Huskers’ NFL Combine Winners and Losers

By at February 29, 2012 | 9:59 AM | Print

It’s difficult to gauge how well a player performed overall at the NFL Combine based purely on raw numbers. You can’t see hip movement, starts, stops, and other seemingly small physical cues that end up being significant in a team’s eventual draft day decisions.

This data is often used to confirm original perceptions about a player due to game film or causes some tinkering with that player’s position on draft boards.

However, if a player performs poorly, this can easily drop him down a team’s board significantly, even if his game film and college numbers are staggering.

Players have also moved up several rounds in the NFL Draft because of eye-popping performances in Indianapolis.

For example, Darius Heyward-Bey (current Oakland Raiders wide receiver) and Chris Johnson (current Tennessee Titans running back) were perceived by pundits to be second or third round picks, but due to incredibly fast 40-yard dash times, they were selected in the first round.

Let’s examine which former Huskers may have moved up draft boards, cemented their projected draft position or potentially hurt their position due to their presentations at the NFL Combine:

Moved up the Board:

Lavonte David –

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 233 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.65 seconds (No. 7 fastest among LB)
Bench Press: 19 reps at 225 lbs. (No. 20 best among LB)
Vertical Leap: 36.5 inches (No. 8 among LB)
Broad Jump: 9’11” (No. 11 among LB)

Pre-Combine Round Projection: 2-3
Post-Combine Round Projection: Late 1-2

Summary: David weighed in approximately 13 pounds heavier than the weight his senior season’s playing weight. When initial NFL Draft projections were made, experts were concerned about David’s size and ability to handle linemen at the pro level.

Despite adding the extra weight, David showcased elite athleticism for a linebacker by running an impressive 40-yard dash (4.65) and hitting 36.5 inches in the vertical leap.

Teams should be less worried about No. 4’s size if he can continue to successfully add beneficial weight while maintaining his trademark speed and quickness.

Alfonzo Dennard –

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 204 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.55 seconds (No. 15 fastest CB)
Bench Press: Did not participate
Vertical Jump: 37 inches (No. 4 among CB)
Broad Jump: 10’11” (No. 10 among CB)

Pre-Combine Round Projection: Early 2-3
Post-Combine Round Projection: Late 1-2

Summary: Dennard measured in much larger than experts expected. At his current size, the former Husker should have no problem measuring up to NFL wide receivers, a concern that several teams have.

He wasn’t expected to be among the fastest cornerbacks in Indianapolis, yet posted a 4.55 second 40-yard dash. For comparison, former first round pick and current Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden ran a 4.6 time at the 2010 NFL Combine.

Dennard also showed off his elite hops with a 37-inch vertical leap. This will surely be an asset when covering tall wide receivers. Add these numbers to what teams see on No. 15’s film, and he looks to be one of the first corners drafted.

Cemented Their Position:

Jared Crick –

Height: 6’4”
Weight: 279 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.99 seconds (No. 29 among DL)
Vertical Leap: 31 inches (No. 29 among DL)
Broad Jump: 8’8”
3-Cone Drill: 7.47 seconds (No. 5 among DL)
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.40 seconds (No. 17 among DL)

Pre-Combine Round Projection: 3-4
Post-Combine Round Projection: 3-4

Summary: Crick’s draft projection remained uncertain heading into the combine due to his injury-plagued 2011 season.

Pundits had the former Husker being selected anywhere between the late first round to the fifth, but many came to an agreement of Crick likely falling to the third or fourth round.

This projection still appears accurate. No. 94 weighed in at 279 pounds, which is light for a 4-3 defensive tackle, but more than ample to be a 3-4 defensive end.

He didn’t post an impressive 40-yard dash time, but showcased his elite quickness in the three-cone drill, which is much more telling in regards to the success of NFL defensive linemen.

If the Nebraska native has a great showing at the Cornhuskers’ Pro Day, he may be able to rocket back into the second round due to his All-American level of play prior to 2011.

Hurt their Stock:

Marcel Jones –

Height: 6’6”
Weight: 320 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 5.67 seconds (No. 2 slowest among OL)
Bench Press: 13 reps at 225 lbs. (Last among OL)
Vertical Jump: 27.5 inches (No. 22 among OL)
Broad Jump: 7’11”
3-Cone Drill: 8.03 seconds (No. 7 slowest among OL)
20-Yard Shuttle: 5.12 seconds (Last among OL)

Pre-Combine Round Projection: 5-6
Post-Combine Round Projection: 7-Undrafted

Summary: Jones struggled throughout the event, finishing near the bottom of all drills. While offensive linemen are difficult to grade based purely on raw numbers, Jones’ lack of explosion and strength will only add to the fear teams have about his ability to stay healthy and pass block over the course of an entire season.

He does have great size which works in his favor, but he must have a fantastic performance at Nebraska’s Pro Day to cement himself as a draft pick rather than an undrafted free agent.

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