NFL Combine - Winners and Losers

Story posted March 8, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Joe Garofalo

Each year the top NFL prospects all come together to showcase their talents at the NFL Combine. Whether in the interview room, the weight room or on the field, a player’s draft stock can change at any moment.

In this year’s Combine, as with every year, there were many players who both helped their draft stock and hurt it. Here are five big winners and five big losers from the 2013 NFL Combine.

Five Winners:

Jordan

Dion Jordan - Defensive End/Outside Linebacker - Oregon

In the weeks leading up to the Combine there were as many as three defensive ends competing for the number one ranking at the position; after a week in Indianapolis there is only one. Standing at 6-foot-6, Jordan possesses rare pass-coverage skills and speed at the defensive end position. Showing up at the Combine about 10 pounds heavier than he was during the season, Jordan ran an impressive 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, good for third best at his position. He also showed off some explosion in the broad jump where he posted the fourth best number. A consensus first round pick going into the week, Jordan used a strong Combine to potentially place him top 5 in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Lane Johnson - Offensive Tackle - Oklahoma

Much like Jordan, Lane Johnson entered the combine as the forgotten third man at his position. At 6-foot-5 303 pounds Johnson has the size needed to play tackle in the NFL, but lacks a lot of experience. Starting college as a tight end, Johnson makes up for his inexperience with his above-average athleticism at the tackle position. A top five performer in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, three cone drill and 20 yard shuttle, Johnson possesses a great deal of raw size and talent which many coaches and scouts will love. He’ll still be the third tackle taken in the April, but with this performance he shouldn’t get picked later than the twentieth selection in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Cornelius Washington - Outside Linebacker - Georgia 

Washington spent most the season and offseason under the shadow of his college teammate, Jarvis Jones. But now after an outstanding performance at this year’s Combine, Washington may have gone from a late round pick to a potential second day selection. On the preseason Butkus Award watch list in 2012, Washington certainly possesses the ability to be a solid professional linebacker in the NFL. A top performer in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump and broad jump, Washington proved he could be a three-down linebacker at the next level and that he may be worthy of a 3rd or fourth round pick.

Tavon

Tavon Austin - Wide Receiver - West Virginia 

Tavon Austin, a smaller sized wide receiver, arrived at the Combine knowing he needed to run a fast 40-yard dash time or his draft stock would plummet, and that’s just what he did. Austin ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, which for a undersized potential slot receiver is outstanding. The 40-yard dash was not the only drill that helped Austin elevate his draft stock. Austin shined in the receiver “gauntlet drill” and other on-field activities all weekend long as he impressed coaches and scouts. With his skills as a receiver, rusher and returner, coaches will find a way to get him the ball as much as possible. Being 5-foot-8, he won’t be the first wide receiver taken, but his performance in combine could vault him into the first half of the first round.

Tyrann Mathieu – Cornerback - Louisiana State

For most players, the NFL Combine is a place to showcase themselves for the first time in months. For Tyrann Mathieu, this was his first chance to be seen in the public light in over a year after multiple off the field issues at LSU. Mathieu showed at the combine, and proved, that he is worthy of a selection as a slot cornerback and possibly a return man. Running a 4.50 40-yard dash and saying all the right things in his interviews, Mathieu helped to restore some of the draft stock he lost earlier this season. Though after only doing four reps on the bench press, many will question his work ethic and just how high should he be picked. Mathieu, much like Vontaze Burfict of last year, is a complete question mark in regards to how teams will view him come draft day, but a performance like this should land Mathieu near the fourth round.

Five Losers: 

Manti Te’o – Linebacker – Notre Dame

After being at the center of a media circus over the last two months, Manti Te’o arrived at the Combine with a whole lot to prove. In his last game he was taken apart by the Alabama offensive line and looked no better at the Combine this past week. Showing up late for a press conference and running a slow 40-yard dash, this once potential top 10 pick has slid to the bottom of the first round. Showing up lighter than his in season playing weight, the thought was Te’o would run fas. Te’o ultimately ran a 4.81 40-yard dash leaving many to question if he is a three-down linebacker in the NFL. The Notre Dame product claims that the pressure of the Combine was his undoing and that his Pro Day will be better. Regardless of what Te’o thinks, the media and coaching pressure will be much greater when Notre Dame’s Pro Day rolls around on March 26th

Star

Star Lotulelei - Defensive Tackle - Utah 

Through it was not completely his fault, Lotuelei, a projected top 5 pick, may have seen the biggest draft stock hit at the Combine. A heart condition was discovered during his physical before the Combine, keeping him from participating. He is scheduled to undergo more tests in Utah and hopefully he will receive positive news. A strong pro day performance could help Lotulelei recover his standing as an early first round pick.

Damontre Moore - Defensive End - Texas A&M 

Viewed by most as the top defensive end going into the Combine, Moore really disappointed. The once projected top 10 pick was less than stellar before hurting his hamstring during on-field the drills. The 6-foot-4 defensive end ran a 4.95 40-yard dash while only putting up 12 reps on the bench press. Moore will still be a first round pick, but without a strong pro day he will most likely fall to the bottom half of the first round.

Jarvis Jones - Outside Linebacker - Georgia

Jones didn’t work out at the Combine and teams could be worried that medical issues (spinal stenosis) could make him a high-risk pick. Injury issues have factored into Jarvis Jones’ career, despite the fact he impressed scouts towards the end of it. He is rated as one of the top five prospects, but there are less risky options for teams looking into a pass rusher. If Jones cannot come back with a strong, healthy pro-day performance, this once sure top-5 pick will slip into the middle of the first round. 

Ball

Montee Ball - Running Back - Wisconsin

Heading into the combine the storied Wisconsin running, Montee Ball, was fighting to maintain his late second to early third round grade. After a poor showing it appears the all-time college touchdown leader might fall all the way to day three. Running a slow 4.66 40-yard dash as well as a poor shuttle time of 4.4 second, Ball’s draft stock took a huge hit. Many of the successful running backs out of Wisconsin under Brett Bilema have had issues establishing solid NFL careers and it looks Ball may have an uphill climb in-order to not fall victim of that same problem.

Joe Garofalo is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email joepgarofalo@gmail.com