With the 2016 NFL season firmly in our back seat, we begin to look forward through the early stages of draft season starting with a sneak peak at the NFL Combine for the rest of this weekend through Monday. Although 330 draft-eligible prospects were invited to the NFL Combine, for Friday Day 1, on-field workouts for running backs, offensive lineman, and special teamers begin today. We start things off with a look at all the positions for Day 1.
Continuing the policy from last year, the NFL has barred any draft-eligible prospect with convictions of violent crimes (a lot of grey area) from attending the scouting combine. Background checks were performed on all invitees and if a felony or misdemeanor conviction arose during the check, the player(s) were barred from any league-related events. Moreover, players refusing to submit a background check will also be uninvited. In relation to today's Day 1 events, the one prospect barred from competing is Oklahoma's running back Joe Mixon.
2017 NFL Combine
Location: Indianapolis, IN | Lucas Oil Stadium
Time: 6:00 AM PT
Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
Day 1: Running Backs, Offensive Linemen, and Special Teams
There are four critical areas the 49ers and all other NFL teams deem important during the NFL Combine process, which are medical evaluations, one-on-one interviews, verified measurements, and agility tests and drills. For viewing NFL fans, it is the on-field drills and agility tests the NFL Combine highlights, particularly with five on-field measurable drills performed by all prospects choosing to participate. These five drills consists of:
The marquee event of the combine is all about speed and explosion with the timed 40-yard interval measuring vertical speed over distance and acceleration from a static start. Prospects are also timed at 10 and 20 yard intervals (10-yard split and 20-yard split), where the 10-yard split measures initial quickness and burst, and the 20-yard split measures sustained quickness and burst.
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion, power, and leaping ability.
The broad jump is all about lower-body explosion and lower-body strength testing explosion and balance.
3 Cone Drill
The 3 cone drill is all about the prospect's athletic ability to change direction at a high speed. The drill measures agility, flexibility, and change of direction skills (COD).
The short shuttle or 20-yard short shuttle (5-10-5) is all about testing a prospect's lateral quickness, agility, burst, flexibility, balance, and explosion in short areas.
Although the bench press (225 pounds) is not part of the five on-field measurable drills performed today (bench press performed the day before), it is a crucial part of measurables testing upper-body strength (not functional strength) and endurance; moreover, it gives insight for NFL clubs on how often the prospect frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.
How the measurable drills translate for running backs:
When looking at the running backs perform their drills today, keep in mind of some minimum measurable targets running backs should be expected to target as a minimum result. For the most part, prospects exceeding these minimal targets tend to find success in the NFL. Minimal targets courtesy of Draft Breakdown.
40-yard dash - Minimum Target: 4.55
10-yard split - Minimum Target: 1.60
Vertical jump - Minimum Target: 36"
Broad jump - Minimum Target: 9'9"
3 cone drill - Minimum Target: 7.25
20-yard shuttle - Minimum Target: 4.20
Bench press - Minimum Target: 20
*Flying-20 - Minimum Target: 1.93
(*The flying-20 is the measured last 20 yards of a 40-yard dash measuring separation speed.)
As for the drills themselves in relation to predicting future success, there is not an exact science on which drill equates to NFL success; however, specific drills for each position tend to garnish more importance than other drills. For the running back position, measurable drills aiding future success are: 10-yard split, 40-yard dash, broad jump, and the Flying-20.
A few running back prospects to watch:
RB09 Leonard Fournette, No. 7 - LSU - (1st Round)
Height: 6000 | Weight: 240 | Age: 22
Arm: 31 5/8" | Hand: 9 1/4" | Bench: DNP
Leonard Fournette is a dynamic runner with a perfect combination of size, strength, and speed boasting amazing vision, sound instincts, and a bruising downhill running style rumbling between-the-tackles like a runaway freight train with impressive long-speed (separation speed) and agility. A freak of an athlete, Fournette came into the combine weighing at an eyebrow raising 240 pounds, but he later confirmed it was extra water weight that has quickly vanished; moreover, Fournette mentioned his ankle is now 100%.
RB05 Dalvin Cook, No. 4 - Florida State - (1st Round)
Height: 5100 | Weight: 210 | Age: 21
Arm: 32 3/8" | Hand: 9 1/4" | Bench: 22
Dalvin Cook is a dominant threat displaying a smoothness in his game with excellent instincts, versatility, and big-play waiting to happen at any time threat. His vision, patience, and feel for the game are tremendously impressive, showcasing a nice suddenness in traffic with elite tackle-breaking slippery skills similar to a snake slithering through grass, and the capacity to hit the home run whenever he touches the ball. Shows the versatility to succeed in both zone and gap schemes, and at the NFL Combine Cook mentioned his medicals cleared (shoulder issues), as well as the 49ers being one of the teams he has already met with. One area of concern likely discussed with the 49ers, answering questions about his legal problems.
RB19 Christian McCaffrey, No. 5 - Stanford - (1st Round)
Height: 5110 | Weight: 202 | Age: 20
Arm: 30" | Hand: 9" | Bench: 10
Christian McCaffrey is a true versatile player bestowing a perfect blend of athleticism, explosion, balance, foot quickness, and agility, combined with tremendous patience and vision that would make Frank Gore proud. A dynamic threat in all offensive facets of the game, the junior showcases a home run threat whenever he touches the ball displaying great speed (gets to full speed in a hurry), impressive hands (natural pass catcher), and the elusiveness to step-out-of and break tackles consistently. An area concern for Christian coming into the NFL Combine was the need to add the necessary bulk for the next level. Weighing 202 pounds and benching only 10 reps does not do him any favors has an every down ball carrier handling the majority of the carries. Nevertheless, his versatility is his calling card and a dynamic chess piece that can be utilized to take advantage of the defense's weaknesses, as well as thrive in the return game. Met with the 49ers at the NFL Combine.
RB16 Alvin Kamara, No. 6 - Tennessee - (2nd Round)
Height: 5100 | Weight: 214 | Age: 21
Arm: 32 3/4" | Hand: 9 1/4" | Bench: 15
Alvin Kamara is an explosive slashing running back knifing his way through holes with excellent vision, awareness, quickness, smoothness, physicality, speed, and burst. A slippery running back that carves his way through defenders easily changing direction with light quick feet, amazing balance and agility with impressive elusiveness (quality movement making consecutive moves in a short area). Outstanding in the passing game as a natural receiver with great clean route running skills, soft reliable hands extending arms to make the catch, and superb suddenness with the ability to break in and out of of his cuts separating from defenders quickly erupting upfield with impressive acceleration. Met with the 49ers at the NFL Combine, and likely addressed his past character issues.
RB31 Jamaal Williams, No. 21 - BYU - (3rd-4th Round)
Height: 6000 | Weight: 212 | Age: 21
Arm: 31 1/4" | Hand: 10" | Bench: DNP
Jamaal Williams is an underrated powerful and violent downhill runner displaying excellent balance and vision rumbling through defenses spinning and shedding off tackles with great power and physicality. Shows solid pad level hitting the hole with power behind his pads, sound ability in making consecutive moves in a short area (excellent at jump-cuts), great football IQ and awareness showing the football smarts on ball security (adept and transitioning ball from one arm to the other at key moments), and looks promising in a zone blocking scheme. Williams also showcases the ability as a natural pass catcher out of the backfield with good hands and fair blocking skills, although very inconsistent blocking. Durability concerns with his knee, as well as character concerns and withdrawal from school will likely be addressed by NFL teams at the combine.
RB07 Matthew Dayes, No. 21 - NC State - (3rd-4th Round)
Height: 5090 | Weight: 205 | Age: 23
Arm: 30" | Hand: 10 1/2" | Bench: 18
Matthew Dayes is a hard nosed playmaker with tremendous instincts, patience, high football IQ, and vision. A complete and natural running back, Dayes displays a solid combination of size, speed, quickness (great feet), physicality, balance, athleticism, and elusiveness. He accelerates around the edges, one-cuts and explodes, and runs solid inside between the tackles making consecutive moves in a short area running low and through the cracks maintaining the desired low pad-level hitting and slashing the hole exploding and accelerating to daylight. Dayes would be an ideal fit in a heavy zone scheme (works off tackle like a champ). The home run hitter also displays excellent pass-catching ability skills with strong hands (10 1/2" hands) and breakaway speed capability.
RB14 Kareem Hunt, No. 3 - Toledo - (3rd-4th Round)
Height: 5100 | Weight: 216 | Age: 21
Arm: 31 3/8" | Hand: 9 5/8" | Bench: 18
Kareem Hunt is a physical and aggressive running back with nice burst, patience, vision, and power to his game. Good inside and outside of tackles with great quickness and wiggle (terrific feet), plays with low pad level and excellent balance generating a lot of power in his stocky and thick frame, breaks tackles and always falls forward. Shows good speed bursting to daylight, but does not possess a second gear. Shows great vision and short area quickness, and displays solid reliable hands as a pass catcher (solid threat in the screen game). Hunt is a nimble bruiser with vision that can play in a zone or gap scheme and may be best utilized in a running back-by-committee due to style of play and injury concerns. An ideal 1-2 bruising punch opposite Carlos Hyde punishing defenders running hard with power.
RB21 Jeremy McNichols, No. 13 - Boise State - (4th Round)
Height: 5090 | Weight: 214 | Age: 21
Arm: 31 1/2" | Hand: 10" | Bench: DNP
Jeremy McNichols is a complete running back with good speed, explosion, quickness, vision, power, and strength. A very productive and successful college running back, McNichols runs with authority breaking tackles with determination and toughness, and the suddenness to be elusive in the open field. Although he does not have an elite explosive burst, he shows excellent patience and vision, impressive cuts making consecutive moves in a short area, and runs will solid balance and a great lean. He has fluid feet, very agile and good change of direction skills with great flexibility and tremendous balance. He is also a natural pass catcher with solid reliable hands, ball skills, body control, and a smooth route runner. Also brings value in the return game. Injury concern: McNichols has dealt with a shoulder injury for nearly a year.
RB14 Donnel Pumphrey, No. 19 - San Diego State - (4th Round)
Height: 5080 | Weight: 176 | Age: 22
Arm: 29" | Hand: 8 1/2" | Bench: 5
Donnel Pumphrey is a dynamic explosive versatile football player and a true home run hitter. Although not a powerful running back, Pumphrey bursts and hits the hole with authority, maintains low pad-level squirming his way to daylight exploding and separating from defenders with excellent vision, speed, elusiveness, and impressive strength. Pumphrey displays the Frank Gore factor in finding and slipping through dime-sized holes like a mouse, breaking tackles with impressive yards after contact and a knack to fall forward for extra yards. A natural pass catcher, he also displays excellent receiving skills with solid hands, impressive ball skills, a smooth route runner, and terrific suddenness in and out of his breaks. His size will be an issue for some NFL teams with durability being an area of concern. Weighed 169 pounds at the Senior Bowl and is now 176 pounds, which means he is likely getting feedback from the NFL for him to bulk up.
RB20 Elijah McGuire, No. 15 - Louisiana-Lafayette - (4th-5th Round)
Height: 5110 | Weight: 214 | Age: 22
Arm: 31" | Hand: 9" | Bench: 15
Elijah McGuire is a complete running back with good speed, explosion, quickness, and strength. A very productive and successful college running back, McGuire runs with an aggressive style breaking tackles running low, and although he does not have an elite explosive burst, he shows excellent patience and vision, impressive cuts, and runs with solid balance and a great lean. He has fluid feet, very agile, and good change of direction skills with great flexibility and tremendous balance. A threat in the passing game, he is a solid pass catcher with nice reliable hands (extends to make catch) and good route running. As a complete running back, McGuire does everything well: running inside with solid power and agility, outside with excellent athleticism, good burst and speed, breaks tackles, causes defenders to miss with change of direction, and one of the better pass catchers out of the backfield with decent pass protection skills. Moreover, solid college production. An extremely athletic prospect, McGuire also joined the Ragin' Cajuns basketball program immediately after the completion of the 2015 college football season playing out the rest of the 2015-16 season (16 games) for the men's basketball squad.
How the measurable drills translate for offensive lineman:
When looking at the offensive lineman perform their drills today, keep in mind of some minimum measurable targets offensive lineman should be expected to target as a minimum result. For the most part, prospects exceeding these minimal targets tend to find success in the NFL.
40-yard dash. - Minimum Target: 5.30
10-yard split - Minimum Target: 1.80
Vertical jump - Minimum Target: 30"
Broad jump - Minimum Target: 8'6"
3 cone drill - Minimum Target: 7.85
20-yard shuttle - Minimum Target: 4.65
Bench press - Minimum Target: 24
40-yard dash. - Minimum Target: 5.30
10-yard split - Minimum Target: 1.85
Vertical jump - Minimum Target: 30"
Broad jump - Minimum Target: 8'6"
3 cone drill - Minimum Target: 7.85
20-yard shuttle - Minimum Target: 4.55
Bench press. - Minimum Target: 26
Flying-20 - Minimum Target: 1.93
As for the drills themselves in relation to predicting future success, there is not an exact science on which drill equates to NFL success; however, specific drills for each position tend to garnish more importance than other drills. For the offensive line position, the tackle position in particular, measurable drills aiding future success are: broad jump, 3 cone drill, and the vertical jump. For the guard and center positions, measurable drills aiding future success are: 20-yard shuttle, 3 cone drill, broad jump, and the vertical jump.
A few offensive linemen prospects to watch:
OL19 Antonio Garcia, No. 53 - Troy - (2nd)
Height: 6060 | Weight: 293 | Age: 23
Arm: 32 7/8" | Hand: 9 7/8" | Bench: 24
OT Antonio Garcia is an underrated long-limbed offensive tackle with an excellent combination of size, athleticism, length (large wingspan), quickness, foot speed, and strength. The former high school basketball star utilizes his long arms, sound hand technique, a quick first-step, fluid lateral quickness, balance, solid technique, and an impressive athletic ability to quick set easily mirroring defenders with suddenness and fluidity adjusting to movement sliding laterally and redirecting. Shows a great ability to anchor in pass protection dropping his weight and hips anchoring to engage power rushers. Plays with a natural knee bend, functional athleticism, and a fluidity that is truly impressive for a man his size. Displays great toughness and decent strength in the run game (needs to gain more functional strength) finishing blocks all the way to the whistle. Garcia has not allowed a sack all season in nearly 900 snaps, and he's credited with over 65 knockdown blocks this season.
OL12 Dion Dawkins, No. 66 - Temple - (3rd Round)
Height: 6040 | Weight: 314 | Age: 22
Arm: 35" | Hand: 9 7/8" | Bench: 26
OT/OG Dion Dawkins is a thick tackle prospect with great arm length, size, power, and athleticism. He showcases impressive quickness, athleticism, technique (inconsistent), explosion, balance, solid and fierce punch at the point of attack, and great footwork. A very smooth athlete, Dawkins handles the edge against speed quite well with impressive lateral agility adjusting to movement and using his impactful hands to stifle defenders. He flashes a good anchor, but has a tendency to lose on leverage with high pad level; moreover, he has inconsistent hand technique (very powerful hands with flashes of a jarring punch) at times allowing defenders to reach inside his chest. Dawkins also has a tendency to be a waist bender lunging forward unable to maintain balance while driving defenders. Nevertheless, Dawkins is a tough powerful mauler at left tackle (has experience at right tackle too) excelling in the run game showcasing the toughness and foot speed to drive defenders away (uses angles well) finishing blocks all the way to the whistle. He's a quality offensive lineman prospect with great feet that will need to be coached up with better technique to match his powerful and athletic long and wide frame. Off field concerns will need to be addressed.
OL26 Forrest Lamp, No. 76 - Western Kentucky - (1st-2nd Round)
Height: 6040 | Weight: 309 | Age: 22-23?
Arm: 32 1/4" | Hand: 10 5/8" | Bench: 34
OG/OT/C Forrest Lamp is a highly technically sound tackle prospect that will likely kick it inside at the next level. Lamp is a hard nosed physical player with tremendous strength. Does not possess the ideal size/length for the tackle position (at least 6'5" and at least 33" arms), but his broad-shouldered tenacious competitive playing style with excellent body control (great knee bend), balance and toughness finishing blocks all the way to the whistle. Displays solid athletic ability to adjust in in pass protection sliding laterally adjusting to movement staying square while mirroring. Excellent technique in his hands and has fluid feet working extremely in concert with upper body driving defenders off the ball. Has the versatility to play all interior positions on the offensive line.
OL24 Dorian Johnson, No. 53 - Pitt - (1st-2nd Round)
Height: 6050 | Weight: 300 | Age: 22
Arm: 35 1/4" | Hand: 10 7/8" | Bench: 21
OG Dorian Johnson is an athletically gifted mauler prospect with good length (long arms) and agility playing with a nasty and savvy mentality you like seeing in a guard prospect. Displays fluid and and light feet, nice explosion and excels pulling and reaching the second level quickly. Showcases excellent lateral agility adjusting to movement and mirroring well in pass protection maintaining superb balance. Has a nice pop at the point of attack with violent hands, and also displays the athletic ability to swing his hips blocking in space when reaching the second level and/or pulling effectively creating clear lanes. Johnson has a slender muscle defined frame with explosion and impressive athleticism allowing him to move swiftly with fluidity. A zone running blocking prospect at the next level.
OL15 Pat Elflein, No. 65 - Ohio State - (2nd Round)
Height: 6030 | Weight: 303 | Age: 22-23?
Arm: 33 1/4" | Hand: 9 3/4" | Bench: 22
C/OG Pat Elflein is one of the top offensive draft-eligible centers in this years' class. The former high school wrestler and track and field athlete is a physical and tough center/interior lineman who plays with a tenacious aggressiveness. Elflein showcases great power at the point of attack and quick feet that helps him do a great job in pass protection and excellent when pulling showing great athleticism finishing his blocks with aggression. Elflein possesses tremendous football instincts, excellent foot agility (can snap and move with fluidity left and right), and a great ability to anchor the pocket setting the base of the pocket allowing the quarterback to step up in the pocket. Has the versatility to play all interior positions on the offensive line.
OL35 Ethan Pocic, No. 77 - LSU - (2nd-3rd Round)
Height: 6060 | Weight: 310 | Age: 21
Arm: 33 1/8" | Hand: 10 1/8" | Bench: 26
C/OG/OT Ethan Pocic is a long limbed leader on the field showcasing impressive athleticism with excellent foot agility easily capable of snapping the football and firing off the ball moving laterally smoothly. Displays great change of direction for a man his size and blocks superbly in space reaching the second level with quickness and power. Shows great ability to read defenses and has tremendous football instincts. Plays with the toughness, nastiness, and grit of a guard finishing all the way to the whistle, and finishes blocks with great technique, power, and foot quickness. Stout at the point of attack and displays excellent ability to anchor the pocket, setting and maintaining the base of the pocket allowing the quarterback to step up in the pocket away from the trash. Brings versatility capable of playing all offensive linemen positions.
OL45 Jon Toth, No. 72 - Kentucky - (5th Round)
Height: 6050 | Weight: 307 | Age: 2?
Arm: 33 5/8" | Hand: 10" | Bench: DNP
C/OG Jon Toth is an intellectual mauler with great size, strength, technique, toughness, and athleticism. The former high school basketball, lacrosse, and track and field star has good athletic ability displaying a quick first step, solid foot agility snapping the football and moving laterally with fluidity, and is able to set quickly in pass protection. Toth displays a great ability to anchor the pocket setting a solid base of the pocket with sound balance and body-control allowing the quarterback to step up. Showcases a great ability to adjust well in space with his quick feet sliding laterally adjusting to movement. He's a highly intelligent (graduated with a mechanical engineering degree) high football intelligence and awareness prospect that commands the offense line with precision and authority. Consistent in shotgun snaps. Shows durability starting 47 straight games at center, the longest streak in the nation, and he leads the team with 69 knockdown blocks and 195 blocks at the point of attack. Shows versatility as an interior offensive lineman prospect in a zone-blocking scheme.
In talking about special teamers we can assume it is safe to say the 49ers will not draft another punter and/or long snapper, although with the new regime at the helm and a purging of the roster possibly imminent, one never knows. Nevertheless, with no word on an extension for Phil Dawson, and the only kicker left on the 49ers roster is recent Reserve/Future signing of Nick Rose, it is possible the 49ers may look at a kicker this draft season.
A few special team prospects to watch:
PK04 Zane Gonzalez, No. 5 - Arizona State - (5th-6th Round)
Height: 6000 | Weight: 202 | Age: 2?
Arm: 29 1/2" | Hand: 9"
K Zane Gonzalez was the recipient of the Lou Groza Award (best place-kicker award) after an exemplary senior year. The senior is the all-time FBS leader in field goals made (96) and points (494) by a kicker. In 2016, the unanimous All-American was 5-of-5 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 5-of-5 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 6-of-6 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 7-of-9 on field goals 50 yards plus. Gonzalez's longest field goal made in the season was from 59 yards out. Gonzalez attended the Senior Bowl and was 3-of-3 on field goals with kicks from 22, 29, and 39 yards in the game. He also had a lone kickoff for 65 yards.
PK03 Jake Elliott, No. 46 - Memphis - (6th Round)
Height: 5090 | Weight: 167 | Age: 22
Arm: 29" | Hand: 9"
K Jake Elliott is known in the Lou Groza Award community after being named at least a semifinalist for the award all four seasons of his collegiate career - always a bridesmaid thing going for him. Nevertheless, the consistent kicker boasts an impressive extra point field goal career percentage of 100% completing a combined 202-of-202 in four years. In 2016, the three time All-American Athletic Conference recipient (2013, 2014, 2015) was 1-of-1 on field goals from 1-19 yards, 3-of-3 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 5-of-7 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 10-of-12 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 2-of-3 on field goals 50 yards plus - 50 yards being his longest of the season. Elliot's longest field goal was 56 yards in 2013 at USF, and his career kickoff yardage average is 63.7 yards. Elliott attended the Senior Bowl and was 1-for-1 on field goals with a 37-yard kick.
PK07 Austin Rehkow, No. 5 - Idaho - (6th Round)
Height: 6030 | Weight: 214 | Age: 21
Arm: 31 7/8" | Hand: 9 7/8"
P/K Austin Rehkow is the perfect special team prospect if you are looking for - killing two birds with one stone - as he is one of just three players nationally who kicked and punted for their team. The top punter prospect in this years' draft class and Ray Guy Award finalist in 2014, Rehkow had 56 punts for a total of 2,332 yards with a punting average of 41.6% and a career of 81 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. As a kicker in 2016, the Lou Groza Award semifinalist (2015) was 1-of-1 on field goals from 1-19 yards, 9-of-9 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 8-of-9 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 7-of-9 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 1-of-1 on field goals 50 yards plus - 50 yards being his longest of the season. Rehkow's longest collegiate field goal is 50 yards; however, in high school he set a state record in Washington with a 67-yard field goal. His career kickoff yardage average is 60.5 yards. Rehkow attended the East-West Shrine game and punted six times for 46.8 yard average with two punts inside the 20-yard line. Had a 65-yard kickoff for touchback, and was 1-of-2 on field goals missing a 22-yard attempt and connecting on a 27-yard attempt.