New York Jets 2014 Scouting Combine Stock Report
Now that the NFL combine has reached its conclusion, NFL teams can take their notes and use them to reevaluate the players who did not perform up (or down) to expectations, causing a shuffle in the draft boards.
The tricky part is not to overreact to a single workout that consisted of a fair share of exercises that will never be performed on a football field. Combine results should be a way to cross-check observations from tape study—if a player looks fast on tape, he should run fast (and vice versa).
If the results from the combine do not collaborate with how the player performs on tape, revisiting a player's on-field evaluation may become necessary. From there, a team can decide if they had overrated or underrated a player in their initial evaluation.
Here is a combine stock report for some of the players the New York Jets would be most interested in.
All combine results are courtesy of NFL.com.
Stock Up: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
One of the players to gain some separation in a crowded group of wide receivers is Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews.
Matthews has a lot of quality attributes, but his speed was not viewed as one of them—at least until the combine. His official 40-time of 4.46 was higher than anticipated, causing teams to second guess their conclusions of Matthews' speed.
Matthews already had a good start to the draft process with a strong Senior Bowl, standing out because of both his ability and his work ethic—he requested tape of the opposing cornerbacks prior to the event.
Widely viewed as a second-round prospect, his faster-than-expected 40-time may be enough to convince a team to take a chance on him as early at the end of the first round.
Stock Down: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The tight end picture is starting to become a bit clearer after the combine, thanks in part to Jace Amaro's underwhelming performance.
Amaro is on the heavy side for a tight end that is more of the "receiver" mold than that of a traditional tight end at 265 pounds. His size clearly contributed to his ho-hum 40 time (4.74).
Amaro's time was far from bad, but his size and speed does not match the type of player that he is. At Texas Tech, he was rarely asked to block despite his larger frame. Based on his tape, teams view him as the second coming of Aaron Hernandez—but his measurables simply do not compare.
This is not to say that Jace Amaro will not be a quality player in the NFL, but the combination of his mediocre times and the success of his competition will cause his stock to drop.
Stock Up: A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Much has been made about the competition between the top three tight ends (Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins), but it was the lesser-rated prospects who had the most success at the combine.
Tennessee State product A.C. Leonard enjoyed a fantastic workout, running an impressive 4.5 40-yard dash. He posted 128 inches in the broad jump and looked terrific in the positional drills, according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com, who noted, "He showed some fluidity and caught the ball well. He’s an interesting player. I think he’s a solid day-three guy now after previously being a late day-three guy.”
Leonard will have to fight the small-school label throughout the process, but with this strong showing at the combine, he proved that he at least belongs in the NFL from an athletic standpoint.
Leonard will not be a Day 1 or Day 2 pick, but he may have made a good enough impression to be on the verge of being a middle-round selection.
Stock Down: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
One of the three first-round-caliber tight ends, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was one of the biggest "losers" of the combine.
But it wasn't for what he did; it was for what he didn't do.
Sidelined with a foot injury, Seferian-Jenkins was forced to sit and watch while his competition got to show off their skills. What is even worse was that he may not even be ready for his pro day because of this new injury, as he told NFL Network.
Seferian-Jenkins already faces an uphill battle in proving that his disappointing 2013 season was just a blip. He saw a huge decrease in his production and appeared to be disinterested in blocking at times.
This new setback will only make it harder for a team to take a chance on him in the first round. He has a lot of talent, but the increasing number of questions regarding his health and character will cause a lot of teams to pass up on this otherwise talented player.
Stock Up: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
One of the most complete corners in the draft, Kyle Fuller only increased his draft stock with a strong showing at the combine's premier event, the 40-yard dash. Fuller has won over most scouts with his physicality against the run and in press coverage, but there were some concerns regarding his long speed.
Fuller silenced those concerns with a 4.49 time, virtually cementing his value as a first-round-caliber player given his strengths in other areas of the game.
While it may not be their single most pressing need, the Jets have no reason to rule out using their first-round pick on a cornerback, given the uncertainty surrounding Antonio Cromartie's bloated contract. Rex Ryan's defense is dependent on quality cornerback play and the defensive-minded head coach is known to collect cover corners like fine diamonds.
Stock Down: Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
Michael Sam will be under more scrutiny than just about any other mid-round defensive end prospect in history, but he did not do himself any favors from an on-field perspective at the combine.
He ran a slow 40-yard dash (4.91), posted just 25.5 inches in the vertical jump and a ho-hum 9'6" in the broad jump, making him one of the worst performers of the combine.
As a pass-rushing specialist, Sam is supposed to be one of the more athletic players in the draft, but at the combine he proved to be anything but. The only way Sam was going to get drafted earlier than the fourth round would be because of his athleticism, but he proved to be little more than mediocre in just about every category.
The Jets may have had a use for Sam as a situational edge-rusher, but they may elect to take a pass on him even if he is available in the later rounds.
If Sam does fall to the end of the draft, it will be more because of his average athletic ability than his off-field issues.
Stock Up: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
While still battling questions surrounding his size, Odell Beckham, Jr. met or exceeded every possible expectation anyone could have had for him at the combine.
His tremendous hands and body control have been well documented, but he erased any concerns about his top speed with an impressive 4.43 40-yard dash. He showed off his agility with a 3.94 in the 20-yard shuffle.
The only stain on Beckham's workout was his bench press—he posted just seven repetitions. Luckily for Beckham, the bench press is virtually meaningless for wide receivers.
His size (5'11", 187 pounds) might still have teams looking for a "true" No. 1 receiver hesitating on Beckham, but his stock is only going to up after this weekend.
Stock Down: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
While his former teammate, Odell Beckham, Jr., excelled in just about every drill, Jarvis Landry was everything Beckham Jr. wasn't.
Landry posted a horrendous 40-time (4.77) that will cause at least a few teams to drop him a full round if not more. His 28.5" vertical jump will draw concerns as to whether Landry has the explosiveness to be a threat in the NFL.
One never wants to overreact to the results of a single workout, but Landry has all but destroyed any hopes he had of being a first-round pick. Teams looking for speedy, explosive players won't even consider Landry early in the draft with so many other options available in what is a very deep wide receiver class.
Stock Up: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
If Brandon Cooks was going to find a way to get drafted in the second round, he was going to have to have a big day at the combine—and he delivered.
With the second-best 40-yard dash (4.33, behind Dri Archer's 4.26), teams will salivate over Cooks' speed. He was also impressive in the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle drills, posting a 3.81 and 10.72, respectively.
Cooks is a bit raw as a prospect, but he has elements of speed and agility that cannot be taught. Because of his raw ability, many teams will rate him higher than a more productive player like Jarvis Landry who was far less impressive in his combine workout.
Meanwhile, with their massive need for a receiver that can stretch the field, the Jets should view Cooks as a viable second-round option.
Stock Down: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU
Kelvin Benjamin's workout was far from a disaster, but for a player who is supposed to get drafted because of his measureables, Benjamin underwhelmed in just about every category.
With an average 40-time (4.61) and vertical jump (32.5), Benjamin's supposedly elite combination of speed and explosion has now come into question.
Because of concerns about his hands and route-running, Benjamin needed to prove his athletic prowess at the combine. His mediocre numbers will hurt him more than a "normal" player because he was so reliant on his size and speed in college.
Benjamin is still in the conversation to be selected in the second round, but any hopes he had of being drafted in the first round evaporated with his forgettable workout.