NFL Picks: What We’ve Learned From the Combine and Other Assorted Tidbits

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 11:30 AM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 11:30 AM GMT

The 2015 NFL Combine is now underway at the Lucas Oil Superdome in Indianapolis, Indiana with some 300 invitees trying to impress NFL coaches and scouts and will continue to run through this Wednesday (Feb. 25).

The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis and if watching Big Men in shorts run 40-yard dashes, bench press larger amounts of weight and participate in a variety of agility and mental drills thrills you, well, then I’m honestly a bit worried. Hearing it’s news that the top two projected QBs in this year’s NFL Draft—Florida State QB Jameis Winston and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota—are actually “going to throw the football” is tantamount to hearing that a man driving a pickup truck load of pumpkins to a Pumpkin Chucking (Punkin Chunkin) Contest will be soon be blasting the bleeding gourds from pressurized cannons high into the crisp Midwestern air. A QB throwing at a combine? What’s next, a man answering questions at an interview? How lame have we become? No sir, you can’t test drive the car, well...uh, just because. We have Stupid Rules around here and we wouldn’t be stupid if we didn’t follow them. Just buy the car. Please send a wet nurse, mi amor. I’m a bit dizzy.

Handicappers are always looking for some kind of an edge, but the only edge I see to be gleaned watching these NFL Combine proceedings—which have been airing on the NFL Network—besides for the potential employers who may eventually sign these young football players, would possibly be Fantasy Football players who might find an up-and-coming player they hadn’t seen before or something. This thing is a bit overrated and the feeling here is the General Public and Sports Gamblers could give that proverbial Rat’s Ass about this week-long showcase held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana each February.

Pretty much a Media Event in a way these days unless you’re a scout trying to find out how much Georgia RB Todd Gurley knee has recovered, the Combine lets NFL coaches, general managers and scouts watch over 300 college football players—allowed in by Invitation only—perform that semi-battery of physical emotional skills, and in all reality, some players do improve their reputations and eventual paydays by standing out here. One such player who has done so in these first couple of days is a guy by the name of Ali Marpet, a 6-foot-4-inch, 307-pound Defensive Lineman—out of Division III Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, in the Northeastern state’s Finger Lakes Region—who recorded the fastest time of any OL in the 40-yard dash, running it in 4.98 seconds, the only lineman to do so under 5.0 seconds. But the Wonderlic tests, 40 times and knowing that the Notre Dame K wanted to set a new bench press record for kickers at the Combine (he failed by 11 reps) don’t help the sports gambler that much, but knowing that Florida State QB Jameis Winston has a 9 3/8-inch Hand Size while Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has a 9 7/8-inch big hand may help those needing to compare the two projected First Round draft picks.

 

Some Guys Who Stood Out (Through Friday)
The first days were all about the OL and TEs, and there were players who stood out to me and some other NFL pundits, but the aforementioned Hobart kid Ali Marpet may be the most intriguing. Besides running the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.98 seconds) of all linemen, the only player from a D III school in Naptown also recorded the fastest 10-yard split (1.74 seconds). Marpet (Grade 5.4) started at LT for three years for the Statesmen, but may be moved to either a G spot or C in the NFL. He went the entire 2014 season without allowing a sack for Hobart and may have earned himself a nice payday and a First Round pick with his speed and presence at the Combine. Another LT who really impressed was LSU’s La’El Collins, a 6-foot-5-inch, 321-pound Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner (top OL in SEC) who has a reputation as one of the Tigers best linemen in school history. Collins (Grade 6.1) may have impressed to most in the first couple of days and ran a 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds. 

Another T who looked great, but was expected to was Florida’s DJ Humphries, Jr., (Grade 5.8) the winner of the 2011 Anthony Muñoz Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding prep OL, and the 6-foot-5-inch, 307-pounder ran his fastest 40 in 5.12 seconds and has 10-inch hands and 33 5/8” long arms and will no doubt be snatctched by someone quickly in the First Round of the NFL Draft (April 30-May 2).

Oregon OL Jake Fisher (Grade 5.6) is a 6-foot-6-inch, 300-pound native of Traverse City, Michigan and helped the Ducks get all the way to the first-ever CFP National Championship game where they lost to The Ohio State University. Louisville G John Miller (Grade 5.5, 6-2, 312) also looked good as did South Carolina G AJ Cann (Grade 6.0, 6-4, 311). The stock of Hobart’s Marpet stock probably rose the most—though most scouts knew of his speed—while LSU’s Collins looks like the Pick of the OL Litter.

Click Here & Take a Look at the 2015 NFL Draft Predictions

You Could Bet on This Stuff?
Yes. In this world this weekend, you could actually have had a bet on Rich Eisen’s 40-yard dash time (6.05 seconds, Over/Under -120, Bovada) and/or American Sniper.  

(48/1, The Greek) to win Best Motion Picture at Sunday night’s Academy Awards (ABC, 8:30 p.m./5:30 p.m. PT) in Los Angeles. So we’ve all obviously made it into The Future, Bubba. That was quick. Anyway, Bovada has put up a number of fun props in this new and crazy Niche Market, but if we can bet on a dude walking across a tightrope at the Grand Canyon, then we can bet whether or not anyone at this Combine—which runs through Wednesday (Feb. 25)—can run a 40-yard dash Over or Under 4.28 seconds. Here are the rest of the other Combine props odds that were offered by Canadian operator Bovada which involve players at this Combine:

 

Will Chris Johnson's Combine record 40-Yard Dash time (4.24) be broken?
Yes +400, No -700

Marcus Mariota 40-Yard Dash Time
Over 4.51 seconds -110, Under 4.51 seconds -130

Jameis Winston 40-Yard Dash Time
Over 4.82 seconds -130, Under 4.82 seconds -110

Fastest 40-Yard Dash Time
Brett Hundley -200, Bryce Petty +150

Most Bench Press Repetitions
Over 42.5 -110, Under 42.5 -130

Highest Vertical Jump
Over 42.5 inches -130, Under 42.5 inches -110

And they have also posted a line on whether or not the NFL Network’ Rich Eisen—who traditionally does so at this event and set a new personal record last year with a time of 5.98 seconds—can run the 40-yard dash in Over or Under 6.05 seconds, with -120 vigorish on either side.

 

Assorted QB Tidbits and Thoughts
The general feeling is that the two NFL teams with the top two picks in the NFL Draft—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#1) and the Tennessee Titans (#2)—both need a QB and are thinking about taking either Winston or Mariota and Titans GM Ruston Webster talked about ”swimming upstream” to find their new signal caller so Zach Mettenberger probably hasn’t totally gained Tennessee’s confidence. And there are always rumblings and thoughts about the QB position around the NFL. Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said Robert Griffin III would likely be the Skins starting QB in 2015 after a letter to season ticket-holders didn’t seem to have the former Baylor QB in its Future Football plans. Everything’ a crisis these days. Cleveland Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine admitted his team needs a QB with last year’s top pick Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) seeking treatment for alcohol dependency. The St. Louis Rams are reportedly being patient with the recovery of Sam Bradford. Buffalo held a meeting with Free Agency QB  Josh McCown as did their AFC East buddies, the New York Jets who may find a solid QB around 2034. New Oakland Raiders Head Coach confirmed that the talented Derek Carr would be the Black and Silver’s QB this coming season while the Denver Broncos all wait and pray for Peyton Manning to soon announce he’s coming back. Without the grizzled vet, Denver will have to scramble awfully quickly to find a new QB and no Peyton probably means No Fun in the Mile High City in 2015. He’ll be back. And my gut feeling is that my Chicago Bears will shock the world a little and cut bait with QB Jay Cutler and give new Head Coach John Fox a chance to build a decent team without having to worry about head issues. Probably best to have a QB that throws the ball to his own teammates.

 

Who’s Working Out in the Near Future
Saturday, February 21:
QBs, RBs and WRs

QB Watch List: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley, Garrett Grayson
RB Watch List: Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Ameer Abdullah, Duke Johnson
WR Watch List:  Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham

Sunday, February 22: DLs and LBs

DL Watch List: Leonard Williams, Danny Shelton, Malcolm Brown, Arik Armstead, Shane Ray
LB Watch List: Stephone Anthony, Paul Dawson, Bernardick McKinney, Denzel Perryman, Eric Kendricks, Shaq Thompson

Monday, February 23: DBs

DB Watch List: Trae Waynes, Marcus Peters, Jalen Collins, PJ Williams, Landon Collins

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