Look, the Combine is what it is: a track and field competition when the sport is neither track nor field. Anyone who knows what they are talking about will tell you that the biggest part of the Combine is the medical check – and to a lesser extent, the interviews – but that stuff is difficult to gauge from a fan standpoint, so we are left with the superficial numbers. 40 times, bench press reps and vertical jumps.
Al Davis loved the Combine, because he nearly always drafted on physical ability over technical and mental prowess. It worked. For a while.
So, while I by no means want to emulate Al Davis’ personnel strategies, what he relied on is the only concrete measure we currently have at our disposal. So, mid-Combine, here is how things look, through Davis’ crazy-glasses.
Donald Stephenson, T Oklahoma:
This is one athletic dude. He was the best in the offensive lineman in the 40-yard dash and broad jump, meaning he can move. He’s 6’6” 312 lbs, according to official school stats, and is projected as a mid-round tackle.
His drawbacks are described as such: “Heavy footed and lacks elite lateral ability. Will struggle with speed rushers and footwork is a work in progress. Bends too much at the waist and overextends himself. Often caught lunging and leaning. Has inconsistent get-off quickness and lacks the natural burst to maintain balance and block in space. Extends his arms, but has soft hands and doesn’t jolt rushers. Tends to leave his feet too often and whiffs on moving targets. Needs to keep his head up, butt low and stay balanced. Struggles with pre-snap awareness and needs to stay disciplined to recognize extra rushers. Will get lazy at times with his fundamentals and needs to eliminate several bad habits. Needs to develop more of a finishing attitude and overall mean streak. Still very green and has much learning to do.”
I don’t see much there that sounds un-coachable. If this guy falls to us in the 3rd or 4th round, I say we grab him. Even as a project, we could coach him up nicely behind Brandon Albert and whoever (not Barry Richardson) is starting at RT this year.
I actually love the idea of having a super athletic tackle on the roster. Although Stephenson isn’t nearly the same type of prospect, he does remind me of Bruce Campbell, a workout warrior tackle drafted by the Raiders in 2010. So far, he has done very little for them, but that’s largely because they are looking to find guys to plug holes in their leaky O-line. As a backup and specialty player, these guys can be golden for you.
With a 4.94 40-yard-dash time, Stephenson will be able to outrun defensive linemen when pulling around the edge or blocking on a sweep. That means he would be able to get guaranteed second-level blocking for you. He could also potentially be used as a goal line TE and catch passes with his huge 6’6” frame the way that Vrabel used to.
David DeCastro, G Stanford
DeCastro deserves his top-15 draft grade. In addition to being an incredibly reliable presence on Stanford’s line, this guy is a physical beast. He ranked 1st in the three-cone drill, 3rd (slower than #1 by .03 seconds) in the 20-yard shuttle and 2nd in the bench press among offensive linemen.
I personally think we should go full speed towards picking up Carl Nicks in free agency, but if the Chiefs decide to do something else with their free-agency dollars (cough Manning!) then I would not be disappointed in the least with picking up DeCastro. He has the power and ability to be a dominating blocking presence in every type of run play, whether we’re diving it up the gut or kicking it to the outside.
Ladarius Greene, TE Louisiana-Lafayette
Ladner and I have been pounding the table about this guy. He’s fast – 4.53 40-yard-dash time – and tall at 6’5” and made things happen for his college team. Overall, ProFootball Weekly described him thusly: “A developmental, small-school tight end lacking the mass needed to factor in the run game. Has upside to be groomed into a receiving threat but is far from a finished product and still has a long ways to go.”
Jermichael Finley anyone?
James Hanna, TE Oklahoma
This guy has got to be soaring up draft boards after his Combine performance.
In addition to having the best 40 time at 4.49, he also had the #2 20-yard shuttle time, the #3 broad jump and benched the 4th most reps out of the TE’s. Earlier the big knock against him was that he couldn’t run. Well, clearly he can. He also has a lot of other raw talents the Chiefs could employ to mold him into a deadly Hernandez-type TE.
Still, only about half of the positions have gone through the drills, but these are guys that I would love to see in Chiefs red, what say you Addicts?