For me, the best part about the month of February has never been the Super Bowl, and frankly, that is because the Detroit Lions have never been a part of it. The month of February is all about the NFL combine, which is happening this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I guess I can't complain why the Colts always get to host the combine, not as long as we have the Thanksgiving Day game, that is.
I admit it. I love the NFL combine. I love watching offensive linemen run the 40-yard dash and seeing the wide receivers do their gauntlet drills. There is nothing better than watching defensive backs back peddle their way up the draft board.
I don't watch the combine for Cam Newton, A.J. Green and Nate Solder. I know their names, and I have seen them play. I watch the combine for all of those other guys. The guys who have one last chance to prove themselves worthy of a higher draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft in April.
So after the first few days, I have seen a couple guys I wouldn't mind seeing the Lions take a chance on in the later rounds. Now, bear in mind, I have only seen the offensive line, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks take part in drills so far, so this is only a partial list of no-names from this year's combine. Maybe I'll get around to a part two in a few days after the combine is complete.
I think the most impressive no-name player I have seen so far is Ryan Bartholomew, a center from Syracuse University. At 6'1" and 302 lbs. Bartholomew is a compact rock of a man. And before all of you undersized center-haters get going, this guy is no Dominic Raiola.
Bartholomew benched 225 a position high 34 times. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds. Not only is he strong, but he is fast too. He packs a powerful punch and has quick feet as well. He will surely climb in a bunch of teams' draft rankings, as he seems to be a great project with tons of potential and upside. Kind of like Sammie Lee Hill a few years back.
Another player who caught my eye this weekend was small college wide receiver Ricardo Lockette from Fort Valley State University. The only reason I include Lockette as someone to watch is for his physical attributes.
While Lockette does have good hands, he needs a lot of coaching work with his routes and breaks. However, he measured in this weekend at 6'2" and 211 lbs. and ran the forty in 4.35 seconds. That is a great base of talent on which to build.
By all accounts, Lockette is a fiery competitor who works hard and tries to get better. The Lions need a deep threat to go opposite Calvin Johnson, and while he may not be game-ready just yet, Lockette could be a future star in the making, especially if his work ethic continues.
So those are the two players that have caught my attention so far. They could be great late-round pick ups if their respective positions have not yet been addressed.
What do you think? Who has caught your eye so far?