The NFL Scouting Combine starts in Indianapolis this week, and the whirlwind of workout drills and interviews will give some clarity to the offseason leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. That is, of course, if the following key questions can get answered.
How tall is Mitch Trubisky?
During a broadcast of Senior Bowl practices, Mike Mayock of NFL Network said that scouts told him that Trubisky might only measure in at 6’1. If that happens, his distinction as the draft’s top quarterback may come into question. Don’t think it matters? Russell Wilson of the Seahawks was the only quarterback 6’1 or shorter to start on a team with a winning record last season.
Update: He’s 6’2!
How much can Patrick Mahomes rise?
As it stands, the consensus ranking of the quarterbacks is Trubisky, Deshaun Watson of Clemson, and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame. Directly behind them is Mahomes, a big-armed athletic quarterback who worked in the gimmicky Texas Tech system. The distance between Kizer and Mahomes is minimal, and Mahomes can close the gap in Indianapolis. He may even push himself into first round discussion.
Will there be separation among the cornerbacks?
Currently, cornerbacks like Florida’s Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, Gareon Conley of Ohio State, Sidney Jones of Washington, and LSU’s Tre’Davious White could make cases for the first round. But in addition to Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State and Marlon Humphrey of Alabama, it may be hard for them all to fit in.
Will anyone break Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record?
The standout event of the combine continues to be the 40-yard dash, and Johnson’s run of 4.24 is reaching mythical levels. If there’s a player who could break it this year, it’s Florida State wide receiver Kermit Whitfield. In 2013 he set a Florida state record in the 100-meter dash. Whitfield is the favorite, but don’t discount Southern California cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. He runs the 100 meters on the USC track team, so he is well-suited for the 40.
Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette?
This is a question that teams will hotly debate leading up to the draft, and it’s a question that will permeate the combine. Both players are excellent, but stylistically different. Fournette is a 6’1, 235-pound wrecking ball who has the skill to match the Adrian Peterson comparisons. Cook is a better all-around back with more speed and receiving skills. Fournette can be a team’s offense. Cook can take one to another level.
Who is Adam Shaheen?
Right now, Shaheen is a small-school tight end who left lower-level Ashland University after his junior season. After the combine, he very well could be a hottest prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. That may seem strange considering Ashland has only had three players taken in the draft. But Shaheen is a 6’6, 277-pound former basketball player who should test well.
Who will size matter for the most?
The point of the combine is to get medical checks and true measurements of players. The latter could have just as big of an impact for a few players. While teams know the true size of senior prospects, they’ll eagerly anticipate hearing about the underclassmen who entered the draft. For Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, measurements will matter the most. Thomas’ draft range is right around the top 10, and if he has good arm length, he could secure a high spot. If he’s smaller than expected, teams will wonder what position in the NFL suits him the best.
What will the NFL make of Jabrill Peppers?
There is perhaps no more polarizing player in the draft than Peppers. Is he a versatile defender, or is he just a player without a position? At Michigan he played all over the place, with varying degrees of success. He’s registered at the combine as a linebacker, and that’s where he was used the most Michigan. But at 6’1 and 205 pounds, some teams may not see him as a linebacker.
Will movement on veteran quarterbacks take over?
While all the public eyes will be on 40 times and measurements, the real action at the combine will take place at night between teams and agents. Before a team can commit to Kizer, Mahomes, Trubisky or Watson, what happens with players like Jay Cutler, Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Glennon, Tony Romo and Tyrod Taylor? The future of those veterans could be decided in Indianapolis, and alter the outlook of the 2017 NFL Draft.