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Ten Combine Snubs To Watch In NFL Draft

Posted Feb 15, 2017

There were 38 players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft who were not invited to the Scouting Combine. Guard Brandon Brooks, tight end Brent Celek, and safety Rodney McLeod are some of the current Eagles who have thrived in the league despite being snubbed from the marquee exhibition for draft prospects. Over 300 players will converge in Indianapolis to be put through the gamut of drills, tests, and interviews. Last year, there were only 256 draft picks. There’s bound to be some overlap. Who are the players who may fall through the cracks in this year’s draft? Let’s look at some of the players I felt deserved an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine based on their on-field performance.

Quarterback: Brady Gustafson, Montana

I was pretty surprised when Gustafson didn’t get invited to the Senior Bowl, but color me shocked that he won’t be in Indianapolis. The small-school passer certainly has his flaws, but in a thin quarterback group I’m surprised that a big-bodied kid with a solid arm who showed flashes of being a good pocket passer didn’t get an invite over some of the other throwers in attendance.

Honorable Mention: Zach Terrell (Western Michigan), Alek Torgersen (Penn), Antonio Pipkin (Tiffin), Wes Lunt (Illinois)

Running Back: Khalfani Muhammad, California

A lot has been made about the decision to not invite Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon due to his off-field transgressions, so I don’t really view him as a "snub." Instead, I want to focus on a player who I’m surprised won’t be there. I think Muhammad would’ve been one of the standouts at his position from an athletic testing standpoint. There have been reports that Muhammad, who is the top sprinter for Cal’s track team, would’ve clocked a sub-4.40 time in the 40-yard dash. That speed translates to the field where Muhammad was a big-play threat as a runner, a receiver, and a kick returner during his college career. We’ll have to wait for his pro day to see those eye-popping test scores from the Inglewood, California native.

Honorable Mention: Devante Mays (Utah State), Shock Linwood (Baylor), I’Tavius Mathers (Middle Tennessee State), Marcus Cox (Appalachian State), Joe Yearby (Miami)

Wide Receiver: Austin Carr, Northwestern

Like Mixon, Baylor’s Ishmael Zamora and Ole Miss’ Damore’ea Stringfellow were also reportedly not invited to the Combine because of concerns off the field, so I want to focus on a player away from those two who should’ve been invited to Indy. Austin Carr was a first-team All-Big Ten selection this past year with Northwestern as well as a third-team All-America pick. The shifty slot man has very good hands and is a shifty route runner, and in a lot of ways I like him as much or even more than other players of similar body types such as Ryan Switzer (North Carolina) and Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech), both of whom were invited to Indy. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Carr ended up hearing his name called on draft weekend.

Honorable Mention: DeAngelo Yancey (Purdue), Dontre Wilson (Ohio State), Tony Stevens (Auburn), Trey Griffey (Arizona), Corey Smith (Ohio State), Deon-Tay McManus (Marshall), Chad Williams (Grambling)

Tight End: Colin Jeter, LSU

In a star-studded tight end group, Jeter and others just fell through the cracks as players who may not be the flashiest receivers or most explosive athletes, but can get it done as blockers. The former Air Force cadet has NFL size, reliable hands, and a good feel as an in-line player, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ends up on an active roster this fall.

Honorable Mention: Taylor McNamara (USC), Blake Jarwin (Oklahoma State), Derrick Griffin (Texas Southern)

Offensive Line: Kyle Kalis, Michigan

This one was a bit surprising because the offensive line group overall is not a strength of this draft class. Kalis played at both the East-West Shrine Game and at the Senior Bowl after starting all four years at Michigan. He’s not a powerful mauler and he’s not an impressive athlete, so maybe that’s why he’s not getting the respect of others. However, Kalis displays the technique, toughness, and mental processing of a potential starter at guard in the NFL down the road.

Honorable Mention: Evan Goodman (Arizona State), Kent Perkins (Texas), Greg Pyke (Georgia), Dieugot Joseph (FIU), Erik Magnuson (Michigan), Robert Leff (Auburn)

Edge Rusher: Corey Vereen, Tennessee

Many will point to Jimmie Gilbert from Colorado as the biggest surprise from the edge rusher or linebacker group to not earn an invite, but I like Vereen a bit more (though they are very different kinds of players). Vereen profiles best as a backup defensive end in a 4-3 scheme where he's asked to just attack (like the scheme here in Philadelphia). Vereen is a power and leverage player who will rely on his hands to win. I love his effort and competitiveness, but his lack of athletic upside is an issue. I don’t think he would’ve looked particularly good in Combine athletic drills. Still, I am a bit surprised to see him left off of the list.

Honorable Mention: Jimmie Gilbert (Colorado), Deon Hollins (UCLA), Se’Von Pittman (Akron), Karter Schult (Northern Iowa), Hunter Dimick (Utah)

Defensive Tackle: Travis Tuiloma, BYU

The starting nose tackle for the Cougars missed time this year due to injury, but when he’s on the field he’s one of the more impressive players at his position because of his anchor strength and ability to defend the run inside. While he’s not much of a pass rusher, I’m surprised that Tuiloma didn’t get an invite. Keep an eye on him as a sleeper in this class.

Honorable Mention: DeAngelo Brown (Louisville), Adam Butler (Vanderbilt), Matt Godin (Michigan), Joey Ivie (Florida), Tyrique Jarrett (Pitt)

Linebacker: James Onwualu, Notre Dame

Onwualu may be my pick for the biggest snub regardless of position. The Minnesota native is rangy, athletic, and physical downhill. He was a running back and defensive back in high school who began his career with the Irish as a receiver. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if, with his physical skill set, he developed into a starter down the road after a year or two of seasoning as he adapts to the NFL game. He may end up as the highest selection of any non-Combine invitee in what is a thin linebacker class overall.

Honorable Mention: Charmeachelle Moore (Kansas State), Dylan Cole (Missouri State), Nyeem Wartman-White (Penn State), T.J. Holloman (South Carolina), Kenneth Olugbode (Colorado), Jordan Herdman (Simon Fraser), Elijah Lee (Kansas State)

Cornerback: Brad Watson, Wake Forest

I previously wrote that Watson was the best cornerback in attendance at the East-West Shrine Game. I still believe that his natural ball skills and size at the position will get him drafted in the middle rounds. He is not, however, an explosive athlete or a technician at the line of scrimmage in press coverage. Even though it’s an extremely deep cornerback group, I’m very surprised that Watson didn’t earn an invite to Indy.

Honorable Mention: DJ Dean (Arkansas), Cole Luke (Notre Dame), Tyquwan Glass (Fresno State), Jeremy Cutrer (Middle Tennessee State), Tim Harris (Virginia), Aarion Maxey-Penton (Missouri)

Safety: Zach Edwards, Cincinnati

A player who stood out to me first as a junior in 2015, Edwards being left off the list is a bit of a surprise. I don't think he is a starting NFL safety at this point, but I do think he has potential as a third guy off the bench. He is a lanky safety with good play-recognition skills, but average physical tools. I wish Edwards was a more consistent tackler, but he is an all-around solid player who will have to wait for his pro day and individual visits to make his impression on teams.

Honorable Mention: Randall Goforth (UCLA), DeVon Edwards (Duke), Ryan Janvion (Wake Forest), Orion Stewart (Baylor), Max Redfield (Notre Dame)

Fran Duffy is the producer of “Eagles Game Plan” which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team’s games, practices and opponents.

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