The 2012 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, and it's now time to break down the performances of the Syracuse Orange and Rutgers Scarlet Knights NFL Draft prospects who participated in the seven-day event in Indianapolis.
I won't go into great detail about the grading system, except to say that for the past seven day I've been tracking and watching college-age men in spandex try to impress NFL scouts at the site of Super Bowl 46. I know the background on all the prospects and their expectations heading into Indy. So, without further delay, here's who I thought were the Syracuse or Rutgers football players who did or didn't make the grade at the combine.
Desmond Wynn, OL, Rutgers
Takeaways: Wynn, measured at 6-foot-6, 303 pounds, entered the NFL Combine as a projected fifth- or sixth-round selection and left as a possible early third-day pick.
Wynn was one of the top performers in the 40-yard dash (5.05 seconds, fourth overall), vertical jump (32.5 inches, second) and tossed up 28 reps in the bench press, which didn't crack the top-15 performances but is a number equal to former top-three offensive linemen draft selections selections, Joe Thomas (2007) and Jake Long ('08).
His workouts didn't stand out, but what Wynn needed to show at the Combine was his athletic ability and the willingness to grow as a late-round prospect. I believe Wynn did that.
The Scarlet Knight posted good enough numbers, especially in the speed/explosiveness categories, that will allow him to gain weight and muscle, while still being able to maintain the athletic ability that separates him from other prospects. If Wynn gets in the right situation with a good offensive line coach, he could be a future NFL starter.
Projection: Wynn went from a player whose name could be called very late in the NFL Draft, to probably assuring that he could be an early, day-three pick and a future NFL starter.
Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Takeaways: There was nothing outstanding about Jones' NFL Combine performance, however, there wasn't anything bad about it, either.
Jones (6-5, 265) posted an above average time for a defensive lineman in the 40-yard dash (4.87) and showcased his athletic ability and explosiveness in the vertical jump, leaping 35.0-inches, and broad jump, 120.0-inches, which were both top performances among all the prospects at his position. Jones was also impressive in the three-cone drill (7.07) and 20-yard shuttle (4.38), which were all above-average performances.
However, thanks to his tall, lanky build made him look a bit awkward in some defensive line workouts and showcased some flaws in his technique.
Projection: Coming into Sunday's NFL Combine workout, Chandler was projected to be anywhere from a third- or first-round selection. I don't think much changed for Jones, who didn't hurt his stock. I think he could be a solid late-second or third-round pick, but a big gamble in the first round.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Takeaways: Sanu's workout Sunday didn't start off well, as he posted a disappointing 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which for a prospect trying to secure a possible first-round selection wasn't good at all.
However, as expected, Sanu rebounded with a solid performance in the bench press (19 reps), broad jump (10-feet, 6-inches), three-cone drill (6.88 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.22), which all were above-average performances for a wide receiver.
During drills, Sanu showcased his great hands and balls skills making up for his straight-line speed. Now, its just a matter improving his 40-time during the Rutgers Pro Day, March 21.
Projection: I still think Sanu is a bit of a reach in the first round, but there's no doubt he will be an impact player at the next level, as he can catch the ball better than any prospect in the draft. If he goes in the late-second or early-third round, he will be a steal.
Justin Francis, DT, Rutgers
Takeaways: The slightly undersized Francis (6-2, 268) seemed to enter the Combine with a basic strategy of showcase your skills not your flaws, and I think he pulled it off.
Francis, who entered his Monday workouts as a border-line draftee, elected to not run the 40-yard dash because he's not know for his speed. Instead, he did well in the three-cone drill (7.05 second, fifth-best overall) and 20-yard shuttle (4.35, 14th).
However, the Scarlet Knight did not perform well in the bench press (23 reps) and was in the lower half of defensive line prospects in the broad jump (109-inches).
Projection: Francis does have a set of skills that could stick out to some NFL scouts, however, he'll need to showcase more at the Rutgers Pro Day, March 21, if he'd like to get himself off the undrafted-bubble. If I were to predict, I'd say Francis still goes very late in the draft.
Phillip Thomas, FS, Syracuse
Takeaways: Thomas (5-11, 198) stumbled out of the blocks during his Tuesday workout and really never rebounded from there, as his stock more than likely fell after the Combine.
Needing a strong showing in the 40-yard dash to secure, at least, a draft position, Thomas posted a disappointing time of 4.74 seconds, making him the fourth-slowest secondary prospect in Indianapolis. Thomas was hurt by a slow start out of the blocks and bad form running during the 40-yard sprint.
The former Orange, who didn't finish out his senior year because of an end-of-the-year suspension, also didn't stand out in any other workouts or drills and may have hurt his ankle in the process.
With all that said, Thomas is going to be one of those prospect relying on the friendly confines of a Pro Day, March 8, to prove himself as a NFL Draft selection.
Projection: From personal observation, Thomas has the ball-hawking skills to play at the next level, but, the bad 40-time and his inconsistency to wrap and tackle make him liability. Unless a team thinks they can fix his issues, then he's at very best a late-round selection. I think, Thomas will need to earn his way onto an NFL roster via free agency/practice squad.
Andrew Tiller, OL, Syracuse
Takeaways: Tiller (6-4, 324) had decent measurements, but, that's about all the good that came out of his NFL Combine performance, as his numbers were among the lowest of all the offensive line prospects.
In the bench press, Tiller did the second-lowest total of reps (16), while he ran a very slow 5.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Tiller was second-to-last in the vertical jump and dead-last in the broad jump.
Tiller was in the top half of both the three-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills, which measure quickness and lateral movement, but the performances weren't good enough to stand out.
Projection: Entering the Combine, Tiller wasn't projected to be a draft selection and unless he rebounds at SU's Pro Day, March 8, I'd say he will go undrafted.
Nick Provo, TE, Syracuse
Takeaways: Provo was just limited to getting measurements and team interviews, as he had just undergone shoulder surgery and didn't participate in any workouts. Provo (6-3, 237) entered the draft as a projected sixth- or seventh-round selection by NFLDraftScouts.com and his stock didn't rise or fall. Provo is expected to work out during Syracuse's Pro Day, March, 8, and his performance could go a long way in whether or not his name will be called in late April.
Projection: From first-hand observation, Provo is an NFL-caliber tight end prospect, who played in a pro-style system at SU and flourished. I'd predict that somebody will pick him sometime during day three of the draft.