The Combine can make or break many college football players' dreams. This year is no different. These play makers were big time players in college, but can they carry that success in the NFL?
For some players, finding a true position is their main problem. Others want to prove they are more than a head case and many want to prove they have more to their game than raw speed.
These will be five of the most closely watch prospects at the Combine. Some should wow, while others may go home disappointed. Please comment and let me know what everyone thinks. Thanks!
Dorin Dickerson: 6'1" 222 lbs.
Fourth to Sixth Round Pick
Pros: Dickerson was asked to do just about everything at Pitt. He only played tight end consistently his senior year, and before saw time at linebacker and running back. As a receiver, Dickerson gets off the line with deceiving speed and rarely drops the ball.
He has the ability to become a match up problem with small corners and slower linebackers. Dickerson also shows good technique and no fear when blocking.
Cons: Dickerson is tiny for a tight end—6’1”, 222 lbs.—and many teams would rather see him play linebacker, receiver, or fullback in the pros. During the Senior Bowl, Dickerson practiced as receiver. At times, Dickerson appeared out of place and did not have hands where they needed to be. He did not look as consistent and crisp as many of the other receivers.
Our Take: Dickerson has great potential. He was a big recruit coming to Pitt, and he demonstrated great versatility and selflessness there. Dickerson has a very similar build to Arizona Cardinal Anquan Boldin. If Dickerson works hard at receiver, that is the kind of player he could become.
Carlton Mitchell: 6'4" 212 lbs.
Second to Third Round Pick
Pros: Carlton Mitchell is quickly creeping up many draft boards. He possesses big play size—6’4”. 212 lbs.— but has the speed to be considered a deep threat. Mitchell is just as respected off the field as much as he is on the field.
He is said to have great toughness, and he is not afraid to go across the middle. Mitchell is not just a deep threat; he runs superb routs for his height, and he will get involved with screens.
Cons: Mitchell has tremendous upside, but he needs to become more consistent with his hands. He often goes on sprees of dropping passes and he relies too much on trapping the ball against his body. This should improve with more practice in the NFL, and for only being a junior, it is not the biggest issue.
Our Take: Mitchell has a lot to prove at the Combine. He is rumored to run in the 4.4s, and if he can back it up, he may find himself being drafted in the second round. Mitchell’s terrific attitude and work ethic should also be on display during the drills.
He is said to be a guy who always smiles and looks positive. Look for teams to really take notice of small things like this.
Mike Williams: 6'2" 212 lbs.
Second to Fifth Round Pick
Pros: Mike Williams clearly has first round talent. He is a fairly big receiver—6’2”, 210 lbs.—and he uses it to his advantage. When on the field, Williams puts up huge numbers. He has the ability to be an effective route runner, along with being a deep threat. If Williams can get his act together, he could potentially become a No. 1 receiver in the NFL.
Cons: For everything good to say about Williams off the field, there is also something bad. He was constantly suspended at Syracuse, and he decided to quit the team this year. Not only does this question his character, but it also questions his love for football. Williams will be one of the most closely monitored players at the Combine.
Our Take: If Williams can get his head on straight, he could become a great receiver. However, teams will be very wary of drafting someone like Williams. I only see a few teams—Bengals, Raiders, and Cowboys—who would take a chance on him. Still, if he runs a good 40 and shows off his great hands, he could land anywhere.
Riley Cooper: 6'4" 214 lbs.
Fourth to Sixth Round Pick
Pros: Cooper is usually known for his great work ethic, but at the Senior Bowl, his athleticism was also on display. Cooper can run by most corners, but is also an effective route runner. He is also very good at getting yards after the catch. His combination of size and speed, along with the desire to block, makes Cooper very valuable to many teams.
Cons: Cooper was recently offered a contract worth a lot of money to play baseball. Though he declined, some teams will think he is not fully committed to football. Cooper was only really a go-to-guy his senior year. Some will wonder if he was just a product of the Florida system.
Our Take: Cooper is a massive receiver looking to run in the 4.4s at the Combine. Scouts should be pleasantly surprised to see just how athletic Cooper is. He is loved by teammates for his hard work and good attitude.
Cooper could definitely become a Pro-Bowl player on special teams and potentially start at receiver for an NFL team.
Jacoby Ford: 5'9" 181 lbs.
Second to Fourth Round Pick
Pros: Many scouts like Ford more as an NFL receiver than as a college receiver. He has a great chance of becoming a situational deep threat and he is already known as a great receiver.
Everyone knows about Ford’s speed but not many people know about his other abilities. He sees the ball in with his hands, is not afraid to block, and is improving as a route runner. Ford also has a great, sometimes cocky, attitude.
Cons: Ford’s size will hurt him greatly—5’9”, 180 lbs. He is built more like a running back than a receiver, but despite his amazing sprinter speed, only has average lateral speed. Ford will not get a lot of yards after contact either. He is often thought of as a sprinter before a football player, which many general managers do not want.
Our Take: Ford has already guaranteed a 40 time in the 4.2s. If he can run this fast, and potentially break Chris Johnson’s record of 4.24, he could see his draft stock soar—look what Heyward-Bey did last year.
Not saying that Ford will go in the top 10, but he could move into the second round if he, indeed, does run this fast. Regardless, Ford should see immediate playing time on special teams and situational downs.