. Put these numbers with an averaged sized player and it would be good, but Chark measured at 6’3″ giving him a great chance to be a solid outside receiver.

His production in college wasn’t the greatest, but LSU hasn’t had consistent quarterback play in a while. He does have to work on his technique and the nuances of being a good receiver, but with some good coaching and work, he can develop into a star.

Winner: Derwin James, S, Florida State

With his combination of size, athleticism and speed, James was able to have a great combine. At 6’3″ and 215 pounds, he was still able to run a 4.48 40 yard dash. He also did 21 reps on the bench press and drew comparisons to Eric Berry and Jalen Ramsey during on the field workouts.

James had an injury in 2016 that limited him, but was still widely regarded as a star college player. He does only have three interceptions and needs to work on his ball skills, but there isn’t too much more for him to work on yet. His stock fell because he doesn’t have a set position, but with his size and athleticism teams will easily be able to find a spot for him.

Winner: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

The tight end position looked log-jammed, as people all had different tight ends at the top of their boards. Gesicki changed a lot of minds this weekend with his workout. The Penn State product was elite in a lot of the categories including: the 3 cone drill, the shuttles, the broad jump and the 40 yard dash. His 4.54 40 yard dash time was tied for the best out of tight ends and even beat some receivers.

Gesicki produced a lot as a Nittany Lion with 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns, but not too many saw this athleticism and explosiveness coming. He vastly improved his draft stock and set himself up nicely to possibly be the first tight end selected in this year’s draft.

Loser: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

NFL Combine 2018: Winners and Losers
Orlando Brown (Photo by sportingnews.com)

Orlando Brown is considered a top three tackle in the draft class by most, but did not have a great showing at the combine. While his 40 yard dash time got a lot of hate, that test isn’t really practical for offensive linemen. The most alarming thing was his lack of mobility in drills and his 14 reps on the bench press. He is a big lineman, whose strength is his physicality and strength, so 14 reps raises some eye brows.

This is still an All-American player, who is a mauler. The game tape doesn’t lie and it shows him physically dominating competition. If he doesn’t have the athleticism and lateral quickness to be a left tackle, he will, at the very least, be able to put his run blocking to work at right tackle. Brown still has a chance to be a first round draft pick and the combine will all be forgotten.

Loser: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

To get this out of the way first, most NFL personnel don’t put too much stock into the throwing portion of the NFL combine. The problem is that when a player isn’t accurate in drills though, it is really apparent. Falk continually had trouble hitting receivers in the drills and looked worse compared to other quarterbacks at the event.

It could have just been a bad day, as Falk did throw for 14,481 yards and 119 touchdowns in his career, but he was benched a few times in his senior season.

 

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