The games may end with the Super Bowl, but the conversation about the sport has become a giant almost all year long thanks to the ship of hope that is the NFL Draft. There have been simulated drafts for months, of course, while the stars of the university last season are preparing for entry to professionals. But, as there is nothing left to support football fans on Sunday (outside the XFL too new to be invested in the one that has not yet been invested), the focus is on April.
With the NFL Draft comes the hope that the teams identify that missing piece that can take them from competitors to contestants or playoff teams to an appearance in the Super Bowl. The beginning of the draft season begins next week in Indianapolis when hundreds of prospects descend to Lukas Oil Stadium to run, jump and bench press in our hearts.
As always, it is important to remember that the best performances in the combine do not always translate into the success of the NFL. But still, if you ask who you could watch, we have it covered. We contacted Josh Edwards, CBSSports.com NFL Draft expert, to get his ideas on a couple of issues related to the combine. You can read Josh's latest Mock Draft here and more information about him here.
Possible stars combined
Javaris Davis, CB, Auburn- A multi-year player in the slot for the Tigers, the 5 & # 39; 10 ", 180-pound Davis ended his career with a solid senior season, accumulating 43 tackles (1 for loss), two interceptions and six passes defended. The greatest asset is its speed, which has been unofficially recorded at 4.24 in the 40s.
“Javaris Davis is a guy that the average draft fan probably won't notice. But he has elite speed, "Edwards said.
Fun fact, Davis is a cousin of former NFL players Vontae and Vernon.
Anthony McFarland, RB, Maryland- The second season of McFarland did not coincide with the first in terms of production for the Terps, but it showed enough explosion to make you think that it will be fun to watch the combined exercises go by. He was slowed by an ankle injury last season, McFarland was reportedly timed by hand at 4.29.
Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama- Ruggs has received a lot of airtime in recent years as part of the Alabama threat quartet, but much of the conversation that addresses this draft has focused on teammate Jerry Jeudy. While Jeudy may be the most wanted guy, Ruggs & # 39; 40 might be Combine's most anticipated show. Several teammates intervened on Twitter with their thoughts, and the future candidate Trevon Diggs predicted an unprecedented time.
– Diggs (@TrevonDiggs) February 10, 2020
A 4.1 has never officially registered with the combine. It is also unlikely this year, but it shows how much his teammates believe in the speed of Ruggs. It is understandable for a boy who made Bruce Feldman's annual "Freaks List,quot; before the year.
KJ Hamler, WR Penn State- Hamler did more than his fair share of plays in two seasons with the Nittany Lions. He caught a total of 98 passes for 1,658 yards and an average of 16.9 yards per catch and left countless potential tacklers grabbing the air in the process. Hamler was timed by PSU trainers at 4.28 in the spring of last year, so it is likely to be another type to watch.
Don't combine superheroes, but they should be solid NFL players
Lynn Bowden Jr., WR / RB, Kentucky- Bowden, as Edwards points out, was a single-handed Swiss knife for the Wildcats last season, and finally lined up as quarterback when a barrage of injuries depleted the depth table there. He is listed as an open receiver who heads to Indianapolis, but Edwards believes there is also potential in the backfield, comparing him to another former Kentucky player to do everything.
"I've seen a lot of people suggest that maybe the runner is the place where I should play in the NFL." He simply has a real natural ability to make games. It reminds me a lot of Randall Cobb, another guy who left Kentucky, ”said Edwards. "He doesn't have elite speed, but he only has this innate ability to avoid tacklers. I think that's what makes him so special. I'm curious to see how he tries it. I don't think he's the fastest player, but he could certainly see him excel in some of those other exercises. "
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC- Pittman enjoyed a great season this year for the Trojans despite the abandonment of the quarterback. With 6 & # 39; 4 ″ 220, Edwards points out that he is not likely to be a "best combined player,quot;, but his combination of technique and size gives him the opportunity to "be a really solid player for quite some time." It will not necessarily turn on Indy, but it is still worth paying attention to a class of charged receiver.
Netane Muti, OL, Fresno State Being honest, the offensive lineman will never leave Combine. Its 40 times do not provide the same flash or dynamism as skill position players. But, Muti has a good athleticism for his position and could be present for a while in the league.
"He is a guy who has a little more athleticism in the guard position, but I'm curious to see how doctors return to him, because that has been a concern in the past," Edwards said. "I could see him having a long and prosperous career if it goes well."
QBs namely (outside of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa)
As with any year, the quarterback position is the most focused on entering the draft. This year, the two main prospects, Joe Burrow of LSU and Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama, appear to have separated from the group. But there are a couple of guys behind them that Edwards is interested in seeing in Combine and during the day.
“Jacob Eason from Washington is a guy I've been throwing a lot in the first round. It is such a forgotten kind. It has all this potential, a strong arm, but there were some concerns, ”said Edwards. "He transferred from Georgia, is a starter for a year. Some people say he doesn't have that leadership quality like Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa. There are concerns there. But for pure arm potential, Jacob Eason is a guy he could see a team falling in love in the first round. ”
Eason began his first year in Georgia with mixed reviews and then it was Wally Pipped by Jake Fromm when he was injured in the first game of his second season. After transferring to Washington and sitting for a year, Eason had a good season for Chris Petersen and company completing 64.2 percent of his passes for more than 3,100 yards and 23 touchdowns.
While Eason has questions due to the somewhat limited initial experience, Jordan Love of the state of Utah is more unknown because his numbers dropped significantly in his third year. Was it simply due to a worse cast? Or regression? Either way, like Eason, Love has a lot that explorers and fans will like.
“Jordan Love is a guy with whom I see some similarities with Patrick Mahomes. I know it's a dangerous comparison for what Mahomes has done in his early seasons. But, without a doubt, there are some qualities that bleed between those two types, "Edwards said." He is a guy who can move his pocket, has really great arm angles from which he can throw. My biggest concern is that his minimums are so low. When he feels frustrated, he just starts throwing the ball there and becomes someone to grab, which is not something he wants from his quarterback. "
Under the radar type to watch
Finally, there are always guys who fly a little below the radar and go to the draft. Each draft expert tends to have a type that they are big fans of and whose name begins to arouse rumors for April. For Edwards, one of those guys is the aforementioned Bowden. The other? Utah runner Zack Moss.
“It has a tremendous balance of contact. I love the way he is able to overcome those tackles, ”said Edwards. “It is a suitable pass receiver. Its production is interesting because one year, the Utah offensive demanded that it be more active in the passing game, but it was not used so much this year. "
Moss, a 5 & # 39; 10 "and 222 pound bowling ball, ran over 4,000 yards in his time with the Utes. The injuries sometimes delayed him in the past two years, but his production will take a look.
The 2020 NFL Draft Combine begins on Tuesday, February 24 in Indianapolis.