We’ve already covered how this year’s defensive combine invites fit into drafting tendencies under Steve Keim. Now we’ll see how the rookies on the other side of the ball fair against previous benchmarks.
Like I mentioned last week, this isn’t a perfect set of thresholds. It never is with small sample sizes. (For example, we have a whopping two whole quarterback prospects from which to guess at potential thresholds.)
We could have ten whole years of Keim prospects and we might only then have an fairly accurate picture of what thresholds the Cardinal’s F.O. has in place for future prospects. And that’s before we consider the influence an all new coaching staff will have.
Rather, let’s take note of what prospects make several or all of the marks, and also take note of some thresholds that may not matter as much for those that don’t meet the filters. It might be safe to say that these prospects will be very high on the board if they have corresponding film grades to match their measurements and athletic testing. And likewise, if there are prospects that fall short by a not insignificant amount in one or more categories, it may be safe to assume these guys are far down the board. If they make the cut at all.
A note on my methodology, as you’ll notice or may have already noticed, not every position group has the same sets of thresholds. The reason why is that while Prospect A at tight end might have tested in all categories, Prospect B was unable to test. And Prospect C did run the 40 yard dash and participated in the bench press, but did not in other athletic drills. So now we only have two marks to work with that we can take a stab at minimum thresholds set by the FO. Despite Prospect A doing all the combine work, it’s useless if we do not have corresponding data points to make an educated guess.
Now, onto quarterbacks. (A reminder: Blue = Meets or exceeds all thresholds. Bold = Meets/exceeds thresholds with limited testing. Red = Fails to meet thresholds.)
If you’ve been following this franchise since 2013, you’ll know that this regime has only taken a shine to absolute units when it comes to prospects under center. And having only two prospects to set up filters for will really narrow this bunch down when it comes to measurements. But it makes sense if one is to believe the rumors of how infatuated the team has been with prospects like Borltes, Wentz and Allen.
Tyree Jackson is the only prospect to make the mark in all categories. All that said, I don’t know that we can take this and eliminate the board. Kyler Murray, Gardner Minshew and Will Grier are all scheme fits. And Jackson presents an intriguing project.
Running Backs (And fullbacks?):
The running backs drafted under Keim are a varied group. So it’s no surprise that so many backs make the mark. I don’t know what to make of our blues in this group: Ryquell Armstead, Alex Barnes, Travis Homer, Miles Sanders and Dexter Williams. More interesting to note is the prospects with limited testing that did hit all the marks - among whom are popular names such as Josh Jacobs, Rodney Anderson and Justice Hill. I can’t imagine the team spending the amount necessary it would take to draft Jacobs. And Anderson’s injury history should scare off a team with a RB room that is pretty well set. That said I am a big Justice Hill fan, and while I think they can forego the entire position this year, I wouldn’t complain if they spent a day 3 pick on him should he fall that far. (He won’t.)
If you’re a Henderson fan, he’s one inch short in height from making all the marks he tested/measured in. I’d breath easy. And if you’re a Love fan, he’s only a half inch+ away on arm length. I don’t imagine that eliminates him from the picture. For any Montgomery fans, he’s an inch and a half away on the vert. I do imagine the explosive and agility drills bear a lot of weight relative to the rest of our thresholds, but I’d think he’d be safe given his solid film. As meaningless as we should treat the bench press, he is only 1 rep away from satisfying that category.
This is another weird set of thresholds. We all know the affinity for smaller receivers around here. So nearly this entire class makes several if not all of the measurements. Athletic testing is likewise slightly skewed because of the relative speed and agility these smaller and receivers tested at.
And just like we all predicted, Terry McLaurin is the our only “blue” in this bunch.
Given the aforementioned speedier receivers drafted in the past, I wouldn’t weight the 40 yard too heavily with litany of prospects who fall short in it. Don’t disregard it entirely, though.
Hurd and Arcega-Whiteside are two of my personal favorites, so I for one am glad to see them make all the marks they measured and tested in.
I know there are a lot of Harry fans out there, and given his size and the nature of his game while only being shy of the 40 mark by .06 seconds, I think you can breath easy.
You should know better by now but just in case it bears repeating, don’t sweat the bench. If you’re in the Boykin, E. Hall, Campbell or Antoine Wesley camp - they’re fine. (Though six is a little low for Wesley...)
I think Isabella should be fine too, for those of you who are fans. I think, anyway. This is where things get interesting. Where do you draw the line on being undersized? He’s got much more bulk than a JJ Nelson - but the combination of height and arm length might be pause for concern. How small is too small of a catch radius?
Another favorite of mine - if not my favorite receiver - Hakeem Butler is only .01 of a second shy of making the mark on the 40. And Mecole Hardman, a name brought up around here recently - an eighth of an inch shy on arm length. Both are fine.
The prospect many hold as WR1, D.K. Metcalf falls shy in both agility drills. Not by a significant amount, but being in the 2 and 3 percentile in the two areas will undoubtedly draw lots of concern. It’s safe to say he’s probably well shy of any thresholds here... Now the question is, how hard to you hold to your thresholds? Does the tape and potential usage assuage those concerns?
Another group where I don’t know what to do with our “blues”. But let’s take a look at some of the top prospects who flag red. Fant, Hockenson, Sternberger and Knox are only slightly short in the areas they flag red in. I doubt hand size is a threshold that is heavily weighted.
Irv Smith is interested as he is well undersized for the position. But given his potential role as a possible TE/h-back hybrid in Kingsbury’s offense, is that a huge issues?
Andre Dillard is another lone “blue” among his peers. A prime candidate should another first round pick be acquired. Likewise for Jawaan Taylor, who hits the mark with his limited testing. Cajuste is another name to take note of, while he’s fallen down draft boards as of late, he may be an intriguing target on day 2 given his blend of athleticism, scheme fit, and positional need. Kaleb McGary may be another name to keep an eye on, who would have been flagged as blue aside from being a quarter inch short on arm length.
Interior Offensive Line (Guards/Centers):
This unit sees a lot more blue prospects, and given the lack of athleticism in previous prospects like Evan Boehm and Dorian Johnson, it’s not hard to see why so many pass the marks.
This presents another interesting question. How quickly do you adjust your thresholds? Self scouting is a big part of the process that doesn’t quite get discussed as often. And in my opinion, it’s one area this regime has fallen short in. One would think that surely some standards have been raised, particularly where athletic testing is concerned. If even only be a marginal bit.
There’s not much to see here. All the big names check out. Lindstrom is an eighth of an inch shy from meeting all criteria, and Michael Jordan 2 reps shy on the bench press.
For those of you interested in Risner as a tackle, he would also be “blue” in that group.
In summary, all prospects that hit or exceed every mark include:
Tyree Jackson (Buffalo)
Ryquell Armstead (Temple), Alex Barnes (KSU), Travis Homer (Miami), Miles Sanders (Penn. St.), Dexter Williams (ND)
Terry McLaurin (Ohio St.)
Kendall Blanton (Missouri), Josh Oliver (San Jose St.), Dax Raymond (Utah St.)
Andre Dillard (Wash. St.)
Garrett Bradbury (NC St.), Michael Deiter (Wisconsin), Erik McCoy (Texas A&M), Dalton Risner (KSU), Dru Samia (OU)
So there you have it, everyone. It should be interesting to see how the draft shakes out relative to these thresholds, and I look forward to revisiting this again next year with more data points to narrow the search down. Enjoy.