However, I personally believe the combine workouts themselves have lost much of their importance. Many of the participants have spent the last month or two perfecting techniques on running a 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle, and 3 cone drill. They have been also perfecting techniques on broad and vertical jumping and on pumping iron. One has to wonder how these “perfected” techniques actually translate onto the football field. I would rather see the WRs catch a pass and then run a timed 40 yard dash from a standing start with their back to the direction of the run with football in hand all the way. To make my point, last year the Dolphins selected Clyde Gates based on his sub 4.4 second run in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. This speed did not show up on the football field in 2011. One thing the workouts do allow is a relative comparison of participants and their preparation habits. So, workout absolutes at the Combine are not as important as relatives.
The following is a summary of the NFL Combine workouts by day and who/what the Dolphins might be interested in:
Saturday — Offensive Linemen and Tight Ends: The right side of the offensive line is an area of need and TE is a position that lacks depth for the Dolphins. Specifically, the Dolphins could use a right offensive guard and/or tackle. They will likely use their first or second round pick on one. Many have projected the Dolphins will select Reilly Reiff (LT out of Iowa) or Jonathan Martin (LT out of Stanford) with their first pick in the draft. However, I have a sleeper for you — many experts have the top rated OL in the 2012 NFL Draft as being David DeCastro (RG out of Stanford). The Dolphins could select him in the first — and, yes I know it is kind of high for a OG to be selected — and then select a right tackle in the fourth or fifth round. Their are many good fourth round prospects in the draft who could play RT such as Jeff Allen (Illinois), Nate Potter (Boise State), and Markus Zusevics (Iowa). As for TE, the Dolphins may use a second or third round pick and consider Orson Charles (Georgia), Ladarius Green (Louisiana-Lafayette), or Michael Egnew (Missouri) — I’m going to keep an eye on Green who could run sub 4.6 seconds in the 40 yards dash.
Sunday — Quarterbacks and Running Backs and Wide Receivers: QB is a position of need for the Dolphins. But, you will not see the top three prospects (Luck, RG3, or Tannehill) throw at the NFL Combine — and, how fast they run will not be of significance. Second tier QBs’ Brock Osweiller (Arizona State), Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State), and Nick Foles (Arizona) will be throwing and be of some interest to the Dolphins as a “break in case of an emergency” option. The Dolphins spent draft picks last year on the RB and WR positions. So, it is unlikely that they will use first thru fifth round picks on these positions, unless something special drops into their laps. However, they could use six or seventh round picks on these positions — particularly RB. Therefore, a speed RB like Edwin Baker (Michigan State), Brandon Bolden (Mississippi), Darrel Scott (South Florida), or Foswhitt Whittaker (Texas) may be of interest as to whether they run the 40 yard dash in the low 4.4 seconds and demonstrate a good ability to catch passes.
Monday — Defensive Linemen and Linebackers: The rush DE/OLB is a position of need for the Dolphins — someone to replace retired Jason Taylor. I believe the Dolphins will use a first or second round pick on this position. Quinton Coples (North Carolina) and Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) are first round picks of interest. Andre Branch (Clemson), Vinny Curry (Marshall), and Cam Johnson (Virginia) are second round picks of interest. These five guys will be running, jumping, and pumping their hearts out vying for an edge in the draft. NT might be also a position of need for the Dolphins — someone to replace the likely departing Paul Soliai. If he departs, I believe the Dolphins may use a fourth or fifth round pick on this position. Therefore, you might want to keep your eyes on Josh Chapman (Alabama whose draft stock has plummeted over the last month), Hebron Fanqupo (BYU), Akiem Hicks (Regina), and Mike Martin (Michigan). ILB is a position that lacks depth for the Dolphins. However, they are unlikely to use first thru fifth round picks on this position. There are actually some good college ILBs who will be available in the later rounds and worth keeping an eye on at the Combine such as Chris Galippo (USC), Najee Good (WVU), Mychal Kendricks (California), and Shawn Loiseau (Merrimack).
Tuesday — Cornerbacks and Safeties: Safety is a position of need (AGAIN) for the Dolphins. That is the bad news. The worse news is that this is a thin position in the 2012 NFL Draft — a very thin position — especially, the free safety position. The Dolphins may be willing to spend a third round pick on the FS position, if the right guy is there. Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State) was once #1 at this position on the scouting reports and projected to go high in the second round, but his draft stock has been dropping since a poor performance at the Senior Bowl. On the other hand, George Iloka (Boise State), Harrison Smith (Notre Dame), and Janzen Jackson (McNeese State) have been rising. These four participants will be interesting to watch at the Combine, especially how well Iloka and Smith run, both are in excess of 6’1″ and 210 lbs and many believe are more better suited for the SS position. Some have said that CB is a position that lacks depth for the Dolphins. I tend to somewhat disagree and don’t see the Dolphins spending first thru sixth round picks on this position. However, you might want to keep your eye on Justin Bethel (Presbyterian) who may be available in the seventh round and run a sub 4.45 at the Combine on Tuesday.
So, there you have it. A quick summary of what you might want to watch for at the 2012 NFL Combine. Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin will be watching the Combine participants. Whether you watch the NFL Network coverage or not, you might want to check back here on PhinPhanatic from time to time to get some highlights.
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