HUMAN GENO PROJECT: Geno Smith spent his weekend trying to convince scouts he's a Top 5 pick. Photo courtesy Joe Robbins/Getty Images

HUMAN GENO PROJECT: Geno Smith spent his weekend trying to convince scouts he’s a Top 5 pick. Photo courtesy Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After four days, the next — and perhaps most well-known — step in the pre-draft process is completed. The NFL Combine wrapped up in Indianapolis yesterday, and while to the naked eye it might’ve looked like a bunch of  guys running around in tights (perhaps to do nothing more than to help Under Armour sell apparel), there were definitely some winners and losers.

I’m talking about draft stock. How you go through drills and answer questions at the combine will do a lot to either help or hurt it. And while we can’t see what went on behind closed doors with the interviews, we can certainly grade what we saw on the field.

If I went through every player with my likes and dislikes, I could write a 50-part article series that would take us up to the first day of the draft. So, instead, I’ll just give you some highlights. And lowlights. Here are my quick notes following the NFL combine:


THAT'S NO GIRL: Christine Michael is a beast of a running back, and he showed just that this weekend. Photo courtesy Dave Martin/AP

THAT’S NO GIRL: Christine Michael is a beast of a running back, and he showed just that this weekend. Photo courtesy Dave Martin/AP

Guys Who HELPED Their Stock

Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
The combine is always a time for “workout wonders” to show off their skills, and Michael is just that. His 4.54 40-time was extremely-sluggish, but everyone knew he was going to be Usain Bolt coming in. But while Michael may have a low top-speed, he proved to be rather agile, turning in top performances in the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill. And as great as that was, it doesn’t even come close to his vertical jump, where his 43-inch leap put scouts’ jaws collectively on the floor.

Denard Robinson, WR/RB, Michigan
Robinson turned in a lackluster 40-time, where his official time was nearly a tenth of a second slower than the first unofficial time he ran, but his speed has never been in question. Rather, it was his hands, and over the weekend Robinson continually showed scouts that he has plenty of ball skills to be a competitive slot receiver. Of all his weaknesses, that was the one Robinson could really address at the combine and he did so almost flawlessly. Going into Indianapolis, people thought he might have an outside shot at the second round. Now, I think we need to seriously have that conversation.

Will Davis, CB, Utah State
You’re not going to find Davis on a lot of highlight reels from the combine, but I’m telling you I really liked what I saw. It wasn’t any of his drills — where his numbers were rather pedestrian — so much as what scouts call the “eye test” that left an impression with me. For the best example, I cite the backpedal drill. Davis was decently smooth in his pedal and opened up his hips fine. Then, as he sprinted backwards for the ball, he maintained speed while locating, leapt, and seemed to float in midair while the ball landed securely in his hands. None of that can be put on paper, but I’m telling you it was impressive.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Given how much we put the 40-time on a pedestal, you should’ve assumed this year’s winner was going to be up here. Goodwin came the closest to matching Chris Johnson’s famous all-time best 40-time with a 4.27. That’s the good news. The bad news for Goodwin is that it’s not like we didn’t already know he was fast. Even if Goodwin torched Johnson’s record, it wouldn’t change the fact that he’s sorely undersized. Any other year, that’d be a big red flag. But with such a lack of offensive talent in this class, Goodwin’s display of speed in Indianapolis may secure a spot in the second or third round.

Tyrann Mathieu, S, LSU
This one I put up here with a bit of asterisk. That’s because we don’t know how the scheduled interviews went, which is where Mathieu has the most ground to make up. Nevertheless, on the field the honey badger did all that he could to remind of just how good a football player he can be. His ferocity and radar for the ball makes up for being undersized. If his football prowess can do the same for his off-the-field issues, someone is going to take a chance on Mathieu fairly early.


MEDIOCRE MANTI: The Heisman runner-up failed to wow onlookers at the combine. Photo courtesy Ben Liebenberg/NFL

MEDIOCRE MANTI: The Heisman runner-up failed to wow onlookers at the combine. Photo courtesy Ben Liebenberg/NFL

Guys Who HURT Their Draft Stock

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi St.
Even in a year when the class isn’t loaded with defensive backs, Banks’ 4.61 40-time would be cause for great concern. Put it in here, now, in 2013, and it’s borderline disastrous. No one is doubting his excellent ball skills, which put him in the first round conversation to begin with, but he’s never going to be able to use those skills if he’s constantly getting beat. Add in the fact that Banks didn’t do anything to ease our concerns over how much strength is in that slender frame of his, and you have an all-around poor showing in Indianapolis.

Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
I said coming into Indianapolis, the one thing Te’o had to do was steer the conversation away from his off-field problems and remind us of why he was a Heisman finalist. After his workouts, I can say with certainty he did no such thing. Very little of what Te’o showed the scouts this weekend looked like first-round material. His 40-time was embarrassingly sluggish, his broad jump was decidedly poor, and the technique he displayed in drills was just okay. Before the combine, I couldn’t believe some teams were really considering not taking him in the first round. Afterwards, I’d be surprised if anyone still is.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
One of the things that supposedly enticed scouts to Hopkins was ability to create separation between him and defenders. That may be, but the numbers didn’t lend an explanation this Sunday. Hopkins was the second-slowest of all who competed in the 20-yard shuttle and turned in a lackluster 40-time just under 4.60. Many people went into Indianapolis thinking Hopkins was the best available. Now, that is very much up for debate. And in such a defense-heavy class, such debate could very well knock him out of the first round.

Aboushi Oday, OT, Virginia
One of the sort of lingering “knocks” against Oday was his lack of athleticism. That was on display during the first day of workouts where he failed “wow” in any of the drills. Whether it was the 40-time for speed, Bench Press for strength, or 20-yard shuttle for agility, Oday was just “meh” in Indianapolis. And all this from a guy scouted as a “surefire” starting left tackle? If this armchair pundit has his doubts, I’m sure the pros do, as well.

Johnathan Hankins, DL, Ohio State
I really wanted to see this strength on display that everyone has been talking about, but Hankins didn’t participate in the bench press. As for his quick footwork, it’s definitely there, but the combine proved it was more technique than actually god-given agility as he looked sluggish in the 20-yard shuttle. Those were the so-called positives. The negatives, on the other hand, were very much there. People question is his stamina and Hankins looked absolutely gassed by the end of his 40-time. And that 40-time, by the way, was the fifth-slowest amongst his fellow linemen. All in all, it’s probably not going to affect his draft stock too much, but I think he’s definitely outside the Top 10 for now.

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