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Blog Entry

Wise to be wary of these workout warriors

Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:08 pm
 
You've heard it all before... Every team in the league has at one time or another answered a question about workout results from the Combine with something along the lines of, "We don't draft players based on the Combine. What happens on the field is most important." 

Because what happens on the field is most important when determining how a prospect is likely to play at the next level, I'm highlighting five prospects whose film doesn't jive with the size, strength, speed or overall athleticism they showed at the Combine.

Call these players "workout warriors." Refer to it as "manufactured speed." Characterize it as "weight room strength that doesn't translate onto the field." Call it whatever you like. Just don't get too caught up on these prospects rising up charts despite posting some of the more impressive workouts of the 2012 Scouting Combine.

OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina: Well known in the scouting community for his jaw-dropping athleticism, it came as no surprise that Brown proved one of the fastest pound-for-pound athletes tested this year at the Combine. While he clocked in at 4.50 "officially" at the Combine and in the mid 4.4s from others sitting in the stands, don't let his timed speed fool you. Brown doesn't locate the football as quickly as most teams would like and is a passive "chase" linebacker who consistently runs around blocks rather than fighting through them. More than one scout has compared Brown's "instincts" to that of former No. 4 overall pick Aaron Curry. That's no compliment.  

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: By posting 27 repetitions of 225 pounds Fleener would have tied for the lead among all tight ends tested at the Combine in 2011 and finished tied for second (behind Georgia's Orson Charles' 35 reps) this year. The gaudy totals might have you thinking that Fleener is a physical blocker. He's not. He's actually a bit of a finesse player whose size and speed make him arguably the tight end in this draft likeliest to earn comparisons to New Orleans' star Jimmy Graham. Fleener is an intriguing talent but don't let the bench press numbers fool you into thinking teams will rest easy with his in-line blocking strength or tenacity.  

WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois: Unlike some of the others on this list, Jenkins was very productive in college. He led the Big 10 with 90 receptions as a senior, earning First Team All-conference honors. He runs well and shows good fluidity and balance as a route-runner on the field but isn't the big-play blazer that his 4.39 second time in the 40-yard dash would suggest. 

DE/OLB Nick Perry, Southern Cal: Perry worked out with the defensive linemen and ranked among the position's best in speed (4.64), power (35 reps) and explosiveness (38.5" vertical), turning in as impressive of an all-around performance at the Combine as anyone, regardless of position. He's on my Big Board so I believe he warrants first round consideration, but he isn't as dominant on the field as his lofty numbers in these traits might lead you to believe. Too many of his 9.5 sacks in 2011, in fact, were of the coverage variety. 

S Sean Richardson, Vanderbilt: Richardson may have enjoyed the most impressive all-around workout by any safety tested in Indianapolis but the tape shows a player who doesn't play with the desired read-and-react skills and ball skills most teams are looking for as the last line of defense. 

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