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Draft Buzz: Fallout From The Combine

Posted Mar 7, 2016

The NFL Scouting Combine concluded a week ago yet the results, both good and bad, are still being felt. Here’s the latest buzz on many of the conclusions from the week in Indianapolis.

1. After last Sunday’s workout, I mentioned defensive end/outside linebacker Kamalei Correa as one of the Combine’s big winners and the prediction is becoming reality. Team executives have been comparing Correa to All-Pro Clay Matthews in style and substance. Both measure 6-3 and 240 pounds. Both have lined up at various defensive front seven spots in college and both play with a vicious attitude. In addition to a very good Combine workout, Correa is receiving high grades for his interviews. There’s now a belief the Boise State junior will land in the bottom half of the first round.

2. There has been a lot of discussion regarding edge rusher Noah Spence's interviews, which have been described to me from personnel executives as shaky at best. There have also been reports that certain teams have removed Spence from their draft boards. However, many teams around the league don’t feel it's time to sound the alarm on the underclassman. Most of the teams that interviewed Spence at the Combine also met with him during the Senior Bowl and few red flags were raised then.

I’m told it Spence was nervous during Combine interviews and that he wasn't dodging questions, refusing to give answers or giving answers which concerned team officials. People I’ve spoken with don’t feel Spence has a substance abuse problem rather believe it was the end result of a young kid who liked the party scene too much. Spence has voluntarily put himself on a drug testing protocol to show NFL decision-makers that any drug usage is in the past. At the same time, no one I spoke with definitively graded Spence as a Top 15 selection.

3. Many analysts have been critical of the slow times at this year's Combine, especially from the final two days of field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. I’ve been assured there’s a good reason. It seems there were various strains of the flu and other viruses floating around the Combine which not only affected players, but also team officials. Food poisoning from a local establishment which was frequented from many of the invited players and team representatives has also been named as a culprit. I’m told defensive backs Darian Thompson and Rashard Robinson as well as defensive front seven players such as Jason Fanaika, James Cowser and Josh Forrest all suffered from various stomach and flu ailments which resulted in poor testing numbers.

4. Everyone is looking for the next power forward to play the tight end position and the name making the rounds this year is Baylor hoops star Rico Gathers. Six days ago, Gathers announced that once the college basketball season is complete he intends to pursue a career in the NFL as a tight end. Baylor is expected to make the NCAA Tournament and play deep into the month of March, denying Gathers any chance of participating in the Pro Day on March 16. Those close to the situation tell me the game plan right now is for Gathers to hold a private workout in mid-April with the hopes that Robert Griffin quarterbacks the workout. Until then, Gathers has been doing football work when the basketball team has downtime.

Tony Pauline has been a draft analyst for more than 25 years, and is president and editor of, a site dedicated year-round coverage of the NFL Draft. You can follow on Twitter @TonyPauline

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