The NFL Scouting Combine is an important piece of the draft evaluation process. Having the chance to sit down and talk to some of the prospects and see what they can do on a level playing field in the drills helps break some ties on the draft board.
Often times, more questions than answers surface after the combine, which seems to be the case this year. Here are 10 thoughts from the weekend in Indianapolis.
1. The No. 1 pick is still up in the air
The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs have a trade in place for Alex Smith per reports. The Chiefs still have a decision to make regarding free agent tackle Brandon Albert. And Star Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition that could seriously affect his draft stock. So, what is going to happen with the No. 1 overall pick? It's anyone's guess at this point, and the NFL Combine gave us more questions than answers. Luke Joeckel is the favorite, but Sheldon Richardson, Sharrif Floyd and Eric Fisher could all be in play as well. Oh, and they could trade the pick. This should be interesting.
2. The track is fast
Agents and players have no reason to be wary about the track in Indianapolis when making decisions about whether or not to run through drills. In total, 11 players clocked in at under 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash compared to six a year ago. Either this class is fast, the training has gotten better, the track has gotten faster or some combination of the three. Regardless, players don't need to fear the track at Lucas Oil Stadium in the future.
3. Injuries will play a factor
The injuries this year at the top of the draft could play a more significant role than they have in recent years. Star Lotulelei, Dion Jordan and Jarvis Jones all have issues that teams will need to check into closely. In addition, Tank Carradine could sneak into the first round given the positive news that has come out of the combine surrounding his knee injury. Medical evaluators will be earning their paychecks this draft season.
4. Sam Montgomery is, uh, honest
Sam Montgomery gave us a lot of material on Saturday, and we are grateful for that. But admitting to giving less than full effort when weak opponents appeared on LSU's schedule and revealing the high-stakes bets he had with his teammate Barkevious Mingo. Neither of those tidbits will rub NFL front offices the right way, but we appreciate the honesty.
5. Dee Milliner is a top 10 player
If you weren't sold before, Dee Milliner proved himself as a top 10 player by running a blazing 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. While he doesn't have the smoothest back-pedal technique, Milliner is physical and instinctive on the boundary. His 40 time proved he has the straight line speed to be a shutdown corner. He should come off the board in the top 10.
6. Manti Te'o needs a nap
Manti Te'o attributed his poor time in the 40-yard dash to the grind and stress of the combine process. Some people have criticized for that, but from one human being to another, I sympathize with the guy. I'm sure he was embarrassed and stressed out about his media sessions and interviews with NFL teams, so I don't have much of an issue with cutting him some slack. Mostly I'm just sick of hearing about him. Take a nap, Manti.
7. Christine Michael still needs to prove himself
Christine Michael had seemingly done everything right once Texas A&M's season ended. Having sat down with him on Friday, I was willing to believe that he changed. He blew up in on-field workouts but slept through two of his interviews with NFL teams. That's inexcusable and doesn't do much to change the common perception around him.
8. Mark Harrison is quickly becoming my favorite sleeper
Rutgers wide receiver Mark Harrison has the size and ball skills to be a true, No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. This weekend in Indianapolis, he proved he has the speed as well, blowing up in all of the major drills. On Friday when meeting with the media, Harrison knew he would have to workout well to prove himself. The production wasn't always there while Harrison was at Rutgers, but he has all the makings of an impact in the NFL.
9. Marquise Goodwin is a man of his word
On Friday, Marquise Goodwin told members of the media that he would run the fatest time in the 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. On Sunday, he made good one that promise, running a 4.27. He didn't break the record like he was hoping too, but Goodwin proved what most already knew. He's really fast.
10. The gap may be closing between Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher
Eric Fisher lit up the Senior Bowl and continued his positive momentum in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Luke Joeckel didn't do himself a ton of favors at the combine. While Joeckel is the safer pick, some are starting to think Fisher has the higher ceiling, which could make for interesting discussions in war rooms leading up to draft day.
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