The NFL Combine is a place where NFL prospects can either help or hinder their NFL futures.
Dozens of prognosticators try to predict where folks will go, and which speed freak will end up on the Raiders.
Dozens of Huskies have gone through the combine and had varying degrees of success in the NFL.
This year there are two Huskies participating in the combine: Donald Butler and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.
Donald Butler: 6’1”, 235 lbs.
Butler had a fantastic senior year. He garnered awards for defensive player of the week vs. USC, as well as the postseason defensive player of the year for the Dawgs.
On the Huskies defense, he showed great leadership and instincts. I would say that his strongest suit, though, is his heart. His game is energy and emotion, and he makes up for his lack of speed with smart decisions and sheer desire.
At the Combine, he needs to show good strength and power, as well as good decision making. He may not be the fastest linebacker, but he gets himself to the right place on the field. He should show well in the jumps and the 40s, as well as the three-cone drills, but with so much of the Combine being measurements and statistics, it may be difficult for him to show his playmaking skills.
However, a team that does its research and looks at his performance on the Husky defense—despite their record—will find a diamond in the rough for certain. A team would get great value out of a third round pick on a player like Butler and would not be disappointed.
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim: 6’4”, 263 lbs.
As a four-year starter and the all-time leader in total sacks at UW, Te’o-Nesheim had a great college career. He was second-team All-Pac-10 both his junior and senior years. He played primarily as a defensive end in college, and commentators called his name during games for either tackles for loss, pressures, or sacks. He also preceded Butler as the UW defensive player of the year in 2008.
At the Combine, Te'o-Nesheim, the 2009 UW weightlifting champion, will show well in terms of strength, but his size and speed could be a challenge. In pro terms, he is a little light—about 30 pounds light—for a defensive end. He should do well in the swim and rip drills, based on his performance against talented offensive linemen in the Pac-10.
Depending on his performance, he may also get routed into the linebacker drills, where he may struggle in pass coverage but could earn a look as a run-stopping LB.
Similar to Butler, Te’o-Nesheim was a great leader and team captain for the Huskies. His effort set a great example for the younger players.
In terms of preparation for the next level, I believe that Te’o-Nesheim can play at the next level, but he will require some work to get to a starting role. He'd be a good investment of a late round pick (fourth through seventh) and will be in position to contribute to that team in 2011 or 2012.
Given the Huskies' performance the last couple of years, there are not as many players going to the Combine as in the past. However, Butler and Te’o-Nesheim carry the same high-quality pedigree as Huskies who have gone before them.
I believe Butler will most likely contribute sooner, but both of them have the tools to proudly carry the purple and gold to the next level.
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