North Carolina junior defensive end Robert Quinn is going to prove at this week’s NFL Combine that he is the most talented prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft.
It’s not like the 2011 NFL Draft doesn’t feature it’s fair share of athletic freaks—Patrick Peterson, Cam Newton and Da’Quan Bowers come to mind—but Quinn will prove to be head and shoulders above them all.
I expect Quinn’s combine performance to be such a shock to the system of NFL General Managers that Quinn will soon be in the conversation for going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.
Plus, Quinn didn’t even play last year; he sat at out due to a suspension. NFL Draft Guru Mike Mayock just recently chimed in on this possibility, saying he believes it's completely possible.
Quinn stands at a chiseled 270 pounds and stands at over 6’4. He has what I like to refer to as "Spiderman-long arms", meaning his reach is almost endless. His agility is of NBA shooting guard caliber, his first step might be in fellow UNC alum Lawrence Taylor’s league, and his top end speed is elite.
He is a human being built like a Ferrari.
At this week’s combine, I expect a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, a sub 4.3 three cone drill, a plus-35 vertical jump and plus 20 reps on the 225 pound bench press.
Who is the 2011 Draft's Most Talented Prospect?
And those are my conservative expectations.
I could see him running a 4.3, jumping over 40, running a 4.1 three-cone and hoisting 25 plus reps.
The kid’s motor is just high octane all the time; he never takes a snap off and he goes all out all the time. It is entirely possible that Quinn is that truly rare pass rusher who doesn’t lose speed when dipping and turning the corner but might actually accelerate during. To give perspective, Dwight Freeney and DeMarcus Ware are perhaps the only two pass rushers capable of this in the NFL currently.
Combine freak athletic skills with a high motor and you can see why NFL scouts have been salivating over him for years.
In addition, he is extremely flexible and could play in a 4-3 at defensive end or 3-4 as an outside linebacker.
While he is not an elite run defender like fellow junior defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, he still shows high effort and is a demon on weak-side pursuits. The idea of running a toss to Quinn’s side is just insanity.
Just because Quinn sat out last year does not mean that there isn’t quality film on him. Unlike Bowers, who only truly exploded his junior year, Quinn was a revelation for the Tar Heels his freshman and sophomore year.
Put on the tape of his sophomore year game against Boston College and you will see him absolutely abuse fellow first round prospect Anthony Constanzo. Quinn made him look like a turnstile.
In high school, Quinn was a three-time state-wrestling champion, which in of itself is impressive. However, what is truly freakish is that he won his third title while still recovering from a complex surgery to remove a tumor from his brain.
The fact that Quinn was such a successful wrestler combined with his impressive game film lends credence to the notion that Quinn already has an excellent understanding of leverage, a quality commodity when battling in the trenches.
While I believe that Quinn is not as raw fundamentally as a lot of other NFL draft analysts, I do believe that he is only scratching the surface of his talent.
While his ability to beat his man to the edge, dip and turn the corner is beyond elite, he will need more than a speed rush in the NFL. Luckily, he has shown more.
He has shown excellent timing on stunts, which will serve him well in the NFL, and his ability to shield his shoulders with his arms is impressive. I have also seen a semblance of a burgeoning rip move that could be lethal on the NFL level but it will need some polishing. He should also make a deadly stutter- step rusher, faking in then going out and vice-versa.
So again, Quinn is not totally raw, but nowhere near his ceiling.
Even missing his junior season due to suspension over improper benefits, which put a damper in his development both physically and mentally, Quinn will be an immediate contributor to whatever team drafts him even if it is only as a nickel rusher.
If Quinn is healthy for most of his career, I expect him to average about 12 sacks a year for the length of his career. That is Hall of Fame type stuff. So while Quinn have his red flags, both medical and character, I believe NFL teams will find them to be insignificant.
Especially after this week's Combine, where Quinn is going to set eyes on fire with his blazing workout times.