Winners and Losers at the NFL Combine


Nuccio DiNuzzo

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT)


Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

With the draft fast approaching, it’s time to take a look back at the National Football League (NFL) combine. The NFL combine is the ultimate test for prospects to show off their physical skill and potential. Top college players are invited to work out in front of NFL scouts and coaches. It is important to remember, of course, that the combine can solely tell us facts about the physical grade of a player, leaving the biggest question of them all up in the air: Does the college player have the right intangibles to make it through the rigorous demands the highest level of professional football has to offer?

Unfortunately, the intangibles on the football field cannot be fully crystallized in the eyes of the coaches at the combine. Teams can conduct interviews and attend the NFL-prepared Pro Days for the players to show off their skills on a more team-oriented drill, but nothing is for certain.

Let’s get back to the fun part though: Who impressed at the combine, and who disappointed?

Most of us would agree that the 40-yard dash is the highlight drill of the combine, but rest assured that it isn’t the only factor. A great time in the 40-yard dash does not make a player an elite prospect; it just helps his stock to move higher in the draft due to his quickness and overall speed, and is only one of many activities at the combine that help move the needle.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers at the combine:

1. Dion Jordan (Oregon OLB/DE) – A 6’6’’ hybrid linebacker who can excel in a 3-4 defense, Jordan has raw skills, and can be compared to recent breakout picks like Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith. With a 4.6 second 40-yard dash, his athleticism at the combine sure helped his stock for the upcoming draft. The Philadelphia Eagles, now employing Jordan’s former coach Chip Kelly, might take him fourth overall.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee WR) – WOW! Patterson might not have led every single category in the combine, but you don’t have to. Patterson is the most complete receiver at the combine, featuring 4.4 speed, a leading vertical jump and top three broad jump. His potential is equal to Chicago’s Brandon Marshall. At the next level he will outrun corners and leap over safeties at the highest point of attack. Patterson is likely a mid-1st rounder.

3. Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame TE) – Another outstanding prospect on the offensive side of the ball. A top performer in all eight major drills, Eifert came into the combine with the reputation of not being able to block. He proved critics wrong with his quick feet and strong upper body. Eifert could viably start for two-thirds of the teams in the NFL right now. His hands and field awareness will be something coaches will drool over.


1. Manti Te’o- (Notre Dame/ ILB) – How can I summarize his performance at the combine without mentioning any of his off the field issues? Strictly speaking of his results, Manti severely under performed in most the major categories. His height and weight are a concern for most coaches. His 40 time was disappointing, and his backpedaling was not as smooth as other linebackers in the draft. One aspect of his game that cannot be questioned is his high motor, but he did not help his draft position at the combine.

2. Mike Glennon- (NC State QB) – Too slow, too tall, slow release… does this sound like a previous QB Prospect? While the criticisms resemble those made about Tom Brady, Glennon has a lot of questions to answer before he can reach the heights of Tom Terrific. Once again, he lost dearly at the combine. His big frame at 6’7’’ can be a viable target for defenders. He will have to prove that he can make the tight window throws while under pressure. His performance in all drills fared near the bottom of the pack. If a team wishes to make him into the next Brady, they must test his will and heart first.

3. Alec Ogletree (Georgia ILB) – Alec’s size and weight seem to be right on point; however, he lacked breakaway speed and overall strength in the open field drills. Alec was an amazing performer on Saturdays, but can he do it on Sundays under the bright lights? His criminal history is a turnoff for every coach and scout, his hand-eye coordination struggles at times, and, as he showed at the combine, he doesn’t always have the motivation and upper body strength to fight off blockers. Alec under performed in his 40 yard dash with a 4.7 and should definitely be considered a wild card.