By: Lucas Kochevar
The NFL scouting combine is here as the participants are starting to file into Indianapolis. The combine is something that teams look forward to every year as the teams really get a chance to get up close and personal with the prospects. The most eyes will be on the quarterback position with C.J. Stroud among the guys about to throw this week. The betting favorite for the first overall pick, Bryce Young, will not throw at the combine as he'll be waiting for the Alabama pro day to throw. As we find out every year, there will be some prospects that shine at the combine. Wide receiver John Ross is a perfect example as he broke the 40-yard dash record and shot up draft boards to ninth overall. In this LK League Notes, I'll go over some QBs and other prospects that could pop in Indianapolis this week.
The LK QB Rankings
The film has been reviewed and there have been some player profiles posted on this very site. Even with the combine and pro days, it'll take a lot to change my current rankings. In my opinion, the film doesn't lie and that's the biggest component I look at when evaluating talent. The next qualities to look for are the intangibles, leadership, and the measurements. When players are running drills against the air, it tells me about ten percent of what I need to know. Without further ado, here are my rankings:
The first four seem to be locks in the first round as analysts have them drafted in different spots around the first round. My hot take, which isn't that hot anymore, is Richardson over Levis. Both players had very similar seasons last year and the appeal of both of them is the tools. I like Richardson's tools more than Levis' and I love his potential. Richardson is very young in his career with only thirteen games under his belt and another reason why I think he's growing on me is the similarities to Trey Lance coming out of NDSU. I was a big Lance fan, I still am, and I think Richardson has those similar qualities between the big arm, strong mobility, and lack of experience. Levis is still okay in my eyes, but give me Richardson and his potential.
The next group of guys are projects that I think need to sit behind starters with experience or rebuilding teams that could take a shot on them. Hooker and Bennett IV are big names because of their previous season, but the fact that they are both 25 years old hurts them tremendously. Jake Haener was potentially the best QB in the country for the last month of the season. He also was the best QB at the Senior Bowl, but I think his lack of competition and no distinct trait could hinder him. He's very similar to Bailey Zappe in my eyes. Tanner McKee reminds me too much of Davis Mills, the last Stanford QB drafted, with a talented arm and no mobility. Jaren Hall is fascinating because he has a lively arm and mobility, but I'm not sure if he can translate well to the speed of the NFL with his processing of defenses.
The last four guys are simply backups in the league to me. Duggan was a great story in college football this year, but I think he's a tad behind when it comes his processing. He also will try and force throws into traffic, but I do really his intangibles and fundamentals. Tune had a solid college career, but who knows what he can be at the next level. Before last season, I thought O'Connell had great potential as a pocket passer. He has a number of great throws on film, but a lack of mobility and consistency takes him down to 12 for me. Bagent is a QB out of Shepherd University, a school I haven't heard of before evaluating him, and the simple fact of the unknown takes him down to last on my board.
Other Names to Watch For
Siaki Ika, DT Baylor : Ika is a mountain of a man that comes from Baylor at a staggering 6'4'', 358 lbs. The defensive tackle came to Baylor two seasons ago from LSU, as he was on the 2019 championship team. As we've seen in the past with Vita Vea and Jordan Davis, giant defensive tackles that can show they're agile enough will shoot up the draft boards to the top 15 picks.
Andre Carter, LB Army : It's not often that we see a service member enter the NFL draft, but Carter is a special case. Carter has a chance to shoot up draft boards with a strong combine in the drills and interview sections. Standing at 6'7'', Carter measures up in a fantastic way to other edge rushers in the past combines. If his athleticism can match his measurables, he should be a lock for the first round.
Israel Abanikanda, RB Pittsburgh : Abanikanda was a player I was surprised to see on this list because I remember him exploding onto the scene late last season and I thought he was younger. He scored 20 touchdowns last year and showed many instances of burst when scoring those touchdowns. I think he can benefit big time from a strong combine amongst a talented class of running backs.
Roschon Johnson, RB Texas : Another running back on the list, Johnson is a pure power back with great height and weight. As Bijan Robinson has all the hype, Johnson was a very effective partner in that backfield for Texas. If Johnson can show different aspects of his game, mainly his agility, I think he can benefit from the combine.
Darnell Washington, TE Georgia : Washington would often get lost in the shuffle at Georgia, but when he was involved, it was terrifying for opposing defenses. Similar to Ika, Washington is a mountain of a man and is shockingly agile for his size. Washington seems like one of those classic tight ends where he comes over from basketball and has a Hall of Fame career, similar to Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham. The Georgia Bulldogs tend to have freak-of-nature performances in Indy and I think Washington will be must-watch TV.
A.T. Perry, Wake Forest WR : The Wake Forest wide receiver made a name for himself quickly with QB Sam Hartman. Perry is a tall 6'5'', but on the skinnier side at 195 lbs. Perry has long arms and those will be big for him at the next level. If Perry can shine as an athlete and show his agility and route running, I think he can find many NFL suitors.
Eli Ricks, CB Alabama : Ricks had a very bumpy college career until his last year at Alabama. Even in his last season, I didn't think he was fantastic. It felt like he was constantly under duress on the back end, however, his status coming out of high school as a top recruit might help his case as a good prospect. A great combine could reinforce the type of talent he was coming out of high school. I think he also needs to nail interviews to rise up draft boards because teams will hold his past over his head.
Noah Sewell, LB Oregon : The younger brother of RT Penei Sewell, Noah is a completely different build than his brother. Their similarity is in their athleticism as Noah is a fantastic athelete at linebacker. He has a great mix of speed and power and I think that'll be on display at the combine. He's a big time athlete and I love his tools. He should be another guy to show out in Indianapolis.
As I said earlier, the teams are excited to get to Indianapolis. Although, I think the coaching staffs are more excited to eat steaks at St. Elmo. The combine is important to the evaluation process for many teams to really meet and get to know players. Every year someone shoots up the draft boards with a fantastic combine and I think the athletes are evolving. This year should give us a great crop of young athletes to show out at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Sources: Image via Joe Robbins, Getty Images. Players found here