It’s been a long time coming that people inside of the NFL have been calling for a better process to the NFL Combine. Every year, players that should be seen on the big stage have to wait for their pro days to meet with NFL clubs. Most people gripe about it, few have solutions to the process.
The Combine invites 325 players to participate in the event in Indianapolis throughout a full week of interviews with NFL teams, orientation with the NFLPA, and on-field workouts nationally televised in prime time. This year, 262 players will be selected in the NFL Draft. This gives us, at the very least, 60 players that we know won’t be drafted.
Inspired by the now-famous NotAngryScout account on Twitter, I’m listing the Combine snubs who should have been at the event. Granted, I know that AngryScout asked for 30, but it is difficult to find guys better because of the nature of the process. One team’s reject in this class could be another’s late round pick. It’s a wild year in terms of talent and I think that’s why the Combine looked the way that it did.
Before we get into that side of the content, let’s talk about a couple of ideas that the Combine could use to better their event.
If a player opts out of the workout, a replacement should be called
This year, several top prospects opted out of working out any drills before the event even started, including Alabama OT Evan Neal, LSU CB Derek Stingley, and Ole Miss QB Matt Corral.
In the All-Star games, such as the Senior Bowl and the Shrine Bowl, when players opt out of the game last minute, replacements are invited to take their place during the first couple days on the field. The Combine should have a list of guys ready to do the same.
Granted, the Combine isn’t about on-field work. It’s about the rest of the process, the job interviews, the pre-boarding for a lot of these players prior to entering the NFL. Regardless, I think that it would provide an incredible opportunity to players even getting a last minute call to perform at the Combine. For them to be included in the process would be a hug step in the right direction, and less complaining in these types of articles.
The Combine should hire a consult from each NFL team
The NFL Combine should have a designated consult from each NFL team to better keep in touch with who wants to be seen. The consult could be a head scout, an outsider, a general manager, or anyone whom the team deems as necessary for this role. This could be formed into a “board,” with a representative from each of the 32 NFL teams, and a few elected individuals from the Combine to run the board as a chairman, vice chairman, and whatever else they designate as necessary.
Two months before the Combine, the board should meet and discuss the players that teams are wanting to see. A formal invite list can be made there, at least of players outside of the clear cut favorites and early-round locks that will automatically be invited. This meeting should focus more on who the majority of teams have as later round prospects and guys they could potentially target on day three.
I can hear people complaining that this would be too transparent for teams who like to play draft games with smoke and mirrors in their actions surrounding the draft. No, it wouldn’t. It could potentially fix some of the problems in the Combine but the games would be amped up to a higher degree. I do think players like Eric Johnson, who will be mentioned below, wouldn’t have a Combine snub if this was taking place.
Many underclassmen seem to get automatic invites and that shouldn’t be the case
It seems though as every year, the Combine always grabs the underclassmen who declare early. Part of this, it feels like, is because underclassmen are ineligible for any all-star events that come before the Combine. While the NFL has traditionally discouraged athletes from declaring early for the draft and prefers that they finish school first, the Combine appears to give them the opportunity to meet with teams regardless.
Maybe that shouldn’t be the case, especially in these next few drafts that will be overloaded with depth talent due to the super seniors who will be cycling through.
Yes, it’s preferred that prospects complete their schooling before going to the NFL because of the uncertainty that comes with the league. Players careers are typically short and most NFL players are in and out of the league within the first three years after college. Of those players, almost none of them are compensated very well. The school helps them with life after football.
Maybe the Combine should encourage that as well, too. Especially for some of these guys coming out that aren’t at the same tier as some of the seniors not receiving invites.
Top Combine snubs that should have gotten into the event.
In this section, I’m highlighting the top snubs that I think should have gotten to the Combine. This is a combination of players I’m excited about and think have a great chance of getting picked as well as players that I heard directly from NFL teams in Indianapolis that should have been there. Next to their name, I’m listing the player that they should have been invited over.
DT Eric Johnson, Missouri State > EDGE Sam Williams, Ole Miss
I heard about Eric Johnson all week while in Indianapolis. Everyone loves this kid. The NFLPA Bowl star performed so well in his week in Los Angeles that he was invited to the Senior Bowl where he continued to shine in front of scouts and coaches. He could hear his name called toward the front of day three in the NFL Draft. As for Williams, he’s had too many off-field issues for teams to be as attracted to him. He could have handled himself at a pro day, and may not end up getting drafted despite having the talent.
DL La’Ron Stokes, Oklahoma > DL Tre Williams, Arkansas
La’Ron Stokes is an extremely athletic 3-tech defender who performed well across the defensive line at Oklahoma. He tested at his pro day very well with great numbers showing his explosive ability – something that Tre Williams lacks tremendously. Williams bombed his numbers, both at the Combine and then again on his pro day, looking like a very unathletic pass rusher who had his struggles on tape against the run.
RB Raheem Blackshear, Virginia Tech > RB Leddie Brown, West Virginia
Granted, the Combine chose a ton of running back prospects to participate and it’s mostly because of the lack of a separation between the prospects at the position this year, and the sheer number of them. But, regarding the versatility that Blackshear shows as a runner, receiver, and special teams player, it’s a real shame that he wasn’t able to show that. Instead, we put a downhill runner in the Combine who doesn’t offer much outside of that. Great job.
EDGE Chauncey Manac, Louisiana > DL Tyree Johnson, Texas A&M
The Combine went with a big school name who ended up bombing his testing at the Combine, which if you had seen his tape already, you would have aware that his athleticism was not up to par with the rest of the class. However, Chauncey Manac has the athletic profile and the size that pops on tape. He’s more technical too, showing the promise and flash in knowing how to use his hands. Despite his performance all week at the NFLPA Bowl, Manac would not be invited to the combine while somehow Texas A&M’s Tyree Johnson was invited.
TE Trae Barry, Boston College > TE Grant Calcaterra, SMU
It’s nothing personal against Grant Calcaterra, who has returned to football after retiring for a season due to several concussions that he suffered in college, but that’s just the problem. A history of concussions is typically something that follows a player – that’s not to be mean to Calcaterra, those are just trends and facts.
Trae Barry had a successful career at Jacksonville State and played in the 2021 Spring season before transferring to Boston College and producing there as both a blacker and a receiver. His size is better (Barry is 6’6 and 240 lbs, Calcaterra is 6’3″ and 243 lbs), his length is better, and he appears to be more of an athlete without the injury history. It’s amazing that Barry wasn’t invited.
The Other Snubs
The rest of the snubs have been compiled into this list.
- TE Derrick Deese Jr, San Jose State > TE Austin Allen, Nebraska
- WR Andrew Parchment, Florida State > WR Slade Bolden, Alabama
- QB Anthony Brown, Oregon > QB Dustin Crum, Kent State
- LB James Houston, Jackson State > LB Chance Campbell, Ole Miss
- C Michael Maietti, Missouri > OT Myron Cunningham, Arkansas
- OL Josh Rivas, Kansas State > OL Austin Deculas, LSU
- QB Zerrick Cooper, Jacksonville State > QB D’Eriq King, Miami (FL)
- DL Matt Henningsen, Wisconsin > DL Jonathan Ford, Miami (FL)
- DL Marquez Bimage, California > LB Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Boston College
- TE Andrew Ogletree, Youngstown State > TE Curtis Hodges, Arizona State
- DL Daniel Joseph, North Carolina State > DL Jordan Jackson, Air Force
- LB Arron Mosby, Fresno State > LB Nephi Sewell, Utah
- OL Ben Adler, Kansas State > OL Luke Tenuta, Virginia Tech
- WR Isaiah Bradford, Oregon State > WR Mike Woods, Oklahoma
- WR Tanner Conner, Idaho State > WR Johnny Johnson III, Oregon
You can join the conversation by following me on Twitter @DraftVogel, and let me know what you think.