The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine began earlier this week as more than 300 prospects flocked to Indianapolis for a chance to prove their athleticism to select media, scouts and team executives.
Friday is the first day that groups officially hit the field for a series of tests including the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical leap, shuttle drills and position specific drills. Also, these NFL Draft prospects go through interviews, press conferences, tests and medical examinations before the on-field portion of the Combine. Here are some prospects for the West Coast teams to keep an eye on during the Combine.
Granted, these teams could be looking at the same prospects. However, this will focus on prospects that are valued around when these teams draft, as well as position needs for each West Coast roster. Moreover, the focus will be on the first round, since that is the team’s largest draft investment.
San Francisco 49ers
After a 2-11 season, the San Francisco 49ers have the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. This means San Francisco has a ton of needs on both sides of the ball. They have zero
San Francisco has zero quarterbacks on the roster after Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract. Therefore, expect them to take a close look at that position during this year’s combine. Plus, new head coach Kyle Shanahan may want to find a franchise quarterback to develop during his regime.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
Evaluators are all over the place on this quarterback class. However, Trubisky has emerged as the early favorite despite limited production and small hand measurements, per Metro.com.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Kizer has already blown the doors off an interview with San Francisco, per general manager John Lynch. Plus, Kizer is one of the biggest bodies at the quarterback position in this year’s draft. Now, eyes will be on his throwing.
Quarterback DeShaun Watson, Clemson
Despite tearing up Alabama’s defense in the past two National Championship Games, Watson is not the consensus No. 1 QB. That could change with some great throwing at the Combine.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers suffered another difficult season, mostly due to injuries. They enter the Los Angeles market after a 5-11 season. All eyes will be on the Chargers as they try to make an impact as the second NFL team in L.A. They could use an elite talent on both sides of the ball.
Specifically, the Chargers need offensive line help for Philip Rivers. Unfortunately, they might have to reach for some when selecting No. 8 overall. Either way, they can find some elite talent at safety and receiver when they draft. Expect them to evaluate those players hard at the Combine
Safety Jamal Adams. LSU
This has been called one of the best safety classes in years. Adams benefits from Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, the other top-10 rated safety, sitting out the Combine. Teams will look at Adams to prove the hype in all drills.
Wide receiver Mike Williams, Clemson
Chargers receiver Keenan Allen has finished the past few seasons on injured reserve. L.A. may look at another No. 1 receiver or at least someone to help out Allen and Rivers in the passing game. Williams has the size and production to be the No. 1 pick. A lot of questions center around his speed, but he can kill those in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Offensive tackle Garrett Bolles, Utah
Bolles can cement himself as the No. 1 tackle in the draft at the combine as Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk is sitting it out. Both players only have a year of college experience, so these athletic tests could be the tie-breaker. Los Angeles has the need as starting tackles Joe Barksdale and King Dunlap finished as the No. 58 and No. 53 ranked tackles, respectively, from Pro Football Focus.
The Oakland Raiders are fresh off their first playoff berth in more than a decade, after finishing 12-4 in the regular season. Hence, they are in a position where they do not have a lot of glaring needs. Sure, they need help on the defensive side of the ball. Oakland’s defense ranked 26th in yards per game, registered the least amount of sacks and gave up the 13th most points per game.
Luckily, this draft class is stacked with front-seven players. Oakland should set their sites on improving their inside linebacker position. Both starters Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley Jr. can bounce via free agency. Both could also be upgraded via the draft. The Raiders can sort out the linebackers in Indy.
Linebacker Jarrad Davis, Florida
Head coach Jack Del Rio‘s son played quarterback for the Gators. Therefore, Del Rio should have some intel on Davis. Davis’ biggest question mark is his health as he only appeared in nine games last season.
Linebacker Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Cunningham can really shoot up draft boards with a good combine. The All-SEC player was one of the top defenders for a mediocre Vanderbilt team. He registered four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles, with 125 tackles last season.
Linebacker Haason Reddick, Temple
Reddick already helped himself out with a great performance at the Senior Bowl, per NFL.com. Oakland likes players with versatility and Reddick played end, rusher and linebacker at Temple. The Raiders will have their eyes on him in position drills to see if he has the athleticism to be an impact player at the next level.
The Seattle Seahawks were a playoff team last season at 10-5-1, but they were not the same dominant team that we saw in past years. They have some positions to retool on both sides of the ball if they can get back to dominance.
In past seasons, the Seahawks have not drafted high enough to select elite offensive line talent. This year, the class is not loaded with elite players. Seattle could have a starter fall into their lap. Look for them to focus on that position at the Combine.
Offensive tackle Cam Robinson, Alabama
Seattle invested a few picks in the offensive line in the 2016 NFL Draft. However, they still need lots of help. Robinson faced some off-field issues that could hurt his draft stock. The Combine is a perfect setting for him to address those in meetings. Either way, he could be a steal for the Seahawks
Running back Dalvin Cook, FSU
The Seahawks also took a few mid-round running backs last season. They may be tempted to take Cook if he falls to them. He is a top talent, but shoulder injuries and a devalued running back position could make Cook the best player available here. Seattle and most teams will monitor his health history.
Defensive Tackle Malik McDowell, Michigan St.
Again, Seattle has gotten to where they are by adding depth pieces via the most talented player in the draft. They have needs for pass rushing and run stopping help on the defensive line. Tony McDaniel, 32, is a free agent and it might be time to replace him. McDowell registered 7.5 sacks in college and he might be the best player available. Good workouts in Indy might keep him from falling this fall, or they could prepare Seattle for another draft day steal.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams are in a difficult spot. They need major roster help on both sides of the ball after a 4-12 season. Unfortunately, they gave up their first round pick to move up in last year’s draft for Jared Goff. Now, they will need to get Goff some help without selecting until No. 37 overall.
The Rams should look at a variety of positions at the Combine. They will need to evaluate the tackles listed above, but both will probably be gone in the first round. L.A. may have to turn their sights towards needs at defensive back and receiver.
Receiver Zay Jones, Eastern Carolina
The Rams may find that first round receivers like John Ross and Corey Davis are gone by the time they select. Still, Jones could find himself as the next best receiver with some good tests and hands at the Combine. He already proved his competitive spirit with a great Senior Bowl showing. Not to mention, he posted more than 1,700 receiving yards in his final season.
Safety Budda Baker, Washington
Baker does not get a lot of talk in this draft, due to the elite talent at the position. However, Baker also balled in college. The Rams could lose T.J. McDonald in free agency and Baker might be a worthy replacement. Baker can gain some stock with good tests at the Combine.
Corner Adoree Jackson, USC
Los Angeles desperately needs some help at the corner position. They franchise tagged corner Trumaine Johnson, but the Rams do not have much depth behind him. Luckily, this corner class is stacked with first round talent. The Rams could find themselves with some options at the position when they select in the second round.
Either way, they will have to consider Jackson if he ends being one of the fastest players at the Combine. However, teams like the Rams will really look at Jackson’s official height and weight. Jackson does not have the prototypical corner height and weight as he is listed at five-foot-eleven and 185 pounds.
All in all, the NFL Scouting Combine is a great time for players to place exclamation points on their collegiate resumes. Needless to say, some of these players will improve their stock while others will fall after this workout.
Nonetheless, Indy is a great opportunity for teams to get a look at the depth at each position. Stay posted to see what teams fall in love with which players at the 2017 Combine.