Oklahoma Football: Updating Player Performances from the NFL Combine
The 2012 NFL Combine has definitely been an interesting experience not only for the players involved, but also for the fans watching at home.
For some prospects, such as Oklahoma tight end James Hanna, the Combine has been incredibly valuable to their draft stock. Sooner fans have to be happy seeing Hanna perform so well, but it also raises the question, "If the Sooners had a tight end that runs a 4.4 40-yard dash with good hands, why wasn't he used more in the passing game?"
It's possible that Hanna just wasn't as explosive on the field with pads as he is without pads at the Combine, which only raises more questions about the importance of the Combine in the first place.
Regardless of its importance, the Combine has definitely proved to be an asset when determining how athletic and fast a player is. For this reason, all Sooner fans knew that linebacker/defensive end Ronnell Lewis was going to have a great workout, but how did the rest of the guys fare?
Here's a quick breakdown of the Sooners at the Combine.
James Hanna: Tight End
Stock: On the rise
40 Time: 4.49
Broad Jump: 10'2"
Bench Press (225 pounds): 24 reps
I've already praised Hanna's workout, so why not do it some more? Going into the Combine, Hanna figured to be a late-round draft pick that even had the possibility to go undrafted. After turning heads with his speed, Hanna's draft stock is on the rise.
There's still concern about his size (6'4", 252 pounds), strength and blocking ability, but Hanna has only helped his chances with his impressive workout. This could be a stretch, but after running a 4.49 40-yard dash, Hanna could develop into a decent wide receiver at the next level.
At the very least, Hanna could be a tight end that splits out more than blocks. Luckily for Hanna, that seems to be the trend among the best current NFL tight ends.
Oh, and if Hanna's tight end leading 40-yard dash time wasn't enough, he was also a top performer in the three-cone drill (6.76 seconds), 20-yard shuttle (4.11 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (11.43 seconds).
Donald Stevenson: Offensive Tackle
Stock: On the rise
40 Time: 4.94
Broad Jump: 9'5"
Bench Press (225 pounds): 19 reps
Ladies and gentlemen, meet this year's fastest offensive lineman, Mr. Donald Stephenson. What does this mean for Stephenson's draft stock? Not much, unfortunately.
While a 4.94 40-yard dash definitely proves Stephenson's athletic ability, his 19 reps on the bench press certainly leaves a lot to be desired. Stephenson has the size and quickness to play tackle at the next level, but his upper body strength has always been his weakness and he didn't help himself out much this week in that regard.
However, Stephenson did extremely well in all the other categories. If he can improve his upper body strength by March 14 (Oklahoma's Pro Day), he could improve his draft stock even more.
As of now, Stephenson figures to be a late-round selection, but some team might fall in love with his workout numbers enough to take him in the fourth or fifth round.
Ronnell Lewis: Linebacker
Stock: On the rise
40 Time: 4.68
Broad Jump: 9'3"
Bench Press (225 pounds): 36 reps
After watching Ronnell Lewis for the last three years, Sooner fans had to expect big things out of his Combine performance. At 6'2" and 253 pounds, Lewis is an athletic freak of nature.
He certainly didn't do anything to hurt his draft stock this week, but I wouldn't exactly say Lewis had a great workout by any means. While Lewis should receive praise for his 40-yard dash time and his position-leading 36 bench press reps, I'm a little disappointed by both his vertical and his broad jump.
Am I really supposed to believe that Donald Stephenson has a four inch higher vertical than Lewis? Maybe I'm not giving the big man enough credit, or maybe Lewis just didn't have a good outing. Either way, Lewis still posted good stats for his position.
Once in the NFL, Lewis is expected to move back to outside linebacker. He will have one more chance to improve his draft stock during the Sooners' Pro Day in March, but barring any injury, Lewis will remain a late-first to second-round option.
Jamell Fleming: Cornerback
Stock: On the rise
40 Time: 4.53
Broad Jump: 10'5"
Bench Press (225 pounds): 23 reps
Overall, Fleming had a successful showing at the NFL Combine. After running an unofficial 4.43 40-yard dash, his 4.53 official time has to sting a bit. However, it's still a respectable time for his position.
His 23 bench press reps were good enough for second among all defensive backs, and he also finished in the top five in the broad jump.
If anything, Fleming helped out his draft stock with his workout, but with the amount of quality defensive backs in the draft that should go ahead of him, Fleming is likely still a second, third or fourth-round draft pick.
Travis Lewis: Linebacker
40 Time: 4.88
Broad Jump: 10'2"
Bench Press (225 pounds): 22 reps
There's no questioning Travis Lewis' heart, intensity and willingness to play through pain, and after pulling a muscle during his 40-yard dash, Lewis can only hope that his Pro Day goes better.
Lewis has been the leader of the Sooners defense the past few seasons, and prior to injuring his toe this past offseason, I would have guessed Lewis was a first or second-round talent. However, playing through the pain certainly resulted in some minor setbacks and likely hurt his draft stock.
Still, Lewis is a great sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker. He is faster than his 4.88 40-yard dash would have you believe and he has a knack for recognizing plays quickly. He's going to be best suited playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense in the NFL, and he's likely coming off the board somewhere in the middle rounds.
Lewis will be a great addition to any team. He is passionate, smart and most importantly, a leader.
Ryan Broyles: Wide Receiver, Frank Alexander: Defensive End
Remember when Broyles was running around the field, catching anything that came his way and breaking school records? Yeah, okay, it wasn't that long ago, but I still like to reflect on the amazing career Broyles had as a Sooner.
His season-ending ACL injury was devastating, and not just in a, "this is terrible for the Sooners" kind of way. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. Alas, Broyles has persevered and battled back. He was on hand this week at the Combine, but did not perform in any of the running of receiving drills.
What Broyles did do, though, was put up an impressive 21 reps on the bench press, which was good enough for second-most among all receivers (and only one rep away from the leader).
It's great to see that his rehab is going well. Here's to hoping that he can do a little bit more at Oklahoma's Pro Day. Regardless, his draft stock should be slightly on the rise after his impressive display of strength.
Alexander is a guy that really needed to impress some scouts at the Combine in order to better his draft stock, but unfortunately, he was unable to perform in any drills this week.
Alexander hasn't disclosed exactly why he wasn't able to perform, but I can only speculate and assume his shoulder still isn't 100 percent healthy. It's not a huge deal that Alexander missed the Combine, but now there is a lot of pressure on his Pro Day next month.
The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year still has a lot to prove. Currently, Alexander is expected to be a late-round selection, but if his shoulder still isn't healthy by the time Pro Day rolls around, Alexander might even go undrafted. I can't imagine this being the case, though.
Alexander showed great improvement at exploding off the edge and getting into the backfield last season, and he's going to need to show that same explosion to all the scouts. With a good Pro Day, Alexander could be a fourth-round selection.