NFL Combine: Saturday Top Performers
First of all, if you’re reading this, congratulations on being a diehard football fan. If this really is the first time you’re realizing it, welcome to the club. If you’ve known this for some time now, welcome back sir, it’s good to see you.
I say this because the NFL Combine, if you’re really watching it and following it, is the smallest of the NFL events. Of course we have the Super Bowl, the playoffs, the regular season, the draft, heck, even pre-season. But pre-season games get more recognition than the Combine.
Saturday marked day three of the Combine (days one and two are more of an orientation and a day to take down the players’ height, weight and other measurables.
OL Nate Solder, Colorado
(5.05 40, 32” vertical, 9’2” broad jump, 4.34 20-yd shuttle)
At 6’8” and 319 pounds, Solder is one of those guys scouts definitely wanted to see in person and for good reason. One knock on him is he definitely has room to grow and add weight to his frame. He looks like an overgrown tight end, but with the athleticism found in some of the game’s best defensive ends, this may prove to be a good thing. Solder ultimately did best in the workouts where he could display his footwork and athleticism. His leaner frame aside, there aren’t many negatives to this young man’s ability and he’s sure to be selected in the first round.
TE Virgil Green, Nevada
(4.64 40, 23 reps, 42.5” vertical, 10’10” broad jump, 6.90 3-cone, 11.63 60-yd shuttle)
I have to admit, I’ve never heard of the guy. But once I saw his vertical jump, where he lept five inches higher than the next best tight end, he had my attention. Now athleticism isn’t everything at the tight end position. It took Vernon Davis a few years to really fine-tune his game to the NFL with all the athleticism in the world, and sure, maybe it was maturation, maybe it was Mike Singletary’s guidance. But the larger point here is athleticism is only one piece of the puzzle in the NFL and the Combine can really only measure athleticism. Green displayed his abilities on Saturday by being amongst the leaders at his position in nearly every workout. He even had the second-best tight end vertical jump of all-time at the Combine.
OL Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
(7.25 3-cone, 4.40 20-yd shuttle)
Castonzo, in my opinion, has just the right blend of athletic ability to do well at the Combine (which he did) and the on-field success to merit more consideration than what he’s currently receiving. He’s currently like a late-first rounder but considering how solid he is across the board, he’s one of the few top tackle prospects who could feasibly contribute immediately for the team that selects him.
TE Jordan Cameron, USC
(4.59 40, 23 reps, 37.5” vertical, 9’11” broad jump, 6.82 3-cone, 4.03 20-yd shuttle, 11.56 60-yd shuttle)
Don’t confuse him with defensive lineman prospect Cameron Jordan out of Cal, this is Jordan Cameron. And although Green stole the show, Cameron had an outstanding day as well, placing in the top 5 in every single workout, something Green just missed with a good, but not great performance in the 20-yard shuttle. Cameron is a bit undersized and he’s not much of a blocker. The bottom line for him is while he is a great athlete; he still hasn’t put it altogether as a football player. He lacks instincts, isn’t particularly strong and in a word, he’s raw. He will need work but with his Combine, a team will definitely take a chance on him in the late rounds.
TE D.J. Williams, Arkansas
Although he wasn’t amongst the leaders in any workout except the 40-yard dash, Williams looked great in the positional drills (blocking, route running, pass-receiving). He did drop a few too many balls from what I saw, he was very fluid in his motions. After Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph, Williams and a couple other tight ends are looking to establish themselves as the second-best prospect at the position. His performance on Saturday may have solidified him as that No. 2.
Check back tomorrow as the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers hit the Combine to show their skills and I’ll have a full review of the best performers following their workouts.
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