Every year, we see players overhyped by the media and expected to go high in the draft that get drafted lower than expected. The same can be said for some players who are underrated. On draft day, they end up getting taken higher than thought.
NFL personnel are not ones to let the media and draftnics know what they really think. They do a great job keeping these thoughts in house. After all, why let it out?
In keeping with that thought, I feel there are five players who some thought lost value at the combine, but I feel will get drafted as high, if not higher than people thought a month ago. Because when you go back and look at ALL the tape, these players shine.
Darqueze Dennard – Cornerback – Michigan State
Dennard ran a little slower than expected at Indy and didn’t do the measurable drills. In the position drills, he looked a bit tight in the hips. When you go back and look at the tape, you see a physical press corner with ball skills. He defends the run very well and is an excellent tackler. I have no doubt that he will run much better at his pro day and tear up the agility drills. Dennard will be a starter the day he steps on the field for the team that drafts him.
Louis Nix III – Nose Tackle – Notre Dame
Nix played well early in the year, but then a knee problem from the 2012 season began troubling him. Nix missed the last part of the season after having surgery to clean up his knee.
Nix played this year at around 350 and came to the combine at 330. Nix’s numbers at the combine were not very good, but coming off knee surgery, he is still not 100%. In two weeks, he will get another shot at running and jumping at Notre Dame’s pro day.
When I look at tape, I see a prototypical nose tackle. He is big and powerful with good short area quickness. He does what a nose is supposed to do, occupy blockers and not give ground. He is a surprisingly good pass rusher for a big man. Look for Nix to be the first nose taken in May’s draft.
Derek Carr – Quarterback – Fresno
Carr actually had a very good combine and, arguably, was the best quarterback there. Critics will point to the USC game and try to make a case that Carr is overrated. When you evaluate a quarterback, you can’t just look at one tape. You have to look at least eight full games.
Carr had an outstanding season and did so while overcoming adversity. As many of you know, his son was born with complications in early August and had three surgeries before he was two months old. Still, Carr played at a very high level, and that tells you about his character.
Others want to believe that because his older brother David failed to have a great career, Derek is headed in the same direction. That is total foolishness. Carr has size, arm strength, pocket presence, accuracy, and leadership. He has the athleticism to keep plays alive with his feet, and he can throw on the run.
In a few years, when we look back at this draft, we will see that Carr is one of the two best quarterbacks in this class.
Ryan Shazier – Linebacker – Ohio State
Shazier is a junior entering the draft. His listed weight was 221 at Ohio State. Because of that, many felt that he would be too small to hold up in the NFL.
Shazier came to the combine at 235 and had, perhaps, the best overall workout of any linebacker. While he didn’t run a 40, he had a 42” vertical jump, a 10’10” long jump and a 6.91 three-cone. On top of that, he did 25 reps of 225 which equates to a 400-pound bench press. At his pro day yesterday, some scouts had him at under 4.40 which further solidifies his value.
On tape, Shazier has outstanding instincts and makes a lot of plays. He is the perfect Will linebacker in many 4-3 schemes. I can’t wait to see what he does as a pro.
Kyle Fuller – Corner – Virginia Tech
I look at draft lists for the corner position, and I keep seeing Fuller ranked as the fifth or sixth best corner. It amazes me. Fuller jumped out at me when I watched tape. He has ideal size, is physical, and can tackle. He can play press, off, and zone. What's not to like?
His combine workout ranks as one of the best at his position. In fact, he tested better than I thought he would. Come draft day, he will be a top 20 selection.
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