Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part II

Every year, over 300 college football players head to Indianapolis to demonstrate their prowess at the NFL Combine. Every year, hundreds more players get overlooked.

We’re here to give props to those athletes who excelled at their pro days, proving that they probably should have received Combine invitations. You can review Part I from mid-March here. For a refresher on the various pro day events, the NFL’s Combine page offers a succinct description of each.

As always, thanks to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt and his incomparable pro day results list. Now, on with the show.

OFFENSE

Double Darius: Eastern Michigan running back Darius Jackson ran two 40-yard dashes, in 4.38 and 4.35 seconds. That latter time would have tied for fifth overall, second for combine RBs, which is better than expected for a 6-1, 220-pounder. Complement that mark with great power (41-inch vertical, second for RBs; 11-foot-1 broad jump, also second) and quickness (6.82-second 3-cone, a woulda-been top time for combine backs). Jackson rushed for 1,089 yards in 2015, and set EMU’s record for touchdowns in a single season with 16.

Pretty Smitty: Iowa receiver Tevaun Smith had a great pro day, running a 4.38 40 that would have come in second for combine pass-catchers, top eight overall. The 6-0, 205-pound receiver jumped 38 inches vertically (fifth for WRs) and ran the 3-cone drill in 6.72 seconds (fourth for WRs). Smith caught 32 passes for 563 yards (17.6 ypr) and three TDs last season for the Hawkeyes.

I Want To Love You, BYT (Brigham Young Thing): One of the tallest receivers in the draft, Mitch Mathews of BYU (6-6, 222) ran a 4.47-second 40, which would have tied him for seventh-best among (more diminutive) receivers at the combine. He also had a 10-foot-9 broad jump (tied for fourth receiver) and a 36-inch vertical (tied for ninth). His 4.25 20-yard dash and 6.99-second 3-cone times didn’t set combine records, but they look strong given Mathews’ size. The big man led the Cougars with 54 catches for 737 yards (13.6 avg) and 11 touchdowns, none more memorable than this 42-yard Hail Mary to beat Nebraska.

Fun Fact: Mathews served his Mormon mission in Orlando, Florida. Sweet gig.

Save Ferris: Wide receiver Jake Lampman of Ferris State (5-11, 200) ran a 4.47-second 40, which would have put him in the top seven for combine receivers. He also had a 39-inch vertical (top four for WRs) and a 6.76-second 3-cone (tied for fifth WR). His 27 bench press reps is the best mark for a combine receiver since 2009. (It also helps him bury defensive backs, as you can see on his highlight reel.) As a senior, Lampman caught 43 passes for 717 yards (16.7 avg.) and seven touchdowns.

Bell, Biv, Devonte: What? Let’s try that over…

Delicious, Delightful, Devonte: Meh. A little better. But not as good as the numbers that wide receiver Devonte Robinson put up at Utah State’s pro day. The 6-1, 199-pound pass-catcher ran a 4.31-second 40, which would have tied him for the best time at this year’s combine. He also had a 38-inch vertical (tied for fifth-best WR) and 10-foot-8 broad jump (tied for seventh-best WR). In 2015, Robinson caught 20 passes for 326 yards (16.3 avg) and two touchdowns.

M-I-C… See You On Draft Weekend: Mighty mite receiver Jaydon Mickens out of Washington caught our eye at the East-West Shrine game, then caught many more eyes at his pro day. The 5-10, 174-pounder had a decent time in the 40 (4.51), but set himself apart in quickness drills with a rabbity 3.87-second 20-yard shuttle and a 6.58-second 3-cone. His shuttle would have come in second overall at the combine (top receiver), while his 3-cone would have tied for second overall (second receiver). In 2015, Mickens led the Huskies with 58 catches for 692 yards and two touchdowns. He also added seven rushing attempts for 44 yards and one TD.

Give Some Lee Way: This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned Jay Lee, as the Baylor receiver stuck out at the Senior Bowl. The 6-2, 215-pound wideout continued this trend at his pro day with a 6.75-second 3-cone drill, which would have been top four for combine receivers, top nine overall. His 4.53 40 won’t move him up draft boards, but his size and quickness should provide a boost to his stock. At Baylor, Lee caught 38 passes for 758 yards (a team-leading 19.9 avg) and eight touchdowns.

I Know A Little German, But This Is A Different Guy: German Moritz Boehringer forced a bevy of scouts to their Berlitz books, as the Titanic Teuton had one of the best pro days of any receiver in this draft, making top five for combine pass-catchers in all events. Measuring 6-4, 227 pounds, Boehringer ran a 4.43 40 (tied, top four wide receiver), leapt 39 inches in the vertical (top four WR) and 10-foot-11 in the broad (tied, top two WR; top seven overall), hustled through a 4.10 20-yard shuttle (top four WR) and topped it off with a 6.65 3-cone (tied, top three WR; top five overall).

As one might expect, Boehringer put up awesome numbers in the German Football League last season, catching 59 passes for 1,232 yards and 13 TDs for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. (The most disappointing aspect of Schwäbisch Hall Football t-shirts? No freaking unicorns.)

Field General Washington: Angelo State quarterback Kyle Washington (6-6, 220), ran two 40s that averaged out to 4.67 seconds. He had a 38.5-inch vertical, 10-7 broad jump, 4.36 short shuttle, and a 6.97-second 3-cone. He would have been, as you might imagine, at or near the top for Combine quarterbacks in almost all events. Last season, he did some serious damage for the Rams, completing 265 of 443 passes (60 percent) for 3,691 yards, 27 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Again: this is in 2015 alone, in a mere 11 games played (335 yards passing per game). Washington also led the team in rushing, averaging 6.8 yards per carry on his way to 831 yards and 15 TDs. And, sure enough, he caught one pass for a score, adding up to a total of 43 TDs, passing, rushing, and receiving on the year.

DEFENSE

It’s Dawn, Zimmer: Considering his size (6-3, 302), Ferris State defensive tackle Justin Zimmer ran an eye-opening 4.85-second 40 at his pro day – a comparable time to many fullbacks. His 7.01 3-cone would have tied with the fourth defensive lineman at the combine (the top 13 D-line times came from lighter D-ends). Last but most, his 44 bench reps would have been the overall best mark this year at the combine by 10. Zimmer terrorized the Greater Lakes Conference (GLIAC) with 81 total tackles, including 26 for loss (13 sacks). He also forced four fumbles, broke up five passes, and blocked one kick. If you want to see a D-lineman go after QBs like a doberman set loose in a meat locker, click here.

The Captain And Shaneil: Defensive end Shaneil Jenkins out of Division II Shepherd in West Virginia ran a 4.78-second 40, remarkable given his 6-3, 281-pound frame. He had a 7.25-second 3-cone, which would have come in 11th for all defensive linemen at the combine, and a 4.5-second 20-yard shuttle. Jenkins made First Team All-Mountain East Conference as MEC Defensive Player of the Year with 41 tackles (including 23 for loss with 13.5 sacks), three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, three pass breakups, and a blocked kick.

Maine Attraction: Oh, yay, how super original! Wait a sec…

The Bear Necessities: Remember when a store by that name resided in Faneuil Hall? They sold teddy bears? No? Anyway…

Fresh Bates: I hate myself. Trevor Bates, Maine defensive end, ran a decent 4.78-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, which would have scored in the top eight for combine defensive linemen (though, to be fair, at 6-1, 245 pounds, Bates is looking at a conversion to linebacker). His most impressive mark was a 6.75-second 3-cone drill, which would have come in second for all linebackers at the combine. The former Black Bear had 57 tackles in 2015, including 14.5 for loss (7.5 sacks). He also had two pass break-ups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

Wiiiilllllllssso-o-o-o-on! Fresno State will certainly lament the moving on of linebacker Kyrie Wilson. Running light at 6-2, 228 pounds, Wilson ran a 4.57 40 that would have been third-best at the combine for linebackers, sixth-best for safeties. His 40.5-inch vertical would have come in seventh overall, while his 6.99-second 3-cone time would have tied for third-best linebacker and come in fourth for safeties. As a middle linebacker last fall, Wilson made 74 tackles (three for loss) and forced two fumbles.

Better Get Ute To It: Like many other snubs, Utah’s Jason Whittingham (6-2, 238) would have been right in the combine linebacker mix, starting with a 4.66 40 that would have come in seventh for the position. His 35.5-inch vertical (tied, fifth), 6.9-second 3-cone (second), 28 bench press reps (second) and 4.1-second 20-yard shuttle (second) all would have made top five for linebackers at Indy. In 2015, Whittingham had 26 tackles (six for loss), including 1.5 sacks.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight: At least he should after this workout. Penn State cornerback Trevor Williams (5-10, 191) ran a 4.41 40, tied for seventh-fastest corner at the combine. His 10-5 broad jump would have tied the sixth-best corner, while his 6.84 3-cone would have come in fifth for the position. For the Nittany Lions, Williams earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention from conference coaches with 31 tackles (three for loss), three pass break-ups, and one interception. He’s probably on the Patriots’ radar after a big game in 2014 where he had two interceptions at Rutgers. Because, you know, Bill Belichick has a 24-hour loop of Rutgers game film running on his home screens.

UNIque Name, UNIque Player: Cornerback Makinton Dorleant from Northern Iowa (UNI) – all 5-11, 177 pounds of him – ran a 4.35 40 that would have tied for second-best corner at the combine, fifth overall. He leapt a 39-inch vertical (tied for fourth cornerback), a 7.03-second 3-cone (tied for 12th CB), and 16 bench press reps (tied for 11th CB). A Maryland transfer, Dorleant had 47 tackles last fall, including four for loss. He also had three forced fumbles, one interception, and 17 pass break-ups (that’s right: a full Hondo). On top of that, he returned kicks and punts, averaging 23.9 and 14.2 yards, respectively.

Enchanté Devonte: I should have used that for the first Devonte. Anyway, at Weber State’s pro day, cornerback Devonte Johnson (5-11, 180) had a 41-inch vertical leap (tied, second combine cornerback; third-best overall) and an 11-foot broad jump (tied, second CB; fourth overall), along with a 6.96-second 3-cone (11th-best CB). He also put up 15 reps on the bench, notable given his willowy frame. For the Wildcats, Johnson had 40 tackles last year, including one sack. He also broke up 11 passes.

Stay Gold, Pony Boy: SMU safety Shakiel Randolph – a spring-coiled 6-4, 213 pounds – had a 42-inch vertical at his pro day that would have come in first overall at the combine. In comparison to combine invitees, Randolph’s 4.59 40 (seventh for safeties), 10-foot-10 broad jump (second), 7.13 3-cone (ninth), and 16 bench press reps (tied, seventh) all would have made top ten for the position. Last year, Randolph had 39 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.

Running On MT: Safety Kevin Byard of Middle Tennesse State (5-11, 216) ran a 4.51-second 40 that would have made top four for combine safeties. His 10-foot broad jump (top ten safeties), 38-inch vertical (tied, second), 4.20 20-yard shuttle (fifth), and 6.73-second 3-cone (second) all would have made top ten for the position. For the Blue Raiders, Byard compiled 66 tackles and four interceptions, making First Team All-Conference USA in 2015.

COMBINE BESTS (With Pro-Day Comparables)

40-YARD DASH

4.31 seconds – Keith Marshall, Georgia RB

4.31 seconds – Devonte Robinson, Utah State WR

4.35 seconds – Darius Jackson, Eastern Michigan RB

4.35 seconds – Makinton Dorleant, Northern Iowa CB

BENCH PRESS (225 pounds)

44 reps – Justin Zimmer, Ferris State DL

43 reps – Vi Teofilo, Arizona State OL

34 reps – Christian Westerman, Arizona State OL

VERTICAL JUMP

42 inches – Shakiel Randolph, Southern Methodist FS

41.5 inches – Daniel Lasco, California RB 

41 inches – Darius Jackson, Eastern Michigan RB 

BROAD JUMP

11 feet, 3 inches – Daniel Lasco, California RB

11 feet, 1 inch – Darius Jackson, Eastern Michigan RB

3-CONE DRILL

6.49 seconds – Devon Cajuste, Stanford WR

6.58 seconds – Jaydon Mickens, Washington WR

6.6 seconds – Morgan Burns, Kansas State CB 

20-YARD SHUTTLE

3.85 seconds – Justin Simmons, Boston College FS

3.87 seconds – Jaydon Mickens, Washington WR

4.06 seconds – Jhurrell Presley, New Mexico RB

Any combine snubs with noteworthy performances that we’ve missed, please let us know in the comments section below.

Chris Warner tweets to stave off the fear of anonymity: @cwarn89 

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