Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Post-combine AFC West matchmaking
By Bill Williamson ESPN.com
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen, OT Anthony Davis and DT Terrence Cody took part in the NFL scouting combine and could be attractive options for AFC West teams in April's draft.
With the NFL combine wrapping up in Indianapolis, each AFC West team is preparing for the NFL draft in full force.
Here are five players each team in the division may be studying for various reasons as the combine concludes:
Dez Bryant, receiver, Oklahoma State: Bryant did not run at the combine due to a hamstring injury. Still, Denver is keeping a close eye on this game-breaker. If Brandon Marshall is traded, Bryant, the jewel of the receiver class, could be heading to Denver at No. 11. But there are some off-field concerns that could make Bryant a risk.
Jimmy Clausen, quarterback, Notre Dame: Clausen is a long shot. However, he fits coach Josh McDaniels’ system. Denver has other needs, but if Clausen slips past Washington (No. 4) and Buffalo (No. 9), Denver could be tempted to answer its long-term needs at quarterback.
Terrence Cody, defensive tackle, Alabama: The Broncos need a sturdy nose tackle as they enter the second season of using the 3-4 defense. Cody, who slimmed down 16 pounds from the Senior Bowl, has a chance to be a dominant force. If he is available in the second round, Denver could make a run at him.
Mike Iupati, guard, Idaho: Denver is looking to get bigger on the offensive line. The 6-foot-5, 331-pound Iupati would do the trick. He is rising up draft boards. He may not be on the board in the second round, but if he is, Denver could snatch him up.
Rolando McClain, linebacker, Alabama: This is a legitimate option at No. 11. McClain was impressive in his meetings with teams at the combine. He is a leader and would be a perfect middle linebacker in Denver.
Eric Berry, safety, Tennessee: The Chiefs would love to get the chance to draft Berry with the No. 5 pick, but they will need some help. If St. Louis drafts a quarterback, Berry could fall to Kansas City, but that could be a long shot. If not, Tampa Bay may take him at No. 3.
Clausen: This is another long-shot scenario. However, you have to think Clausen intrigues Kansas City. He played for new Kansas City offensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. Although Kansas City likes quarterback Matt Cassel, a Clausen-Weis pairing could be intriguing. Clausen said at the combine that he wants to prove to NFL coaches that he does not have a bad attitude. He would not have to win over Weis, whom already believes in his former player.
Russell Okung, offensive line, Oklahoma State: Okung is a favorite to be drafted by Kansas City. He would be an instant starter at left tackle and would enable the team to move 2008 pick Branden Albert to right tackle. Okung was impressive in his interviews at the combine and he looks the part. A hamstring injury should not hurt his draft status.
Anthony Davis, tackle, Rutgers: Davis is a player Kansas City could be eying at No. 5 if Okung is off the board. Davis may be a bit of a reach at No. 5, but Kansas City has to be paying attention to him.
Golden Tate, receiver, Notre Dame: Tate helped his cause very much at the combine. He ran great and won over teams in his interviews. It is not out of the question that he worked his way into the bottom part of the first round. If he sticks around to the second round, Tate could be reunited with Weis.
Bruce Campbell, tackle, Maryland: Campbell has the look of a player Oakland will seriously consider taking. Campbell was one of the stars of the combine. He tested well, and at 6-foot-6, 314 pounds, Campbell ran a 4.85 40-yard dash. He did not always play well in college, and there are some attitude concerns. However, his combine test and his great size and speed may help him skyrocket up draft boards. Oakland loves combine stars and it really needs a tackle. This could be a pairing.
Davis: Oakland will also look at Davis. The Raiders will study several tackles. It is the most likely position the Raiders will choose from at No. 8. Davis should still be available.
Dan LeFevour, quarterback, Central Michigan: There was talk that Oakland could target LeFevour in the mid rounds. Oakland will be looking for a quarterback in the draft and many scouts thought LeFevour would be an excellent prospect to consider in the third through fifth rounds. However, he struggled at the combine and showed a lack of arm strength. That could turn off Oakland. Owner Al Davis likes strong-armed quarterbacks.
McClain: If some of Oakland’s top options are gone, it could make a run at McClain. He should be available at No. 8. He would help the Raiders, who could use a spark on the defensive front seven.
Okung: The Raiders were surely reviewing Okung in Indianapolis. Drafting him may be wishful thinking. Okung is the best player at Oakland’s biggest area of need. If he is available at No. 8, Oakland has to take this star.
Jahvid Best, running back, California: Best may have been too good at the combine for San Diego’s liking. He was the fastest running back at the combine. That could move him up the draft board dramatically. He was considered a late first-round talent prior to the combine. Now, Best could move into the top 15 along with Clemson’s C.J. Spiller. San Diego picks No. 28 and would likely love to get a shot at Best.
Cody: Along with running back, nose tackle is San Diego’s biggest need. Cody is the type of player who could help San Diego. With his improved effort at the combine, San Diego has to consider him a decent option at No. 28.
Jonathan Dwyer, running back, Georgia Tech: Dwyer said he had a great meeting at the combine with San Diego. He said he thought the team was interested in him and said he is interested in the Chargers. However, he did not have a great performance at the combine. He ran a pedestrian 4.64 40-yard dash. He could be available in the second round. If San Diego feels comfortable with Dwyer’s game film and are not swayed by his slow 40 time, perhaps it could consider taking Cody in the first round and Dwyer in the second round.
Toby Gerhart, running back, Stanford: Although Dwyer had a less-than-stellar combine, Gerhart performed very well. He ran better than expected and showed his versatility by ranking near the top of several combine tests. Gerhart may now be a sure second-round pick. The Southern California native looks like a good fit for the Chargers’ system. He did not hurt his chances in Indianapolis.
Trindon Holliday, receiver/returner, LSU: Holliday could be a decent replacement if Darren Sproles leaves San Diego through free agency. Like Sproles, Holliday is a tiny speedster. Holliday is 5-foot-5 and is awfully quick. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine. What better way to replace Sproles than with a Sproles clone?