STORY WRITTEN BY ANDREW SIEMER
The NFL off-season is in full swing with the NFL Combine being completed. Many players have made a name for themselves there, as well as some limiting their potential and creating a sub-par stigma. This is a few of those names at the top and bottom of the list.
Many players leave some time of eligibility on the table to pursue their professional careers. Whatever their reasoning be, it’s not always the best choice. This applies to 6’5″ 225 lbs. Mississippi State Wide Receiver De’Runnya Wilson who forgoes his senior year to enter the draft a year early. After a solid 3 years being the number one wide receiver at Miss St and QB Dax Prescott’s favorite target, Wilson produced an NFL Combine to forget. It was one of the worst performances this year, and depending on who’s asked, in the history of the Combine. De’Runnya ran an ugly 4.85 40 yard dash, and looked like he forgot to hold down the jump button during his vertical leap mustering only 28 inches. In comparison, Mike Evans, who is 6’5″ 231 lbs., ran a 4.5 40 yard dash and had a 37 inch vert jump at the 2014 Combine. Bucs fans know how well those numbers equal in the league. In the NFL, Wilson is going to have a hard time fitting in and will need to have a pro day of all pro days to make his premature graduation a success in the NFL.
Sometimes a player’s reasons for leaving early to reach the pinnacle of their sport is to avoid injury and start making money for themselves and their family as soon as possible. Unfortunately, for 6’2″ 223 lbs. Notre Dame Linebacker Jaylon Smith he was one game away from leaving early unscathed. In the final game of his junior year, Smith tore his MCL/ACL and is still unable to perform any drills for the combine and pro days. Someone who was looked upon as being a top 10 player in this year’s draft, the injury and lack of participation has put him in a position of being drafted in the late rounds. Major injuries at this stage of a career can be overcome, but his road to recovery is still a long one to be had.
There are some players who stick out their entire collegiate career in hopes of meeting their full potential and making it into the NFL as men ready to rumble. For 6’5″ 249 lbs. Ohio State Quarterback Cardale Jones this was supposed to be his intent. After a magical three game run to the National Title his junior year, Jones opted to return for his senior year and attempt to reach said potential. After a bumpy senior year, all eyes were on Jones and his ability to perform in the Combine to show everyone how talented he really was. Fate would have it that life has a sense of humor, the kind that has you laughing when people fall. After running an average 40 yard dash at 4.85 seconds, Cardale was seen on the sidelines with an ice pack on his hamstring, ending his day. With many questions surrounding him and his skills, Jones’ pro day is going to be the last time to fully showcase his abilities and prove his title run wasn’t a fluke. Also, with 14 players entering the NFL draft from Ohio State, their pro day will be overflowing with NFL scouts with criticism and negativity at the ready!
Some players walk into the combine fully prepared and ready to showcase their skills while having all eyes on them. As an already projected top 10 player, 6’1 209 lbs. Florida State Defensive Back Jalen Ramsey showed up and showed out. In the current NFL, the defensive back position is turning into a handful of stars and then everyone else. With Ramsey jumping a 41.5″ vertical jump and 11’3″ broad jump, his ability to go up and get the ball was completely highlighted here. His overall speed was showcased as well, as he clocked in at an impressive 4.41 seconds in the 40 yard dash. Ramsey did nothing but solidify himself as a top 5 pick and throw his name into the hat as a premiere back. He did so well he may even be the first defensive back picked number one overall since Gary Glick in 1956. Yeah, it’s been a while.
When the draft comes around and your team has a top 10 pick, you always want to watch the positions your team needs most. This year, the Bucs have to bring in some young and talented defensive players to build up a below average defense. One of said players who impressed on the defensive side of the ball was 6’4″ 273 lbs. Oklahoma State Defensive Lineman Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah is an edge rusher with scary speed, 40 yard dash at 4.63 as well as a more impressive 10 yard split of 1.59. He can also jump impressively high at 35.5″. All these stats were top 3 of all defensive linemen. For someone who looks like he could benefit from membership card to an all you can eat buffet he moves incredibly quick for an edge rusher. Combining him with an already established defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy and it could become a stout one two combo for Tampa’s defense. With the Bucs holding the number 9 pick this year, they would have to reach down to pick Ogbah in the mid to late first round, however after this performance, that reach became just a little bit shorter.
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