IDP Corner: Pre-Combine 2019

With the tomfoolery of The NFL postseason over, the league has moved on to its own March Mad… “Insanity” where college athletes try to prove to a national audience and pro teams that they can be relevant at the pro level. My relationship with the combine is in a constant state of flux, which some years looks like wonderfully prepared joy, and other years is more of a panicked pleading for it to wait another week so I can find out more about this random lineman from East Carolina University. I really should say most years I feel panicked but, that’s just me stressing to try to provide interesting content.

A bit of a recap of what this article is if you didn’t catch it last year, this is not a “top number of guys at each position” type listing but, more a “who I am watching, who has my eye, who might change their stars” type of a thing. By no means are these the only players I’m watching but, I think depending on combine efforts, things could change for them come draft day.

Defensive players are running field drills on Sunday and Monday, and I’ll have an article up next week about the below players plus, who I feel is worth mentioning to these guys.

Defensive Linemen:
Nick Bosa, Ohio State: In most circles Bosa is considered the lock to be the number one pick in the NFL draft, so obviously most everyone will be watching him. Rightfully so, while no one can argue his talent, he was dealing with a core muscle injury for most of the last year, we all should be interested in how he is returning from that.

Jachai Polite, Florida: An AP Second Team All American who only started 5 of 13 games he played in college, there are plenty of questions around Polite. From leading the nation with 6 forced fumbles to being benched for the first series of plays in this past season’s opener, Polite is an amalgam of contradictions between talent and dedication questions. Listed at “Edge” for the combine, he’s really only played DT/DE and very little time at OLB, which is why I have him listed as a lineman. A good showing in interviews and in drills could move him up the draft board to a solid round 1 pick from a current late 1st/mid 2nd round selection that most people have him at currently.

Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Clelin Ferrell, Clemson: These three have all the pedigree to play and start at a pro level their rookie year. As it stands all could go in the first round of the draft. That said it is interesting how often we see a couple of guys from a noteworthy line (offense or defense) get drafted all in the first round only to find out that basically a guy or two were being elevated by the great play of others, I don’t have any insight as to if that’s happening among these three but, that’s at the core of why I’m watching them this weekend.

Defensive Backs:
Deionte Thompson, Alabama: A very raw talent FS who once he was finally able to be a starter this past year, earned First Team All American honors. Thompson’s biggest knock on him is that his instincts still need to develop, while he was able to play at a high level most of the season he did have a couple rougher games against big name opponents.

Greedy Williams, LSU: A long tall Cornerback, who is often described as fluid, Williams will likely be overshadowed by fellow LSU alum Devin White during the draft, and maybe even the combine. Why I have my eye on Williams is simple, there are two types of players who “look fluid” in how they play, first guys that just aren’t pro level fast, but know what they are doing, and second guys who do what they do so well that it just looks smooth. Hopefully the drills that focus on fast twitch skills will show up which type of player Williams is.

Nasir Adderley, Delaware: A smaller school guy, who played in all kinds of ways, and was starting out the gate as a freshman, Adderley has the athletic talent to be a pro. I think most people are curious of whether he has the skills to stay at his college position of safety or if teams may try him back to Corner. My thoughts are why limit him to anything and move him around the field. How he tests might show if he’s ready for such an idea.

Linebackers:
Josh Allen, Kentucky: The linebacker that most everyone has had their eye on since August, Allen seems to have the ability to play pretty much anywhere if he wanted. His ability to shift gears from coverage to pass rush to run defense is seamless, with only a wish for a touch more aggression when it comes to collisions at line. Much like Bosa before, I’m watching Allen to make sure there’s nothing glaring that should make people reconsider him from being the number 1 Linebacker drafted.

Joe Giles-Harris, Duke: Someone who will likely not be drafted on the first day (or maybe even the second), the biggest knock most people have on Giles-Harris is that his speed is lackluster. His size, toughness, and instincts all seem to be in the right place which makes me think there’s a chance he could develop from a late round pick into a starter/pro bowl caliber player. So, I’ll be watching to see if his times are that far off from the pack, and who knows maybe Joe will find his way into the top 3 rounds.

T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin: A former high school Quarterback, that was a four year Inside Linebacker starter, yup I’m watching this guy do everything. Edwards has a reputation of a show up and do your job, blue collar, hard nosed, worker, who while not necessarily “amazing” at anyone one thing, has the fortitude to be a locker room leader. I’ve seen a good amount of analysis talking him up as a special teams and spot starter type of player but, in one of the few games of college football I saw this year, Edwards looked like a field general that lead by example.

There you have it, the guys I’ve got stars next to on my sheets in preparation of Sunday and Monday’s drills. I’ll have notes on other guys who stand out to me too. Along with some context of good fantasy landing spots for them all. If you’re looking for some more combine coverage Doug has been writing about the offensive side of the ball, so feel free to take a look at who he has an eye on.

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