The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine takes place from February 28th-March 6th. This year the NFL 330 players to compete this year for a chance to boost their NFL Draft stock. However, every year a bunch of players who are worthy of combine invites gets snubbed. This year the NFL even implemented a rule that does not allow players to compete that have previous off the field issues to give other players a chance to show their talents. Those instances include misdemeanor or felony conviction involving violence or use of a weapon, domestic violence, sexual offense and/or sexual assault (I’m very much in favor of this rule by the way). What players should you keep your eye on leading up to the draft process despite the fact that they did not get combine invites?
Patrick Towles (Boston College)
Three years ago I thought Patrick Towles was going to get drafted somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round while he was at the University of Kentucky. He was coming off a year where he completed 57.4 percent of his throws with a 14-9 TD to interception ratio as a redshirt sophomore. In 2015 however, he fell off a cliff throwing 9 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. This past season he transferred to Boston College and didn’t far much better completing just 50.5 percent of his throws. I still think he has some talent and could make a roster as a capable backup. Some other quarterback snubs include Antonio Pipkin who we saw at the Senior Bowl and Zach Terrell who played at the East-West Game. Neither guy performed well at their respective
Some other quarterback snubs include Antonio Pipkin who we saw at the Senior Bowl and Zach Terrell who played at the East-West Game. Neither guy performed well at their respective collegiate All-Star game which could be a reason why they weren’t invited to the Combine. Terrell, in particular, threw 33 touchdowns to just 4 picks at Western Michigan in 2016. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was not invited because of his off the field incidents.
Joseph Yearby (Miami)
The word deep does not give this running back class enough justice. I would not be surprised if upwards of 30 running backs get drafted this year. Having said that Miami’s Joseph Yearby tops the list of running back snubs that were not invited to the combine. Yearby rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2015. In 2016 he played more of a complementary role with stud Mark Walton also in the backfield where Yearby still averaged 6.0 yards per carry. He also has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield too. My guess is Yearby gets drafted in the later portion of the draft despite not being invited to the combine.
With the depth of this tailback class Yearby wasn’t the only one. I’Tavius Mathers flashed at Tennesee State after transferring from Ole Miss. Marcus Cox of Appalachian State and Tarean Folston of Notre Dame are also talented backs that should have been invited. Joe Mixon from Oklahoma was an obvious invite but was not allowed to participate after his troubles at Oklahoma.
Chad Williams (Grambling State)
Williams put on a show at the Senior Bowl from small school Grambling State. He was even a late addition to the game having to prove himself at the NFL PA game first. Williams is a really athletic guy and a complete route runner possessing above average speed at 6’2″. Unfortunately for him, a Marijuana and firearm arrest will keep him out of Indy. Ishmael Zamora from Baylor and Damore’ea Stringfellow also find themselves in a similar boat not invited for off the field issues.
Two guys that do not have those issues that got snubbed were Austin Carr and Gehrig Dieter. Carr probably would not have tested very well but he is a pure possession guy reeling in 90 balls at Northwestern. Dieter is a similar player. Dieter, a graduate transfer from Alabama, only caught 15 passes in a run heavy offense but did catch 94 balls for 1,033 yards for Bowling Green the year prior.
Tyrone Swoopes (Texas)
In terms of production, Swoopes did not deserve a combine invite. The mystic that Swoopes has does deserve an invite, though. Swoopes, a quarterback at Texas, is making the transition to tight end in the NFL. I have no idea if it will work but it will sure be fun to watch. At 6’4″ – 250, he has the size for the position. He probably will test pretty well too as he could run very well as a quarterback for Texas. In 2014 as a sophomore he looked like he could possibly make it as a quarterback with a stat line of 58.3 completion percentage and a 13-11 touchdown to interception ratio.
Other tight end snubs include Taylor McNamara from USC, Josiah Price from Michigan State, Blake Jarwin from Oklahoma State, and Jake Maulhardt from Wyoming. McNamara could have hurt his stock due to a rough outing at the East-West game. Price is an interesting one because he is an excellent in-line block and nice red zone piece with 21 career collegiate touchdowns.
I’ll do something different here because this offensive line class is dreadful across the board. When talking about late round offensive lineman you always want to find somewhere who has rare physical tools that just hasn’t put it all together yet. Jylan Ware from Alabama State is 6’8″ and shows pretty good balance. That’s the kind of guy you want where a coaching staff can teach him how to use his length. Another tackle is Toledo’s Storm Norton. He is also 6’8″ and blocked for tailback Kareem Hunt who will probably get picked in the 2nd or 3rd round. A pair of Georgia linemen Greg Pyke and Tyler Catalina were two other guys I would have liked to see doing a nice job of blocking in the SEC. The biggest snub of the group was Erik Magnuson who was the right tackle for Michigan this past season. He was by far the best lineman at the East-West Shrine game.
Hunter Dimick (Utah)
There is something to be said for a defensive lineman that have relentless motors. Look no further than Hunter Dimick from Utah. Dimick ranked 3rd in the country in sacks with 14.5 this past season. He also had 20 tackles for loss providing a huge presence in the run game that is often times overlooked by scouts. This is a guy who doesn’t have elite physical tools but is someone you want on your team to be a relentless force providing interior pass rush. He would be a perfect fit for a 3-4 defensive end.
The other defensive line snub is DeAngelo Brown of Louisville. He was excellent as a one-gap penetrator at the East-West Game. He recorded 11 tackles for loss this past season.
Herdman was a late add to the Senior Bowl as I only got to see him during the final day of practices. From what I saw he looked a little stiff and over aggressive but you can see he has some explosive traits. He’s a guy a would have love to see compete after a dominating year at a small school. Elijah Lee from Kansas State is another one who is one of those speedy undersized outside linebackers. After an 110 tackle season, he declared for the draft as a Junior. There is some development to continue for Lee. The undersized speedy linebacker has been a common theme in recent years as you are going to see a bunch of guys that resemble this mantra.
Aarion Penton (Missouri)
I loved what I saw from Penton as the East-West game and the Senior Bowl. This guy is the epitome of scrappy and does a great job in the slot as an undersized corner. Penton has the shiftiness to keep up with the elusive route runners in the middle of the field and is worth a late-round flier.
Fish Smithson, yes his name is Fish, is an overlooked safety. While Kansas isn’t exactly a glamor program, they have produced NFL caliber secondary players in the past (Aqib Talib – Chris Harris). He recorded 5 interceptions this past year and is versatile enough to tackle in the box as well.