Unlike last year, when the Rebels had two first round prospects in Michael Oher and Peria Jerry, only one of this year’s participants—Dexter McCluster—entered the combine ranked by analysts among the top five at their position.
Both Jevan Snead and Greg Hardy entered the 2009 season with the fanfare and expectations associated with projected first round picks. CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco even projected Snead as the No. 1 overall pick for this year’s draft.
Fast forward to today, when Snead’s inconsistencies and Hardy’s injuries have both hoping to perform well enough for scouts to—maybe—have their names called in the third round.
When fans use terms like soulless or selfish to describe college players who leave early, think about the difference in paydays Snead and Hardy are looking at this year versus their 2008 projected draft position.
Now think of all the things you would do just to have a shot at it.
The 2008 NFL Draft saw nine defensive ends taken in the first two rounds. Good luck trying to convince me Hardy would not have been among the group. Even in limited playing time he had the numbers and every analyst report highlighted his upside.
Had Snead decided to leave last year instead of this, he would have walked into the combine with a 92 Grade from Scouts, Inc . After a 2009 season that saw 20 interceptions and lots of pocket anxiety, he’s graded at 57.
I am not insinuating Snead goes before Stafford, Sanchez, or Freeman in last year’s draft, but with a 92 Grade and no questions regarding decision making, he is in the conversation much earlier in last year’s class than this one’s.
All he would have had to accomplish at last year’s Combine is a good throwing performance.
Guess one thing we learned over the weekend?
Snead can throw the ball.
Snead’s decision to prepare for the combine at Houston’s PLEX training facility working with Jerry Rhome paid off in his throwing session.
Rhome is a character in sports the average fan knows exists—a sage the best turn to when they need advice—but rarely sees. He is credited with mentoring—among many others—a young Troy Aikman in Dallas. More recently, he worked with Alabama's Greg McElroy.
Whatever Rhome has been teaching, Snead proved a good student.
Snead looked confident, in control of his mechanics, and most disheartening to Ole Miss fans, the most accurate of any quarterback in his group.
The more throws he made the more you found yourself asking, “Where was this last year?”
Granted there was no defensive coverage in the route tree drills, but even an untrained eye could notice the adjustments receivers were making to throws from other quarterbacks in Snead's group, and the decided lack of them made for Snead's own throws.
Of the names in that group, Tony Pike struggled—a bit too much—on deep and out throws, and failed to quell questions about his arm strength. Zac Robinson rebounded from a listless week at the Senior Bowl and showed well, but did not have the type of throwing performance that ultimately changes his draft position.
Not that Snead did either. We all know he can throw with the best of them. What his performance did prove more than anything else is that he is coachable. Rhome’s influence was obvious, even in the short time the two prepared for Indy.
With half the league looking for a new starting quarterback in the next three years, Snead’s response to tutelage might be the deciding factor for a GM looking to fill that need with a developmental QB in this year’s draft.
A couple of ideas that we need to be open to after watching Snead’s performance at the NFL Combine:
With the lackluster performance—or absence—of other quarterbacks in front him, Snead could move up quite a bit from the fifth round projections he entered the combine with. Maybe even into the top five at the position.
We also learned that Snead responds well to good quarterback instruction, and—Ole Miss Fans must now admit—he might not have been getting exactly that these last two years.
Jeb Williamson covers Ole Miss Football as a Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report. He welcomes and appreciates comments. Click here to read other articles by Jeb.