Injury and Character | Who Needs to Help Themselves at the NFL Combine
The 2012 NFL Scouting Combine is underway this week with the offensive lineman, tight ends and kickers being the first to work out later this week.
The combine not only allows players to test out their physical abilities with drills such as the forty yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, and bench press, but also to interview with NFL coaches and general managers.
These interviews are important for some players that have had past character concerns.
Players such as Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be under the microscope this week. Burfict, who is a Top 15 all around talent, could fall out of the first few rounds if coaches opt that he is not coachable or will see too many costly penalties.
On the flip side, players will receive physicals and guys like Washington running back Chris Polk will need to get checked out to make sure his right shoulder will hold through an NFL career.
Here are some key names that need to interview well, or check out positively in a physical in order to help their draft stock.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon was arrested for a DUI in October of 2010.
Coaches will want to see if that was just a one time mistake, or if it is something that could haunt them down the road.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
Burfict has shown such a knack for getting to the football and making big plays that it is hard to picture him outside of the Top 15.
That is until you see the number of personal fouls that he had cost his team in his career.
On top of consistent personal fouls, it was reported that Burfict was changing the plays in the huddle, and refused to listen to Dennis Erickson, which ultimately lead to Burfict not starting for the bowl game against Boise State and his benching against California.
Burfict needs exceptional interviews to maintain his first round place, but if he struggles, he could fall out of the first round.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Floyd has showcased a ton of talent, but has yet to showcase that he can stay responsible off of the field.
He has had at least two run ins with underage drinking, at one point with his blood alcohol content level twice the legal limit.
Floyd has a lot of explaining to do this week, but will get opportunities to prove that he has matured.
Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
Harris’ history features multiple traffic violations, as well as breaking of team rules that forced his dismissal from the Oregon program in December.
He has been pulled over at least once with marijuana, as well as speeding excessively.
A very talented cornerback, Harris needs to prove that he can be responsible and not lean towards the Pac-Man Jones route.
Janzen Jackson, FS, McNeese State
Jackson had a promising young career at Tennessee before being dismissed from the team. After run ins with robbery charges (which were dropped), and drug abuse issues, Jackson was no longer welcome in Tennessee.
He transferred to McNeese State and had a successful career, but he will need to show coaches that it is all behind him.
Jackson is a very talented safety, and gets the benefit of yet another weak safety class.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Jeffery’s concerns are more motivational issues than anything.
He came into the off-season overweight and did not seem to be in the best of shape, which will make coaches ask if he can dedicate himself to their program.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Jenkins saw numerous run ins with marijuana which ultimately led to his dismissal at Florida when Will Muschamp replaced Urban Meyer.
His flawless 2011 at North Alabama will help, but he will still have to answer many questions about his maturity. He’s a Top 15 talent.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick has generally been a model athlete, that is until he was cited for possession of marijuana and under the influence of drugs just shortly after the BCS Championship victory.
Questions as to why he waited until he declared to make mistakes, or perhaps get caught, will arise in the interview process.
Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina
Not only did Paige-Moss suffer a torn ACL in the under-whelming Belk Bowl, but he didn’t have very kind comments about his program.
Paige-Moss had a series of tweets that were not exactly coach friendly after the loss to Missouri in the Belk Bowl, saying things like “horrible coaches”, and much more.
ACL injury combined with poor attitude will be hard to defend at the NFL Combine.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Broyles became the NCAA’s All-Time reception leader against Texas A&M in November. During that game, his collegiate career ended with a torn ACL.
He won’t be ready to participate in combine drills, but he will be able to show doctors how well that he has progressed since the injury.
Josh Chapman, NT, Alabama
Chapman reportedly played with a torn meniscus and ACL in the BCS Championship game, as well as most of the 2011 season.
It shows his toughness, but that’s also putting a lot of wear and tear on crucial ligaments, especially for a big nose tackle.
Pure 3-4 nose tackles are tough to find, and coaches will be very intrigued to see if it will heal properly or not.
Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
Crick showed a lot of upside after Ndamukong Suh left, proving that he wasn’t just benefiting from the double teams that Suh took on.
Unfortunately his torn pectoral early in the season kept him from getting to prove that for a second year.
He has big potential if he can prove that he’s healthy.
Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
Datko showed late first round potential at left tackle before having surgery on both shoulders prior to 2011.
Unfortunately, Datko’s surgeries did not help, and he was forced to miss the rest of the season after playing four games.
Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M
A pulled hamstring nagged Judie during his 2011 campaign.
He missed six games in his last season with the Aggies, and will have to show scouts that he’s 100%.
Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Minnifield, the son of former Browns great Frank Minnifield, had a productive 2011 season.
Unfortunately, he injured his knee practicing for the Chick-fil-A Bowl and missed the game.
Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford
Owusu showed promise as both a wide receiver and kick returner as a sophomore and junior.
Three concussions in just over a year held Owusu out of five games, including the Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
Polk is a very talented runner that had multiple surgeries to his right shoulder as a freshman and sophomore.
Of course he carried the ball over 550 times in his career, which is a big reason why teams will want to make sure he can last long enough in the NFL to warrant a high pick.
500+ carries will make it hard to draft Polk in the first, especially since running backs can be found anywhere nowadays.