This year, after the combine was over and mock drafts began to show Bruce Campbell going to the Raiders, the fanbase gave out a collective groan: "Not another combine standout!"
Even worse, he comes from the same school as the Raiders' last first round draft pick, who happened to be a combine standout and whom many are already proclaiming a bust.
But showing outstanding measurables and athletic ability is no reason to scoff at a potential draft pick. If anything it shows a will to better himself, along with great work ethic, and, most obviously, superior physical ability.
Darius Hayward-Bey and Campbell aren't the first combine standouts from Maryland. They are merely two names in a long list of players from Maryland who increased their draft stock with impressive combine numbers. It must be something in the water.
Two notable players, Shaune Merriman and Vernon Davis, were also from Maryland. Without elite combine numbers, neither would even have been considered as a first round draft pick.
Other Maryland alumni, aside from Hayward-Bey, Davis, Merriman, and Campbell include: Jon Condo, Eric Barton, Jared Gaither, Kris Jenkins, D'qwell Johnson, Dominique Foxworth, and E.J. Henderson, just to name a few.
All of these players increased their draft stock with impressive combine numbers and most are a big part of their respective teams.
No one should be criticizing Campbell for his combine; he should be criticized for flaws in his game.
A common misconception is that Campbell is not worthy of a first round pick. I've heard people ask, "Why would the Raiders draft a player in the first round who shouldn't go until the fourth?"
Well, first of all, they're the Raiders and that's what they do. Look at last year: Heyward-Bey was a reach. Michael Mitchell, by some accounts, wasn't even supposed to be drafted, Matt Shaughnessy was projected to go in Rounds Five through Seven. and no one expected Louis Murphy to still be around in the fourth round. The Raiders don't follow the rest of the league's logic; they draft who they want when they want.
Secondly, Campbell is worthy of a first round pick. Prior to the combine, Campbell was a late first, early second round prospect. His combine numbers skyrocketed him to, by some accounts, a top 10 pick.
Campbell may be a reach at No. 8, but the chances of him falling to the second, let alone the fourth round, are very slim.
Don't get me wrong, Campbell does have his weaknesses. He has limited experience, only starting in 17 games for the Terps. He often relies on physical ability over technique, he sometimes plays too upright resulting in lost leverage, and he had an injury in college.
But some of his upside is overwhelming: 36.25 inch arms, a great asset in pass blocking, and 34 reps on the bench press, which is even more impressive considering his arm length. He also has great lateral movement, which is also good for pass protection, and he had the fastest 40 time among all offensive linemen. Athleticism like that is important when pulling, blocking on the second level, blocking down field, and in the ZBS (the blocking scheme the Raiders run).
Sure Campbell is a raw talent, but he is also the most impressive and athletic offensive lineman specimen in this draft—possibly ever.
Check out his highlight reel and you be the judge. Is he the next big thing or overrated?
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