Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford: I am actually a big fan of Stepfan Taylor, but anyone who has watched him knows that he isn’t a burner that is going to excel in the 40 yard dash. He is quick so he might do well in other drills, but he’s not an overly explosive athlete that makes his money at events at the combine. If he can run under 4.55 he should be fine, but any slower than that and (fair or not) some will start to overlook him for players who might have tested better. He looks great on a football field, not in a 40 yard dash. I personally won’t be docking him if he runs slow, but some will.
John Simon, DE, Ohio State: Much like Taylor, Simon is what many evaluators will call “a football player.” That might sound redundant or overly simplified, but you may have heard of players who are dubbed “workout warriors” because they look great doing drills or running a 40 yard dash but it doesn’t always translate to the football field. It is similar except in this instance when an evaluator refers to a guy as “a football player” they are often implying that he might not be the most spectacular athlete but he manages to be productive and gets the most out of what physical ability he does have. To me that is the perfect description of John Simon. He isn’t going to blow anyone at the combine doing drills or running a 40 yard dash, but he has a fantastic motor and he was the emotional leader of that Ohio State team. If he’s going to endear himself to any teams in Indianapolis it will likely be in an interview, not during a drill.
Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame: This might be kind of a low blow, but I really think Te’o is going to rub some teams the wrong way this week. First of all, he’s not going to run in the 4.6 range so I don’t think he’s going to do much to help his stock when he’s running or doing drills. Second, and perhaps most importantly, he will be under the microscope given the absurdity of his imaginary girlfriend story. I’m still not personally convinced by his version of the story, and NFL teams are going to dissect him and see if his story changes. I’m sure he’s been getting coached up on what to say for weeks to prepare for it, but I think it’s going to wear on him and I imagine some teams will be put off by his answers. This is obviously just my opinion, but if I’m not convinced by his version of the story and I’m not going to potentially pay him millions of dollars then I would be surprised if an abundance of NFL teams drink the kool aid. We’ll see what happens, but I can’t imagine he comes out of very many of those interviews having helped his stock significantly.
Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia: I wouldn’t have put Ogletree on this list a week ago, but considering he just got pulled over for a DUI his interviews with NFL teams are going to be much more unpleasant. NFL teams aren’t just going to be concerned about him getting a DUI (as if that isn’t serious enough), they are going to be confused as to why he would be stupid enough to do something like this just days before the biggest interview of his entire life. I actually can’t think of an appropriate analogy for how poorly timed this incident was for him, but even though he is an impressive athlete (he converted from safety to linebacker) his interviews are going to be incredibly important. Unfortunately for him there isn’t a good explanation for getting a DUI, much less getting one so close to the combine. He’s just going to have to take his medicine on this one, but it will be important to see how he handles it.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: I have been pretty outspoken about Jarvis Jones for the past few months, and that has mostly involved me saying that I don’t think he’s an elite pass rusher (or even a first round pick) even though there are some that maintain he is a top pick and even occasionally compare him to Von Miller. I don’t see that caliber of a pass rusher at all when I watch him, and I think there are going to be some people who are surprised at how he performs at the combine. First, I think he is going to run in the 4.75 range in the 40 yard dash which is likely slower than most assume he will run. Will that hurt his stock? Not on my board, but it might if you thought he was a good or great athlete. Second, he’s going to need to be medically cleared to even play football given his spinal stenosis. USC’s football team didn’t clear him and it ultimately led to his transfer back home to Georgia, so it would not be surprising at all if multiple NFL teams didn’t clear him and took him off their board completely as a result. That certainly won’t help him, and it’s one reason I think the combine might hurt his stock.