The 2013 NFL combine has come and gone, and some players helped themselves, but others really hurt their draft stock with poor performances. As we get closer to the draft, every piece of information becomes more vital, and the combine is a poor place to have a bad day.
Sometimes the combine workouts confirm what we have seen on film, good or bad. A workout can give us a glimpse of something that doesn’t show up on film. It’s a small part of the evaluation, but it can be an important part.
If the NFL draft process is like a 1,000-piece puzzle, the combine amounts to a few critical pieces. Bad performances can leave teams with a nasty impression, and it’s hard to work through that impression, as there isn’t enough time between now and the draft. Players still have their pro day workouts, but sometimes the damage can be too great for players to overcome.
Whether it was a bad day, a previous injury or simply a player's weakness getting exposed through the process, the following players had poor performances that hurt their draft stock.
Wisconsin center Travis Frederick struggled to move his feet at the combine and looked like a player who's not very athletic.
He ran the slowest 40-yard dash among all offensive linemen at the combine. His lack of athleticism was eye-opening because he was known as a good athlete.
Frederick got away with bad technique in college games because he was so athletic, but it appears he's not as athletic as he looked on film.
Frederick’s stock is going to plummet because scouts are going to see his bad technique on film and remember the lack of athleticism he showed during his combine workout.
Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner is a victim of expectations, and in some ways it is unfair to talk about his workout killing his draft stock. Before the combine he was projected as a very early Day 1 pick by most pundits, but he looked very stiff and lacked the explosive qualities that the other top-tier defensive prospects showed.
As it stands, Werner is still an elite defensive prospect who will have another opportunity to show his skills to talent evaluators during his pro day workout on March 19. His stock has certainly slipped because of the robotic nature of his movements during his workout.
However, it is just a workout in shorts and Werner could still be a very high pick come April. We might see Werner come back up draft boards, but his performance at the combine hurt his stock for the time being.
It was shocking to see the number pop onto the screen and at first I thought that there was an error with the stopwatch. Graham ran a 4.8 second 40-yard dash, one of the slowest times for all running backs.
Graham is one of the smaller backs in the draft, and the combination of small and slow is the opposite of what most are looking for in an NFL prospect.
Graham is supposed to be a change-of-pace back with the agility and change-of-direction skills to make defenders miss and run to daylight. On film, he shows an amazing knack to stop and start and make defenders miss.
On film, Graham is a much faster player than his time shows, but the stopwatch doesn't lie, and it is going to crush his draft stock.
Graham is still recovering from a torn ACL, and you could see him dragging his leg a little at East-West Shrine Game practices. Still, he didn’t look slow during drills, and his pro day 40-yard dash is going to be significant for his draft stock.
He will run on March 6, and it will be important for him to drastically improve on the time he ran at the combine.
Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor is a highly-regarded prospect with a very bright NFL future in front of him, but his performance at the combine was extremely disappointing. He ran a fairly slow 40-yard dash and followed that up by posting sluggish numbers across the board.
Taylor posted a poor 40 time of 4.76 seconds and followed that up with a horrendous broad jump of 9’2”, good for second-lowest among all participating running backs. His 3-cone and shuttle times were very average, which shows a lack of change-of-direction skills and very little lower leg explosion.
Taylor does not look weak and he runs hard, but his numbers were shockingly bad. His stock is reeling, and he will need to perform much better on March 21 when he will run again for scouts.
It’s possible that Taylor doesn’t test well and is a much better football player than what his workout showed.
Stanford is becoming a football factory as it is providing the NFL with loads of high-quality NFL talent, especially at the tight end position. Last year, the Colts drafted tight end Coby Fleener to start the second round, and this year the Cardinal have two tight ends that are highly regarded.
Zach Ertz is an excellent prospect, and Levine Toilolo is a player who most thought would get drafted as well, but Toilolo's performance at the combine might have scouts and teams changing their opinion on him. He left Stanford early and it looks like it may have been a mistake as he struggled to move during his workout at the combine.
Toilolo also had a few drops and didn’t flash good hands while catching the ball. His performance was very disappointing, and his stock is tumbling as he needed a good workout to solidify a chance to get drafted.
Nebraska safety Daimon Stafford does not look like a player who can move well enough to make a positive impact in the back end of the defense. In fact, if we are to rely on his workout at the combine to judge whether he can play, he probably shouldn’t be drafted.
As teams play more spread out with more receivers on the field, safeties are going to get tested, and they can’t be a liability in coverage like Stafford appears to be. He ran a relatively slow 40-yard dash time of 4.69 seconds. He followed that up by broad jumping 9’3” and vertical jumping 30.5”, both considered to be poor numbers.
Stafford needed a very good performance and he didn’t get that at the combine, and his stock is going to tumble as he simply isn’t athletic enough for the NFL.
Small running backs need to be very elusive to make it in the NFL because of the pounding their bodies will take if they can’t avoid contact. At 5’5” and 190 pounds, Rouse defines the small running back mold, and he won’t hold up in the NFL if he's not quick enough to evade bigger defenders.
Rouse ran a 4.8 second 40-yard dash, and that time is not enough for a player as small as Rouse is measured. It is hard to see Rouse making a roster being such a slow player and being so short; he won’t realistically help on special teams.
It makes it tough to consider drafting him, as he has the dreaded “slow and small” combination. Rouse is another player who needed a strong performance in Indianapolis, but he didn’t test well and it has his stock reeling.
There might not be another player who saw his stock fall quicker at the 2013 NFL combine than Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore. At one point, Moore was talked about as a potential top-of-the-first-round pick, but a closer examination of his work on film revealed some shortcomings.
He isn’t explosive and he lacks the range to close on the quarterback. He also stops his feet once he is engaged and won’t necessarily fight through a lineman. He came into the combine with questions to answer about his speed, explosion and playing strength.
We got the answer, but it isn’t going to help Moore in the draft. His workout started terribly with 12 repetitions on the bench press, and it went south from there. Moore ran a stiff, tight-hipped 40-yard dash of 4.95 seconds, but it looked worse than it actually was. He looked robotic and he didn’t look athletic on any level.
He pulled up at one point holding his hamstring, and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he came into the workout injured. It would explain the poor showing, but Moore’s problem is that his lack of athleticism is confirmed when you watch him on film.
Moore will have another shot to look good on March 8 when he works out at Texas A&M’s pro day. He will need to have a great day to stop the slide of his draft stock.