Welcome to the third edition of Dave the Falconer's NFL Combine notebook, which takes a bunch of semi-useful drills run by players whose stock is fluctuating wildly and attempts to make sense of them. You may need a hard hat.
If there's one thing the Combine has taught us over the last several days, it's that a player's entire body of work in college can be set aside or completely undone based on a poor performance in one drill. Experts had widely predicted that Joe Haden would be the first cornerback off the board and thought he was virtually a lock to be off the board in the first ten picks, and now they've decided he might last another few picks because of a pedestrian 40 yard dash time. This despite the fact that Haden is clearly the best cover cornerback in the draft, that he kept up with receivers just fine in college and that he's obviously a cut above anybody else. You see, he just doesn't run in a straight line fast enough.
That's especially useful to measure a corner by, of course, because wide receivers always run in a perfectly straight line down the field.
So yeah, the Combine is simultaneously useful to get a look at a prospect's physical tools and extremely useless for predicting someone's future success as a player. Keep that in mind as I move through my notes, after the jump.
Taylor Mays isn't a serious contender to be picked by the Falcons, but I really loved the comment from Mocking The Draft on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of Mays' supposedly 4.24 second dash:
"Taylor Mays runs an unofficial 4.24. Draftniks go nuts. Al Davis dies. The world is overrun by the undead."
Later, of course, it turned out that Mays hadn't run nearly that fast, and his ability to pivot in coverage is in serious doubt. Nonetheless, it's evidence of how much stock that people put in these drills that people went NUTS when Mays supposedly ran that 4.24. At the end of the day, unless the guy is running like a 5 second dash, it's not making an enormous difference.
- Devin McCourty was a cornerback I mentioned previously, but after posting a solid time in the 40 yard-dash and some impressive ups, it seems likely he's going to go in the second round. Did I mention we don't have a second round pick? Crap.
- Brandon Ghee and Chris Cook are similar players, cornerbacks who could be around in the third round and put up pretty good numbers at the Combine. Ghee is a much stronger corner and a surer tackler, but Cook may be the better player in terms of man-to-man coverage. Either would be solid value if they made it to the Falcons in the third. If the team goes pass rushing linebacker or defensive end in the first round, these are two names you'll want to be familiar with.
- Remember when Donovan Warren was a popular first round pick for the Falcons? Yeah...not so much. He's a very physical cornerback, which would be a nice fit for the team in a lot of ways, but his 40 times in the mid 4.5s suggest he'll be dropping down into the middle rounds. Frankly, I think we have enough fast, small cornerbacks that we could afford to roll the dice on Warren.
- Carlos Dunlap impressed quite a few scouts with his answers about his checkered past, and that could be enough to bump him up a little bit again. My opinion? There are too many teams who don't really give a damn about character for him to last much past the Falcons, and I'd predict he won't even be there at #19 for us to consider. He's not the safest pick, though, so I'd be inclined to avoid him.
- John Skelton is more or less the only quarterback I'd want the Falcons to consider taking, and only if he lasts until near the end of the draft. Skelton has a truly awesome arm and would be a great long-term project as our backup quarterback, with considerably more upside than John Parker Wilson. Unlikely, I know.
- Dexter McCluster has been billed as a decent replacement for Jerious Norwood in the later rounds, but he doesn't have the home run speed Norwood has. Instead, what he offers is amazing agility and the ability to change direction faster than you can blink. He'd be a nice fit for the Falcons if his sub-par 40 time (4.58 seconds) drops him into the late rounds.
- With Sean Weatherspoon quickly exiting the Falcons' range by impressing yet again at the Combine, a guy to watch at outside linebacker might be Daryl Washington. He's fast and a capable pass rusher, and might be the next best thing to Weatherspoon if the team is seriously considering an OLB.
So there's some notes on players the Falcons may have interest in. Your thoughts?