In less than three weeks, college football’s elite players will descend upon Indianapolis for the annual NFL Combine. Here, a fraction of a second or a quarter of an inch can make or break a player’s career.
It’s six days of being poked and prodded by complete strangers. Six days of running, jumping, lifting, catching and passing. Six days of proving they belong. The combine is every player’s big chance to make a name for himself and get his “stock” to rise in the process. One player who shouldn’t have any problems getting noticed this year is Missouri super-sophomore Jeremy Maclin.
For two seasons, Maclin impressed fans and frustrated opposing coaches with his blend of speed, vision and athleticism. Every punt or pass sent his way was another chance to witness something special. Rarely did he disappoint.
In 2007, as a red-shirt freshman, he set the NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a season (2,776.) He finished with 80 catches and was named to the AP All-American team. In 2008, he was again an All-American and somehow became even better, finishing with 2,833 yards and 102 catches.
Now that he has declared himself for the NFL draft, he must impress a new set of people, the scouts, at the NFL Combine. That shouldn’t be a problem.
Maclin has been consistently clocked at around a 4.3 in the 40. If he decides to run at the combine, that means he’s confident enough that he can deliver a time that is ridiculous. He stated all last year that his goal is 4.2. If he posts that, his stock will soar.
In his two years at Missouri, Maclin caught nearly everything thrown at him. He doesn’t seem to drop balls, ever. I don’t expect this to change when he takes his turn in Indy. Look for Maclin to impress the scouts with his soft hands and flawless technique.
Maclin’s success returning kicks as a freshman lead to less and less opportunities to touch the ball during his sophomore season. When they did kick the ball to him, however, he had an uncanny ability to find a find a tiny seam and get the big return. His field vision is remarkable and should have the scouts drooling.
Maclin is a pretty grounded young man without any off-the-field issues to worry about. He doesn’t crave the spotlight or show any signs of having a giant ego. He works hard, listens to his coaches and strives to be better each time he puts on the uniform. Basically, he is the kind of player every coach wants.
At 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds, Maclin isn’t undersized, but he isn’t a giant either. Tall, physical defensive backs will continue to give him problems until he adds some weight. The height isn’t that much of a negative because of his above-average speed and fantastic leaping ability.
Some scouts might view Maclin’s success as just a byproduct of Missouri’s high-octane offense rather than a true indication of his talent. There will also be some concerns as to how he will handle himself in a more typical NFL offense.
Overall, most experts have Maclin in the top-10 going into the NFL Combine. If he participates in the drills, there is a good chance that he’ll turn a few heads and maybe rise into the top-five. No matter what he decides to do, Maclin is a serious talent and will make some team very happy on draft day.