Over the next few days prospects will arrive in Indianapolis to begin preparations for the 2012 combine. The players are split into groups and use a staggered four-day schedule, with the event concluding a week today. Day one for each group includes registration, hospital examinations and x-rays, orientation and interviews. Day two consists of measurements, medicals, media meetings, psychological testing and further interviews. On day three there’s a NFLPA meeting, further testing and interviews. The final and most crucial day includes the work outs (timing, stations and skill drills) and then departure.
Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
Group 4 (QB, WO), Group 5 (QB, WO), Group 6 (RB)
Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)
Groups 1-3 will arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow, commence their schedule and begin work outs on Saturday. The quarterbacks, wide outs and running backs will arrive on Thursday and work out on Sunday. Defensive lineman and linebackers will go through drills on Monday and the defensive backs round things off on Tuesday. For a full list of the players invited, click here courtesy of Rob Rang at CBS Sportsline.
For those who are interested in this kind of thing – groups 1-3 will wear black, groups 4-6 red, groups 7-9 green and groups 10-11 blue. One other interesting thing to remember during the combine – the coin toss to determine whether Kansas City or Seattle will pick 11th overall will take place on Friday.
Monday should be an interesting day to see how the front seven players perform – a target area for the Seahawks in this draft. I’ll be paying particular attention to groups 7-9 next week, with several candidates for the #11 or #12 pick on show. One player in particular to keep an eye on is North Carolina’s Zach Brown. Some believe his stock is set for a boost when he works out, with a particularly fast forty-yard dash expected. He’s set records at UNC for sprinting and he flashed explosive speed and athleticism at the Senior Bowl. Any level of hype has been tempered slightly by his size limitations and the fact he’s almost exclusively restricted to the WILL position in the 4-3. However, his best football could be yet to come and don’t be surprised if he moves up the boards after the combine. I’ve added game-tape for Brown below vs Missouri and Louisville.
My own impression of Brown is mixed. There’s undoubted potential there and his athleticism is sometimes understated. He moves fluidly from sideline-to-sideline, can read and react in coverage better than most linebackers I’ve scouted and I’m often surprised how quickly he moves to make the tackle even when he’s transferring from one target to another or stationed on the opposite side of the field. Unfortunately, that mobility and athleticism has never translated to pass-rushing production and part of me remains suspicious of linebackers who don’t bring consistent pressure. The NFL has proven that linebackers can be found later, perhaps more so than any other position in the league. Seattle needs a pass rush on defense more than it needs a great cover linebacker.
Brown’s also not a big hitting force - as you’d expect given his size – and his tackling is occasionally a little sloppy. I found his 2011 tape to be a bit of a mixed bag (like so many UNC prospects) and often it was teammate Kevin Reddick making more plays and looking the better overall football player. Reddick doesn’t possess the same level of raw athleticism, but he may be a better overall player. Brown’s ceiling is undoubtedly higher, but will he realise that potential or prove to be another expensive bust at the position? Nevertheless, NFL teams love speed and athleticism and he will provide real benefits in coverage. If he can refine his pass rushing technique and provide another dimension there, you could be looking at a star. I think he’ll certainly become one of the big talking points at the combine.
I also wanted to bring attention to Tony Pauline’s updated top-50 big board this week for SI.com. It’s worth noting he currently has Zach Brown at #18 with the following write-up: “Brown is a terrific athlete who’s been a consistent force for the Tar Heels. He’s a three-down linebacker who stuffs the run or easily defends running backs and tight ends in coverage.” He’s certainly a draftable option for the Seahawks if their top options leave the board within the first ten picks.