In some respects, February to April is the three greatest time to be a football fan. Sure, September kicks off the new year, then there's the Thanksgiving games, etc.
But February features the Super Bowl and the scouting combine. Then in March you have the free agent signing and the draft build up. During April you have the draft, and then more free agents signing.
The anticipation is huge. Everybody starts making mock drafts, listing team needs and expectations, and predicting what the new year will be like. It's an exciting time. And personally my favorite as an NFL fan.
One of the events taking place during this exciting time period, as mentioned, is the NFL scouting combine. The last real chance for college prospects to impress the scouts and land on a draft board.
How did the Oregon players stack up?
Are there any first rounders?
Who's the best Oregon prospect this year?
All those questions will be answered as I rank the Oregon prospects.
1. Ed Dickson, TE
It's pretty clear Ed Dickson is the best prospect out of Oregon. He helped carry the Ducks team to the Rose Bowl, and had a number of impressive performances.
Dickson is also an decent blocker, and really contributed on the line throughout the year.
At the combine, he received mixed reviews however. His 40 time was quite well (4.67), he ranked third among the tight ends. Dickson got in 23 reps of 225 pounds, ranking fifth among tight ends. And his 34" vertical got him seventh place, while his 9'7" broad jump ranked fourth.
Averaged out, he ranks between fourth and fifth place. That's pretty decent. He was quick and agile throughout his catching drills, but failed to really impress with his catching ability. He was a fairly good receiver in his senior year after proving himself as a blocker...he's an all around good TE.
There aren't any major concerns, and I see him as a starting tight end in two years.
Combine Grade: A
Projected Pick: Late second to mid third round
2. TJ Ward, FS/CB
TJ has been cursed by injuries throughout his career, but has had flashes of greatness as a starter for the Ducks. He has great strength and athletic ability to make it as a safety, though he lacks great size.
He's a tremendous run stopper, and will more than likely get used on special teams and as a backup safety.
Ward led the safeties in the bench press, and is able to play either cornerback or safety. But will teams be able to get passed his size and injury issues?
Combine Grade: C+
Projected Pick: Fourth round
3. Walter Thurmond III, CB
Thurmond was a projected first round pick until his season long injury sustained in week four of last year.
He's got tremendous athletic ability, and is a great coverage back. Any Duck fan also knows he's a great leader, with great work ethic. Thurmond is also a decent return man.
Despite his good size and athletic ability, he does need to bulk up. His strength is less than adequate...but that can definitely be worked on. The only other major concern is his knees. After coming off of surgery, how will he recover?
Combine Grade: C
Projected Pick: Late third to mid fourth
4. LeGarrette Blount, RB
Blount obviously had the most to prove coming into the combine.
After the Boise State game was over, so was his career...or so we thought. Kelly backed off his original plan to suspend him for the year. He was let back in the Civil War, and showed off his stuff in the Senior Bowl as well.
In the combine he showed he has great NFL potential. The thing that scares scouts away is his obvious behavior and attitude issues, which have been a problem since high school. There's that and his speed.
All Ducks fans know he was never very fast, and that may hurt his stock come draft day.
He's a bruiser back, and has good footwork...but will that be enough for teams to get past his other issues?
Combine Grade: A-
Projected Pick: Late fifth round
Average prospect grade: B