Can Past LSU Tiger Combine Results Predict Future NFL Tiger Draft Stock?
Fans and analysts will try and make predictions about player performances at the NFL Combine, but nobody really knows what it all means until the NFL hits Radio City in May for the draft. History, however, can be a great indicator. I decided to look back to see how former LSU players’ Combine performances affected their draft stock to see if we can predict how this year’s crop of LSU players could be affected.
I looked at the NFL Combine results from Michael Brockers, Joseph Addai, Reuben Randle and Kevin Minter. I chose the players based on the ones LSU sent to the 2014 NFL Combine. I also looked at players at the same positions in order to compare their performances to see who had a good or bad Combine.
Michael Brockers vs. Anthony Johnson And Ego Ferguson
Brockers came into the Combine as the top-rated defensive tackle and was slated as a Top-10 pick in the draft according to draft analyst Mike Mayock. The numbers he posted at the Combine were mediocre compared to his counterparts at defensive tackle that year because Memphis’ Dontari Poe and Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox did outstanding.
Brockers ran a sleep-inducing 5.31 40 time and didn’t participate in the bench press. His performance could not keep him in the Top 10 due to Cox and arguably the best Combine performance in NFL history by Poe. Brockers still did not slip much further as St. Louis took him at No. 14.
Johnson and Ferguson also posted mediocre Combine numbers. The major difference between 2012 and 2014 is the relative depth at defensive tackle. There’s a lot less talent this year, which benefits the two Tigers come draft day.
Kevin Minter vs. Lamin Barrow
Minter ranked as the No.3 inside linebacker in the 2013 draft and a Bleacher Report draft analyst projected him to be selected 32nd overall by the Baltimore Ravens. Out of all the inside linebackers, he tested in the Top 5 in the bench press, vertical leap and broad jump.
Minter’s performance at the Combine was neither helpful nor hurtful. The Arizona Cardinals drafted Minter 45th overall as the third inside linebacker taken behind Manti Te’o and Alec Ogletree.
Barrow is listed as an outside linebacker in this draft, but I see his future inside as a run-stopping linebacker who can shoot the gaps. He ran a solid 4.64 40-yard dash and put up a middle-of-the-pack 22 reps on bench. His only downside was finishing in the bottom four of the shuttle and three-cone drills.
Joseph Addai vs. Jeremy Hill And Alfred Blue
Addai ranked as the No. 5 running back heading into the Combine, projected as a late first or second-rounder according to NFLdraftscout.com. That did not change much despite his running back-leading 4.40 40 time, 38.5-inch vertical and 125-inch broad jump. His only downfalls were his shuttle and three-cone times which were 4.48 and 7.10. Both of these times were below average and showed his lack of agility through the holes.
The Indianapolis Colts selected him 30th overall as the fourth running back taken in the draft behind Reggie Bush, Lawrence Maroney and DeAngelo Williams.
Jeremy Hill came into the Combine ranked as the No. 2 running back and was projected as a second or third rounder. He put up a below-average 40, running it in 4.66 seconds, and fell in the bottom five of the broad jump. Hill did manage to put up 20 reps on the bench, but he did not participate in the shuttle or three-cone drill.
Alfred Blue did not do anything to improve his stock either, running a 4.63 40, plus turning in mediocre shuttle and three-cone times. NFLdraftscout.com projected Blue as a seventh-rounder or free agent pick up and I do not see that changing.
The difference between the 2006 draft and the 2014 draft is the fact that game has changed. Offenses are becoming more pass-heavy and that is why higher-rated running backs are slipping to the second and third rounds.
Reuben Randle vs. Odell Beckham Jr. And Jarvis Landry
Randle was projected as the No.4 receiver, predicted to go 30th overall to the San Francisco 49ers, according to Mayock. He clocked in at a sub-par 4.55 40 followed by an even more disappointing 31-inch vertical. This was not good for him since players like Stephen Hill crushed the Combine, finishing with the fastest 40 and biggest broad jump, plus a Top-5 vertical.
Randle was the 63rd player taken in the 2012 draft by the New York Giants. He was the ninth receiver taken overall, dropping five spots from his original ranking. The New York Jets selected Hill at No. 43 (he was the sixth receiver selected).
Beckham Jr. and Landry had total opposite performances at the Combine with one climbing the ranks and the other falling. Beckham Jr. ran a Top-5 40, clocking in at a 4.43, and Landry ran the worst 40 out of all the receivers at a 4.77. Landry also had the second-worst vertical, only reaching 28.5 inches. Beckham Jr.’s numbers helped him skyrocket into one of the top three receivers available and Landry, who was as the No.5 receiver, saw his stock decrease dramatically, both according to Mayock.
The NFL Combine is a great tool to test a player’s athleticism, but it does not always predict a football player's ability. These former Tigers and their Combine performances give a hint just how much the Combine can help increase or decrease your draft stock given your position and skill set.
That said, there's no way to measure whether a player's stock actually fell or rose — all the projections are from analysts who aren't working for a team — and players could just as easily rise or fall based on teams taking a closer look at film, medical evaluations or other factors. At the end of the day does the Combine truly tell you when you are going to be drafted? No. But can it help? Absolutely.