By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
ESPN’s Mark Schlereth calls it the Underpants Olympics is a semi-mocking tone, but while film study is far more valuable, much can be learned from comparing these incredible athletes by how fast they run, how high they can jump as well as getting an accurate picture of their height and weight.
A lot of questions can be answered in Indy and some players will shine and some will see their stock slide. This is part two of my 2013 Combine Preview:
Chance of a lifetime:
Terry Hawthorne (CB) ILLINOIS
A talented dual-threat high school quarterback, Hawthorne made the switch to defensive back shortly after arriving at Illinois. That natural athleticism is something to be valued at the cornerback position. Let’s face it cornerbacks are the most athletic players on a roster and have to move quickly to match similarly gifted wide outs, but the receivers have the advantage of knowing where they’re headed. The corner simply has to react, and that’s why fluid hips and make-up speed are vital. Hawthorne is still learning, but with nice size at 6’1 he already shows the tackling ability to make that side of his game a strength. Watch out for a big time improvement once he gets NFL coaching.
Da’Rick Rogers (WR) TENNESSEE TECH
Rogers’ exit from Tennessee wasn’t pretty, but time heals all wounds and now after keeping his nose clean he’ll look to resurface and move up boards. Rogers is a talented, physical and extremely tough receiver who should run well, probably 4.4s, and has the talent level of the top prospect. Look for for him to make an additional move after showcasing that ability.
Jordan Reed (TE) FLORIDA
Aaron Hernandez, I mean Jordan Reed, is a wide receiver playing tight end with the ability to run deceptive routes, change directions quickly and be a nightmare for linebackers to cover downfield. He might not bench press on par with bigger tight ends Dion Sims or Travis Kelce, but nobody was taking Reed for his blocking anyway.
William Gholston (DE) MICHIGAN ST.
Gholston won’t run a 40 time that blows you away but at 6’7 278 and ripped he’ll pass the eye test. He was underwhelming on the field and will remind some of his older brother Dashon who was similarly talented and proved the hustle and motor concerns were warranted. Without pads and dissected physically Gholston will help his cause even if the film isn’t stellar.
Must perform well:
Xavier Rhodes (CB) FSU
Rhodes has everything needed to be a shutdown corner. He’s a thick 6’2 217, extremely physical at the point of attack allowing him to play press coverage and re-route receivers. He is a fluid athlete and has shown good ball skills deflecting balls away from taller wide outs. The one question is his speed. His stock is dependent on the all important 40 time. If he could hit sub 4.5 he could go as high as top ten overall. A mid 4.5 could mean a slide down to the late first early second.
Justin Hunter (WR) TENNESSEE
Turn the film off and just look at Hunter from a physical tools standpoint and he’s on par with the elite prospects of the past few years like AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Justin Blackmon. The combine is the place for a guy like Hunter to make his mark and make everyone forget about his inconsistency and drops, at least for a while. A 6’4, 4.4 caliber athlete who can jump out of the gym will impress, but in order to go as high as his talent dictates he’ll need to.
Arthur Brown (ILB/OLB) KANSAS ST.
Undersized at 6’1 228 Brown needs to put some distance between himself and the other linebacker prospects in terms of his Combine stats to make up for that lack of physicality. If he doesn’t do so he could slide behind those bigger and more physical ‘backers.
Knile Davis (RB) ARKANSAS
Before his knee injuryDavislooked to be a first round talent with a 6’0 226 pound frame to run inside effectively and the 4.4 speed to break it outside and make big plays. The medical overview will be important to see where team doctors feel his overall health is at and needs to run well to avoid falling to the late round flier range.
Alec Ogletree (ILB) GEORGIA
The recent DUI just days before the already bright lights of Indy will expose all flaws, Ogletree’s lack of discipline will be examined in a big way. Not only does he need to explain himself and interview well, but now more than ever needs to display that superior athleticism he brings to the inside linebacker position to offset that costly off field transgression.