It has become an annual tradition for Boise State fans to tune into the NFL combine coverage to see how former Broncos fare among the best of the best. This year is no different, with three players taking part in the drills, the measurements and the interviews.
Offensive center Matt Paradis, offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence all participated in the 2014 event. Of the three former Boise State players participating, it was Paradis who had the most to gain.
The NFL combine is a grueling process for each player as they are asked to perform several drills testing speed, agility and overall athletic ability. They are also put through a litany of interviews by various NFL teams, and the spotlight itself can prove daunting for players used to playing football as a team sport.
Let's look at each one of these former Broncos' performances in the combine in an effort to assign them a grade and determine how it will affect their NFL futures.
All combine results via NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
All draft projections and positional rankings via NFLDraftScout.com unless otherwise noted.
In an effort to obtain a consistent method of grading, it was crucial to come up with a formula that took into consideration key factors.
The first thing taken into consideration was how each player did in the various drills and measurements.
Performance results were compared to previous performances by the player and against the other participants in the combine. As a result, a letter grade was given.
Another grade was given to each player according to whether or not they met, surpassed or failed to meet performance expectations.
The final grade was determined according to how each player's performance helped, hurt or sustained their overall draft stock.
After grades were assigned, an overall grade was determined by averaging all three of those grades together.
Overall Grade: B
At 6'4", 303 pounds, Leno has the size and the athleticism to make it in the NFL.
Leno didn't run the 40-yard dash during the combine, but according to NFL.com, he did run the 20-yard shuttle in 4.40 seconds. That time was the second-best time in the combine among offensive linemen. He also had a vertical jump of 29.0".
However, the one thing Leno struggled with was the bench press. His 21 reps was a bit disappointing. Still, of all areas tested, arm strength is the one most easily improved. So, NFL scouts may give him a pass on that one.
Performance Grade: B-
As far as expectations go, it seems that Leno met most of them. He disappointed in the area of the bench press but looked great in the 20-yard shuttle and was decent with his vertical leap.
NFL.com scores Leno at a 5.25, which, according to its standards, puts him as, "NFL backup or special teams potential."
Expectations Grade: B
As to the question of whether Leno helped, hurt or sustained his draft stock, it seems for him he sustained his estimated fourth- or fifth-round status.
He did nothing surprising or dominant to raise his stock, but he did nothing so poorly that his stock was deflated.
Draft-Stock Grade: B
Overall Grade: B+
Lawrence decided to forgo his senior season at Boise State to enter the NFL draft.
At the combine, the 6'3", 251-pound defensive end didn't do anything to wow the scouts, but his performance was solid. He ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash and had a 34.5" vertical leap.
Those who watched Lawrence at the combine could definitely see his athletic ability. He has an impressive physical presence, and his quickness is obvious.
Performance Grade: B
Lawrence is ranked No. 10 out of 260 defensive ends, and he did nothing to diminish that ranking during the combine.
NFL.com scores Lawrence at a 6.1, which puts him in a category that predicts he, "should become instant starter." Boise State fans are probably not surprised by those kind of expectations.
Expectations Grade: B+
Lawrence was probably a bit of a mystery for some scouts going into the combine. As a junior, he had a great season, but with the Broncos' struggles, he may have been overlooked.
NFL scouts got to look at him up close and personal, and with his stature and athletic ability, he no doubt impressed. His draft stock wasn't hurt, and if anything, he may have been impressive enough to raise a few eyebrows.
Draft-Stock Grade: B+
Overall Grade: B
Paradis has a reputation for his hard work and dedication. He also has a knack for staying healthy. Those are all attributes that should help him be successful in the NFL, no matter how he makes it onto a roster.
His performance at the combine seemed good enough for scouts to keep him in mind on draft day.
At 6'3", 306 pounds, his size isn't an issue, but his 23 reps in the bench press wasn't impressive. He ran a 5.35-second 40-yard dash, which was average for his position, but he also ran a 4.46-second 20-yard shuttle, which placed him in the top five among offensive linemen.
Overall, his performance was a mixed bag, but he did enough of the right things to achieve a decent score.
Performance Grade: B
Going into the combine, Paradis wasn't expected to be a name called during the draft. Now that the combine has passed, that might still be the case.
However, Paradis seems like the type of player that will find his place in the NFL even if he has to travel the free-agent route.
One encouraging thing for Paradis might be the fact that NFL.com rates him at 5.02. That puts him as a "better-than-average chance to make NFL roster," according to its scale.
Expectations Grade: B
Paradis certainly didn't do anything to hurt his chances of being drafted. For him, it will probably come down to who is left on the table late when a team is in need of a center.
Paradis is ranked as the No. 12 center among 97 in the draft pool. That gives him a small chance of hearing his name late. However, free agency might be best for him anyway.
The advantage to going that route is that he and his agent can pick the best scenario for him that gives him the greatest chance of making an NFL roster. Sometimes, that is better than being picked up in the last round.
Draft-Stock Grade: B-