The 2014 NFL Combine is upon us! The combine is one of my favorite NFL events of the year. There is just something about it that fascinates me. I’m aware that most people don’t care about it and I understand you may not share my excitement, but allow me to try and explain why I enjoy it so much. I’ll give you the schedule for the position groups and choose one player from each day that you should keep your eye on.
Combine workout schedule:
» Saturday, Feb. 22: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams
» Sunday, Feb. 23: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
» Monday, Feb. 24: Defensive linemen, linebackers
» Tuesday, Feb. 25: Defensive backs
Ra’Shede Hageman is probably my favorite prospect of the entire draft. Every year, I get a gut feeling about at least one or two players and this year, it’s Hageman. Hageman is enormous and fast. He’s 6’6″ and 318 pounds. He transitioned from tight end to defensive tackle two years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Hageman is extremely strong and has a very fast first step. He has multiple pass rush moves but is also very stout against the run. If Hageman is available at our pick, it will be hard to leave him on the board.
For those of you that are going to say, “We just drafted Poe. Why would we draft another defensive tackle?” Well, Hageman is best suited to take over Tyson Jackson‘s role, and, unless Jackson restructures his contract significantly again, the Chiefs will likely let him walk. Regardless of which team drafts Hageman, I believe he is going to be a household name sooner rather than later.
Jimmy Garoppolo is the quarterback for Eastern Illinois and has been quietly making his way up the draft boards. He is no where near as polished as a Bridgewater or Bortles, but he does have excellent upside. Garoppolo would not be considered a dual threat but he can scramble when necessary (i.e. Alex Smith). He can make all of the NFL throws and has excellent mechanics. This is a quarterback who should get consideration around the fourth round probably as a back-up to be groomed for the future.
There isn’t one team in the league that has not sent a scout to see what Garoppolo is all about. Last season, although against talent one might not consider to be elite, Garoppolo threw 5,050 yards with 53 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and completed 66% of his passes.
As previously stated, Garoppolo will likely not set the combine on fire, but he will get his chance to prove that he can start. Much like Eastern Illinois alum, Tony Romo.
Jared Abbrederis is a mid-round wide receiver prospect from Wisconsin. He’s not particularly fast or big, but he is consistent and reliable. Think a slightly bigger Wes Welker. That’s not to say that Abbrederis will reach Welker’s level by any stretch, but they are similar in the sense that neither are going to take the top off of a defense and win the game single-handedly. He runs flawless routes and will be NFL-ready by week one. Truly, the only thing holding Abbrederis back is his size and lack of elite speed.
In 2013, Abbrederis hauled in 78 catches for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s speculated that if not for the shotty quarterback play in Wisconsin this year, Abbrederis could have easily surpassed 1,500 yards and double digit touchdowns. If wide receiver is not the first position taken off the board for the Chiefs this year, look for Abbrederis in the third or fourth round.