The 2016 NFL Combine is the inflection point of draft season. Some players on an upward trajectory see their stock continue to soar with impressive interviews and workouts. Others see it halted by unfortunate measurements. A player coming in with a poor reputation or a lack of visibility may stand out among his competition, or he may do nothing new to separate him from the pack.
In here we have more names to know from this year's Combine - the ones who got hurt by the process, and will see their stock dip, whether it came due to measurements, workout numbers, injury news, or interviews.
No one had a more sobering medical review than Notre Dame's star linebacker. As Dr. David Chao suggested after viewing a video of Smith walking, the examination revealed that Smith has nerve damage in his knee to go with the torn ACL and LCL. Most teams believe that Smith will need the entire 2016 season to recover from his injury at this point. Smith believes he will be 100 percent again someday, but for a player whose game was built on extraordinary coverage range, this result is awful.
He'll carry an unfortunate connotation with his name into the NFL, having run the slowest 40-yard dash in the receiver group at 4.85 seconds. His vertical leap and broad jump were equally awful. Wilson, a six foot five receiver with 34 inch arms, is the perfect build for a tall possession receiver. But the Combine demonstrated that, as great as Wilson's size may be, he'll struggle to separate when he doesn't even have the quicks of tight ends who carry fifty extra pounds.
Robinson had a decent Combine, with a broad jump that hit the 54th percentile for defensive tackles and a three cone drill in the 42nd percentile. For a 6'4", 307-pound player with long arms and big hands, that's fine. The problem is, Robinson's appeal has long been tied to the belief that he's a rare physical specimen. For sure, he passes the eye test, looking like a bald, bearded Adonis in person. But if his athleticism is average for the position, and he didn't take over games (except against LSU) in his college career... What exactly about him should have a team spending a first round pick?
The NFL Combine was not at all kind to this Arkansas lineman. Even projected at offensive guard, the likely destination of the 6'4", 335-pounder, his measurements do not look encouraging. His 8.72 three cone drill is the second worst time in the last decade. His bench press, 40-yard dash, and short shuttle all rank in the tenth percentile or lower (meaning 90 percent of offensive guards did better than him) since 2000. Kirkland has plenty of power in his bulky frame, but with limited movement skills, he won't have many NFL suitors.
Why is it important to participate in offseason workout events? The answer is that, unless you are the clear-cut favorite at your position, there's always the chance that someone else will look better than you when they work out while you sit on the bleachers. Alexander thought that his college resumé, starting two seasons without giving up a touchdown reception, spoke for itself. But NFL teams were concerned about the total lack of interceptions in his college career, and hoped to see him show off some athleticism or at least participate in the cornerback drills. Alexander sat out, and proceeded to be overshadowed at every turn. Jalen Ramsey was the star attraction, and he did not disappoint in any of the drills. Vernon Hargreaves had explosive workouts and looked every bit the polished top ten prospect during the on-field drills. Ballhawking William Jackson had a blazing 4.37-second 40-yard dash, inserting his name into the first round discussion. Eli Apple ran a 4.40 and showed off his one-handed catching skills, and Clemson safety TJ Green ran a shocking 4.33-second 40-yard dash time. Is it possible that Alexander isn't even one of the first five defensive backs picked in the draft? It is now.
Scooby Wright III
As a junior coming off a forgettable injury-plagued season, Wright was somewhat of an enigma to NFL scouts. The hope was that the Combine would shed some light onto the missing parts of his prospect profile. The weigh-in didn't help with that regard. At 6'0" and with 30.5-inch arms, Wright has one of the smallest wingspans of any linebacker in recent draft history. His workout numbers were also rather pedestrian - He ran a 4.90-second 40-yard dash, and was a below-average finisher in the broad jump, vertical leap, short shuttle, and bench press. Wright has done his work with the reputation of an instinctive hustle player. It looks like, to have a shot at the NFL, he might need those qualities to shine.