NFL Draft 2012: 10 Combine Invitees That Should Stay Home
Every year, the media and fans alike become concentrated on which college players can help their stock at the NFL Combine and grow far too concerned with an event of such overblown significance.
When numerous elite quarterbacks inevitably decide not to throw and skill position players elect not to run the 40-yard dash or attempt the bench press, they're condemned for being too cautious to showcase their abilities and their skills are put into question.
However, that's often unwarranted and in some cases, participants are better served skipping events altogether than participating and leaving general managers, coaches and scouts to find an explanation for disappointing results.
In more extreme cases, players should skip the combine completely and concentrate on preparing for their pro day. We've witnessed too many stock-harming performances to declare the Combine a mandatory event for top prospects and with that being said, here are 10 invitees that would be better off staying home.
QB, Kellen Moore, Boise State
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Kellen Moore was an incredibly productive quarterback at Boise State, there's no doubt about that. If he is drafted, it will not be because of his performance at the combine, it will be due to his collegiate production.
Moore is a heady player who relies on instincts and sound decision making to be successful. Those are two attributes that are not highlighted at the combine.
If Moore attends, he will be asked to throw a deep ball and an out route, two of his biggest weaknesses. While he typically relies on timing to complete out routes and slants, it will be difficult to display that anticipation with a group of receivers that he's never thrown to before.
QB, Case Keenum, Houston
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Similar to Moore, Case Keenum's draft stock is completely reliant on his production for the Cougars at this juncture. He doesn't have an overwhelming skill-set and there isn't a lot of room for him to raise his stock at the Combine.
Keenum has a different set of worries than Moore though. He will be bombarded with questions about his durability—mainly concerning an ACL injury suffered in 2010—and his potential for growth after six years in college will be brought up during interviews.
NFL teams will also wonder if Keenum is shrinking, after his height listing fell from 6'2" to 6'1" and now stands 6'0⅝" over the course of one year. An accurate reading at the combine could further damage his NFL stock.
RB, Chris Polk, Washington
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It's well known that power backs typically don't fare very well at the NFL Combine, which glorifies athletic players who have great burst and agility—Chris Polk is not one of those players.
The former Huskies running back leaves a lot of speed and acceleration to desire and will likely hurt his stock more than he helps it at the Combine. He lacks explosion through the hole and doesn't have that lateral quickness that impresses the attending NFL scouts.
Polk will not have a great showing in the 40-yard dash or the position-specific drills and would be smart to concentrate on dropping a few pounds and improving his times for his pro day.
RB, Marc Tyler, Southern California
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Marc Tyler is almost a perfect storm of the type of player who disappoints at the Combine.
The USC running back has shown little ability to contribute as a receiver and isn't a shifty back, nor does he have good long speed.
Tyler also raises some character and durability concerns. In the spring of last year, he allegedly spit on a female student and sexually assaulted another. Add into the equation an off the field struggle to maintain committed to football and you have yourself a player who can majorly bomb his interviews.
WR, Kendall Wright, Baylor
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I know you must be asking yourself why I've included one of the most explosive receivers in the draft on this list, but there's a very good argument for why he shouldn't attend the NFL Combine.
Kendall Wright is an impressive athlete, but he lacks two football specific skills that could drop his stock out of the first round with a poor showing at the Combine; he doesn't have consistent hands and he's not a great route runner.
At his pro day, Wright will be able to run routes designed to showcase what he does best, but at the combine, he'll have to run polished slant and out routes that he will struggle to perform well. Also, his best attribute, completing the deep ball, is often a trait that's not showcased at the Combine due to lack of timing between quarterback and receiver.
Inability to make a catch without using his body will also be exploited during the gauntlet drill, one of the key drills for receivers and tight ends.
OT, Nate Potter, Boise State
Nate Potter was once a top prospect at his position, but lack of progression and viability as a starting left tackle has resulted in questioning of his pro potential.
Potter won't perform well in the most heavily weighted offensive lineman drills at the Combine. He is not a natural knee bender and can get off balance in pass protection. He will be asked to quickly take a kick step and move laterally during the position drills, but I question his ability to do that well.
Potter won't blow you away with a great bench press either and could come up short at weigh-ins. He should consider waiting for his pro day while adding some bulk and improving his footwork.
DT, Devon Still, Penn State
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Devon Still has an impressive frame and the toughness is there, but I question how well he will perform at the NFL Combine for various reasons.
For starters, he is not a natural pass rusher and will struggle during the drills. Still is not quick off the line and he is too stiff when pursuing the quarterback. He is not as powerful as many coaches and general managers will expect. While I don't think he will be terrible at the Combine, I feel he will certainly disappoint.
Still, will need to lower his center of gravity and show that he is an improved athlete if he doesn't want to disappoint NFL teams.
DE, Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy
Jonathan Massaquoi is a bit of a tweener who will struggle to find his best fit, whether it's as a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end.
The argument can be made that he belongs at outside linebacker due to his lack of leverage against the run. His heavy feet and lack of leverage will be exploited at the combine. He does not change direction well and does not do well in space.
Massaquoi could be exposed at the combine for his lack of ability to play outside linebacker. Teams are already aware of his poor ability against the run, but if the Combine raises more concerns of his athleticism, his stock could drop further.
ILB, Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
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Dont'a Hightower is one of the few players on this list whose participation in the Combine I would guarantee, but that doesn't mean I would advise it.
Hightower will participate because he's such a highly regarded prospect, but the focus on quickness and athleticism do not lend to his skill-set. He has very stiff hips and slow feet, which are two skills that are showcased in the inside linebacker drills.
Hightower is an intelligent and instinctive player, but his lack of long speed and ability to change directions will deter NFL teams who plan to draft a three-down linebacker.
SS, Antonio Allen, South Carolina
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Antonio Allen is not a safety with good ball skills and his strength, which is in run support, will not be highlighted at the combine.
Allen doesn't have natural hands and doesn't have quick hips. He can be a bit stiff and his ability in coverage is limited by his burst and average speed.
The South Carolina product won't win over coaches with his quickness and he doesn't have the playmaking ability to shine in position drills.