Detroit Lions 2014 Scouting Combine Stock Report
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is now in the books. Over two hundred players participated in the annual gathering in Indianapolis to interview with teams, receive extensive medical evaluations and show their stuff in the athletic drills.
Some players had strong performances that will send interested teams scurrying for more intensive review of their game film. Others raised flags about certain aspects that could send their draft stock in a tailspin.
Here are some players in whom the Detroit Lions are likely to have some interest and whether their draft stock went up or down based on their combine performances.
Stock Up: Mike Evans
Everyone knew that Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans was big. That was plainly obvious to even the casual fan stumbling across an Aggies game.
What Evans showed in Indianapolis is that he has the speed and burst that separates the proverbial men from the boys.
Evans ran an official 4.53 in the 40, with a pretty impressive 1.59 10-yard split. While that's not among the leaders at the position, to show that sort of acceleration and burst at almost 6'5" and 231 pounds is outstanding.
He ran the gauntlet drill with almost comical ease, reaching out and snatching the ball from the air like it was second nature and moving with a fluidity that suggests a much smaller man.
One of the bigger questions surrounding Evans has been his ability to get separation from coverage on set plays and not as the result of his quarterback frantically scrambling. The athleticism he displayed in Indy certainly suggests that Evans can do that at the next level.
He has to be a strong consideration for general manager Martin Mayhew and the Lions at No. 10 overall.
Stock Down: Kelvin Benjamin
Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has eye-popping size. His height (6'5") and weight (240 pounds) both topped all wideouts at the combine, and that body is packed with lean muscle.
Unfortunately, Benjamin did not show much explosiveness in drills. His unofficial 10-yard split of 1.66 during his rather pedestrian 4.61 official time in the 40 ranked near the bottom of all wideouts.
In addition, his performance in the three drills that comprise the Kirwan Explosive Index (KEI) were not outstanding. Here's a breakdown of the KEI from the man himself, former New York Jets general manager and current CBS contributor and Sirius NFL Radio host Pat Kirwan:
Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness.
Benjamin put up a 32.5" vertical, a 9'11" broad jump and 13 reps in the bench press, a performance that fell short of the Kirwan's standard for explosiveness.
Because his game tape shows a lot of flaws for a 23-year old projected to go in the first 45 picks of the draft, Benjamin needed to prove he was more dynamic athletically than he displayed. It will be harder to justify the risk of spending a first-round pick based on his efforts in Indy.
Stock Up: Khalil Mack
Sometimes a player can do too much to impress at the combine. Such is the case with University of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.
Heading into the combine, it was already dicey at best that Mack would fall to the Lions at No. 10 overall. After his jaw-dropping display of athletic prowess during Monday's workout, the chances went from relatively low to about as likely as the Jamaican bobsled team winning Olympic gold.
Mack proved himself to be one of the most explosive, dynamic athletes of the entire combine. His 40" vertical leap and 10'8" broad jump looked outstanding; some players look awkward or "sold out" doing a specific drill, but Mack made them look easy and natural.
When paired with his impressive game tape, including his tour de force against Ohio State, Mack's combine performance almost certainly puts him out of reach.
In fact, no less of a draft authority than NFL Network's Mike Mayock opined that he would make Mack the first pick in the draft, as relayed by Mike Huguenin of NFL.com.
Stock Down: Kyle Van Noy
Sometimes a picture says a lot. The ball bouncing off Van Noy's kisser epitomizes the close-but-no-cigar combine for the BYU linebacker.
It's not that Van Noy had a bad combine, per se. It's more that so many of his linebacker brethren performed a lot better.
His official 40 time of 4.71 is decent, but similarly sized guys like Jordan Tripp from Montana and Ronald Powell from Florida were a little faster.
His KEI score of 62.9 is solid, with 21 bench-press reps, 32.5" vertical and 9'4" broad jump. Yet others, like South Dakota State's Tyler Starr and LSU's Lamin Barrow, showed a little more explosiveness.
None of those prospects have Van Noy's smooth all-around game, so he's still got that in his favor. But for the Lions to seriously consider him in the first round, even if they trade back from No. 10 overall, he needed to display more athleticism.
Van Noy is still in play for the Lions at No. 45 overall in the second round, and his lackluster showing at the combine might actually make that more of a possibility. That's good for the Lions but not for the draft aspirations of Van Noy.
Stock Up: Crockett Gillmore
Colorado State tight end Crockett Gillmore has had himself quite an offseason.
First, he impressed many during the Shrine Game practices. From my own personal notes for Detroit Lions Draft:
He’s got good length and formidable strength for the position. He proved he could catch hot passes on quick slants, and he also went to the ground to flag down some tough throws.
His work that week earned him a promotion to the Senior Bowl. The hulking Gillmore took advantage of his opportunity there too, as noted by Yahoo's Rob Rang:
...the former defensive end impressed scouts immediately with his size and overall athleticism. He really caught fire during Thursday's practice, extending to haul in an impressive touchdown and continued his stellar play in the game.
Gillmore is a man who knows how to keep his momentum trending in the right direction. After measuring in with the biggest hands (10.38") of any tight end, the 6'5", 260-pound Gillmore showed decent movement skills and athleticism in his workouts.
He looked very fluid and proved he could use those giant hands to pluck the ball well away from his body in the gauntlet drill. While his speed is only average, Gillmore once again demonstrated he has legit NFL-ready skills.
Should Brandon Pettigrew depart via free agency, the Lions have to consider Gillmore in the fourth round.
Stock Down: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Unfortunately, Seferian-Jenkins (ASJ) was not medically cleared to participate in workouts. As noted by Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times, this caught both ASJ and NFL teams by surprise.
He was in need of a lift, as his final year with the Huskies did not exactly vault him up draft boards as much as he would have preferred. Per Candotta:
(ASJ)...is coming off a rocky final college season in which he had the lowest numbers of his three years at Washington and also was arrested for a DUI in the offseason.
The last thing Seferian-Jenkins needed was an unexpected injury. Not only does that raise additional flags, it prevented him from impressing NFL teams in the combine workouts.
Stock Up: Kyle Fuller
The NFL Scouting Combine is always a big deal for players coming off injury. For many, it's the first time they've done anything in front of NFL eyes in months.
One of those players is Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.
He missed three full games and parts of several others with a sports hernia, a malady which required surgery after the season. That kept him out of the Senior Bowl, as noted by Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
It was important for Fuller to show he's ready for action, and he did just that at the combine.
While he came in a hair short of the desired 6' height, Fuller made up for it with an impressive 38.5" vertical leap. His work in positional drills was quite impressive, showing fluid hips and excellent burst out of his breaks.
As Dane Brugler of CBS notes:
Great to see CB Kyle Fuller getting some love, he's deserved it the past few years. Very natural. I'll take him over Justin Gilbert— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 25, 2014
Of course, the Lions have an inside connection with Kyle Fuller if they have interest. His brother Corey was the team's sixth-round pick last year.
Stock Down: Marcus Roberson
Like Kyle Fuller, Florida corner Marcus Roberson was a possibility for the Lions after the first round. With a good combine, he could have been a real possibility at the No. 45 pick.
Roberson ran an official 4.61 40 time, which is awful for a corner. Take it from a corner who knows all about speed, Deion Sanders:
UF CB Marcus Roberson just ran a 4.59 unofficial. "That's a safety. What he ran is a safety (time), not a corner," Deion Sanders said.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) February 25, 2014
This came on the heels of Roberson putting up just eight reps on the bench press, a figure that bested just one other defensive back (his Gator teammate Loucheiz Purifoy, with six).
His disappointing day led Rotoworld to project a real plummet to his stock:
Marcus Roberson's 4.66 is ugly. Flailing to stay in the 4th round if he doesn't improve that.— RotoWire NFL Draft (@NFLDraft2K14) February 25, 2014
Roberson will get a chance at damage control at his pro day, but any hope of being a top 50 pick appears squashed with his poor combine.