Now that National Signing Day 2018 is behind us and FSU has welcomed in 20-plus new “Doak Boys,” we can shift our attention to those who are trying to extend their careers at the next level.
Florida State had nine players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, tied for the fifth-most of any school.
I get excited every year during the combine, as I own a performance training company. The drills done at the combine are not necessarily indicators of success in the NFL, but they can help explain game film or make scouts go back and re-evaluate film. The drills that most scouts, and fans, look at are the 40-yard dash, the short shuttle, broad jump, vertical jump and bench press, along with myriad on-field position drills.
The combine is a test of one’s physical and mental stamina; the participants are tested and taken through interviews with teams where they question football IQ as well as a player’s ability to handle tough questions.
The process is tiring but also fun. It’s one of the most important job interviews that any player ever will go through.
The 40 and the short shuttle measure a player’s ability to be fluid. The broad and vertical jumps measure explosiveness. The bench press is a marker of strength. The on-field drills allow coaches to see how well you can simulate movements that coaches deem important to success and development at a particular position on the field.
The nine former ’Noles invited: tight end Ryan Izzo, safety Derwin James, offensive tackle Rick Leonard, cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, linebacker Jacob Pugh, defensive end Josh Sweat, wide receiver Auden Tate and linebacker Matthew Thomas. Here’s a brief rundown of what the offensive skill-position players and defensive players need to show.
TE Ryan Izzo
Izzo (6 feet 5, 250 pounds) was a big target who was underutilized in Jimbo Fisher’s scheme. He would have benefited from another year in school, so it will be imperative at the combine that he show off some athleticism. You can see on tape that he was a good blocker, but in a passing league, you have to be able to do more. Currently, he is a third-day projection, but if he runs well, you might see teams that could use a TE2 take a chance on him.
S Derwin James
James (6-3, 215) is the highest-projected player for the ’Noles. He has been hyped as a highly versatile player, but I think FSU tried to use him too many different ways and it hurt the Seminoles defensively. The combine is where players go to put on a show, and I’d have my popcorn ready to watch him at the combine and FSU’s Pro Day on March 20. I believe he has the ability to run a 4.4 and have a vertical of 40-plus inches, which will excite defensive coordinators and help him move up in the first round – maybe even into the top 10.
CB Tarvarus McFadden
McFadden (6-2, 198) has all the physical attributes one could ask for in a cornerback. But does he want it? That’s really the only question any talent evaluator is going to ask. If he shows up in shape and runs a sub 4.5, he’ll have his name called on the second day, more than likely. He’s athletic but some of the questions one might have can’t really be answered in shorts. If he can show explosiveness, it’ll definitely make scouts question what they see on film.
DT Derrick Nnadi
Nnadi (6-1, 312) had a good college career and showed flashes of dominance. One of the downsides of staying for your senior season is that it gives scouts more film to evaluate – which gives them more time to find fault. I look for him to do well on the bench press, but for him to get into the mix to be a second-day pick, he has to break 5 seconds in the 40 and, most important, so a great 10-yard split so scouts can see explosiveness. Teams want a 3 technique tackle to be more explosive and a nose tackle to be more stout.
OLB Jacob Pugh
There’s just not a lot of film on Pugh (6-4, 232), and he needs to make his somewhat surprising combine invitation pay off. I read that teams expect him to run a 4.9. He must perform well at the combine, then follow that up at his Pro Day.
LB Matthew Thomas
Thomas (6-3, 227) has great athletic ability and a good showing at the definitely will help him get into the mix to be a fourth- or fifth-round selection. He needs to accentuate his positive attributes, and show in interviews that he has good football knowledge. He made plays during the 2017 season, but a knock on FSU defenders was the inability to make the play, especially when the defense needed to get off the field. Thomas reminds me of a bigger version of Telvin Smith, and what I think will help him is the NFL success of some late-round FSU linebackers (see Geno Hayes, Nigel Bradham and Vince Williams as well).
DE Josh Sweat
Sweat (6-4, 250) has all the sexy measurables that you want in your prototype edge rusher. Staying healthy in 2017 helped him. The combine will give him an opportunity to show off his athleticism; he should do well in the drills, and could jump into the second day of the draft. His 12.5 sacks in the past two seasons helps his cause. Good showings in the vertical jump, short shuttle and 40 would give GMs the hope that he could be a good edge rusher.
WR Auden Tate
FSU hasn’t had many receivers get drafted during the Jimbo Fisher era (only two selected since 2007), but if Tate (6-5, 225) can run a sub-4.5 and jump in the 35-inch range, he could go in the second round – and maybe even higher if there is a run on receivers. He runs good routes, but just had some bad luck with injuries. He’s a big body and a quarterback’s best friend in the red zone. He has a tremendous upside: A tall receiver who can run always will be valued.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/fsu-players-nfl-scouting-combine/