Thought I’d start a combine feedback section for stock ups and downs.
As anyone who watches the combine coverage, or the resulting news coverage knows, the combine is not that big a deal to NFL executives.
These guys spend months working on developing their boards, which are likely 90% finished by the time the combine hits. The combine’s biggest features are the interviews, the positional skill drills, and the medical results. In that respect teams get to meet the players and spend some real-time with them, watch for any anomalies in the skill drills, and get a very, very in-depth look at medical notes.
Look at defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and defensive end / outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
In Lotulelei’s case, medical results picked up an irregular heart condition. He was pulled from working out at the combine in order to receive more tests. Now the immediate coverage was very pessimistic about his stock, and rightly so. This could potentially be a serious condition, but after additional tests they’re opptimistic that the result at the combine could have developed from a number of other factors (including dramatic weight loss as Lotulelei apparently lost ten pounds in the week before the combine. His stock is currently all over the place. He’ll continue to do evaluations and has been cleared to work out, but teams are definitely going to keep an eye on his evaluations. Until they can determine what the exact reason for his condition is, teams will definitely be on the cautious side. I would expect that he is out of the top ten without a medical clearance.
In Jarvis Jones’ case, the same issues that kept him from attending USC are popping up again. Jones has a stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column. Most reports indicate that Jones’ spine has not worsened since ’09. While this is good news, there may not be a more strict process for talent evaluation than the NFL Draft. Spending millions on a player who can’t stay healthy is a major no-no for NFL owners and GM’s looking to keep their job.
Media members have reported that multiple teams have both removed him and cleared him on their boards. Let me put an example out there for Jarvis Jones’ case. Rob Gronkowski entered the draft as a physical specimen. 6’6″, 258 Tight end with 4.62 speed, and that was after dropping some weight. He’s a mismatch nightmare, but the Patriots don’t take him til the 2nd round. The reason being he lost his ’09 season due to a back injury before entering the draft. Reports are that the Baltimore Ravens removed him from their board for medical reasons, while the Patriots cleared him. He’s still ultra talented, but has continued to find the injury bug.
Jarvis Jones has plenty of talent and all he needs is a team to love that potential to draft him. The good combine report is a good step in that direction for getting that partner in the draft.
Those two are the major news on medical concerns coming out of the combine. Next we’ll look at some positional drill results.