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Results for the Ball State NFL Combine Three

2014 nfl draftAdmittedly, our NFL knowledge at the Pylon is somewhat limited. Fearless Leader uses it as an excuse to day drink on fall Sundays. RV is a loyal Browns fan. Jason is a Colts homer. Suffice to say, Mike Mayock, we aren’t. However, for a few weeks in the spring, our college football fandom and Cardinal expertise intersects with the pay to play folks when the NFL Draft lead up begins.

This past weekend, it was the annual meat market known as the NFL Combine, where “amateurs” the nation over converge on Indy to participate in things like 40 yard dashes, shuttle runs, and position-specific drills. This of course follows the poking and prodding of doctors and trainers examining, measuring, and basically looking for a reason to downgrade your potential future possibilities. All the while, coaches, owners, and GMs are lurking in the stands and watching everything like shadow governments in the hopes of finding a steal or getting a star for cheap and in all reality, just looking forward to some St. Elmo’s or Scotty’s at the conclusion of their day. To see exactly what the general public thinks about the potential successes of NFL teams, take a gander at NFL futures odds. It’s a good way to see what the market is bearing out before draft day selections are made.

The football factories like Notre Dame, USC, Oregon, and basically the entire SEC are old pros at the combine and don’t get their world in a tizzy for any one particular prospect. For the MAC? Not so much. For a MAC player to be invited to the NFL Combine is celebration-worthy. For three MAC players from the same team to be invited? That’s cause for a party. And when it just so happens that team is Ball State, well it’s a Pylon party and you’re all invited. Here’s how Keith Wenning, Willie Snead, and Jonathan Newsome fared on their first foray into professional football…

Keith WenningKEITH WENNING, QB
Official Height: 6’3″
Official Weight: 218 lbs
Official Arm Length: 31 1/4″
Official Hand Measurement: 10″
40 Yard Dash Time: 5.00 seconds
Comparative QB That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: AJ McCarron (Alabama) 4.94 seconds
Vertical Jump: 28.0 inches
Comparative QB That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: AJ McCarron (Alabama) 28.0 inches
Broad Jump: 100.0 inches
Comparative QB That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: AJ McCarron (Alabama) 99.0 inches
3 Cone Drill: 7.07 seconds
Comparative QB That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Blake Bortles (Central Florida) 7.08 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.25 seconds
Comparative QB That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Tajh Boyd (Clemson) 4.23 seconds

NFL.com says….
Strengths: “Experienced, four-year starter with a solid build. Very smart and understands the offense. Outstanding football character and personal character — works at his craft, is driven to succeed and will represent a franchise well. Respected leader — two-time team captain. Football is very improtant to him. Very tough and highly competitive. Has directed 10 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career. Consistent in his approach.”

Weaknesses: “Average arm strength, athletic ability and pocket mobility to avoid the first wave and make throws off-balance and under duress. Carries a heavyness in his body and lacks twitch. Works almost exclusively out of the gun and will need to adapt to working from under center. Cannot easily manipulate his arm and throwing platform. Does not drive the deep out and accuracy and placement diminishes downfield. Production is inflated from regularly facing inferior MAC competition.”

Bottom Line: “Heavy-bodied, dink-and-dunk, rhythm passer who could be challenged to fit the ball into tight NFL windows. Has the makeup desired in a No. 3 QB and could develop into a functional backup in a West Coast passing game.”

Well, now, if I were Keith, I’d go ahead and scratch NFL.com off my Christmas card list. The rest of the MAC would do well to do the same, given the potshot they take at the conference as a whole. If Keith had built up his stats against the likes of UMass and Miami, then I could see his skills and results being questioned. Last I checked, Wenning accumulated most of that against the MAC West, which I wouldn’t consider “inferior” in the least. The most shocking thing to me was how close Keith Wenning is in the measurable drills to AJ McCarron. It makes sense now that I think about it, but it isn’t something I would have automatically went to.

Willie SneadWILLIE SNEAD, WR
Official Height: 5’11”
Official Weight: 195 lbs
Official Arm Length: 33″
Official Hand Measurement: 10 1/4″
40 Yard Dash Time: 4.62 seconds
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Devin Street (Pitt) 4.55 seconds
Vertical Jump: 33.5″
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Sammy Watkins (Clemson) 34.0 inches
Broad Jump: 113.0 inches
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Jarvis Landry (LSU) 110.0 inches
3 Cone Drill: 7.19 seconds
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Martavis Bryant (Clemson) 7.18 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.39 seconds
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Sammy Watkins (Clemson) 4.34 seconds
60 Yard Shuttle: 11.96 seconds
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Jordan Matthews (Vandy) 11.84 seconds
Bench Press: 11 reps
Comparative WR That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Mike Evans (A&M) 12 reps

NFL.com says…
Strengths: “Controlled mover with nice balance. Gets in and out of breaks cleanly. Runs crisp routes — shows some savvy and subtle physicality to work himself open. Tracks and adjusts very well. Has soft, sure hands and catches naturally. Good concentration to make contested catches. Confident and competitive. Excellent two-year production.”

Weaknesses: “Lacks ideal height. Fairly monotone — does not have explosive speed to separate vertically. Too many catches are contested. Lacks wiggle to elude tacklers and create after the catch. Did not face top-notch competition.”

Bottom Line: “Productive, dependable, fairly polished possession receiver with natural receiving skills. Lacks ideal size and horsepower to thrive outside, but his sure hands give him a chance to compete for a role as a chain-moving, short-to-intermediate slot receiver.”

So the experts parrot back what everyone already knew about Willie Snead, in that what he lacks in traditional cookie-cutter intangibles like breakaway speed or height, he more than makes up for in his sure-handedness. Unless Willie gets drafted by the Raiders, I’d say most franchises value a player who can actually catch the ball over someone who can sprint past the defense only to drop the pass.

Jonathan NewsomeJONATHAN NEWSOME, DE
Official Height: 6’3″
Official Weight: 247 lbs
Official Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Official Hand Measurement: 9 5/8″
40 Yard Dash Time: 4.73 seconds
Comparative DL That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Kareem Martin (UNC) 4.72 seconds
Vertical Jump: 34.0 inch
Comparative DL That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Marcus Smith (Louisville) 35.0 inches
Broad Jump: 117.0 inches
Comparative DL That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Chris Smith (Arkansas) 121.0 inches
3 Cone Drill: 7.31 seconds
Comparative DL That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Jadeven Clowney (South Carolina) 7.27 seconds)
Bench Press: 21 reps
Comparative DL That You’ve Seen Fawned Over: Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) 21 reps

NFL.com says…
Strengths: “Very good edge burst. Has a long second step and attacks the edges with speed and leverage. Flattens down the line — good lateral pursuit. Can get depth in coverage and spot drop. Flashes explosive striking ability as a tackler.”

Weaknesses: “Strength-deficient and gets hammered in the box. Thin-legged and narrow-based. Too light to set the edge. Limited cover skills — is tight in the hips and not natural moving in reverse or coming out of breaks. Immature early in college career.”

Bottom Line: “A 4-3 open-side speed rusher ideally suited for an elephant end or 3-4 Jack linebacker role. Is at his best rushing the passer and has shown improved maturity since departing Ohio State before the 2011 season.”

Maturity mentioned twice in the same recap from the NFL? That’s sort of the Holy Grail of talent evaluation. I can only imagine the thought in a writer’s head went something like, “Let’s ignore the last couple years of on field talent with just overarching broad strokes, but we better make sure we mention the always enlightening ‘maturity issues'”. Of course, when you are basing someone’s potential as a multi-million dollar investment on numbers and twenty minutes or so of on-field drills, I guess you do what you gotta do.

The Final Grades
The NFL gives each prospect a grade out of 10 and a synopsis of what that grade means. For example, a 9.00-10.00 qualifies as a “once in a lifetime player” where a 4.50 is the lowest, standing for “might make it to an NFL training camp”. Anything below that and it’s “needs more time in a developmental league”. For the Cardinal Combine Three, they received the following:

Keith Wenning: 5.00 (50-50 chance to make an NFL roster)

Willie Snead: 5.16 (Better than average chance to make an NFL roster)

Jonathan Newsome: 5.17 (Better than average chance to make an NFL roster)

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2 Responses

  1. Keep dreaming, boys. No way any of these chumps gets drafted. Wenning is too big and slow, Snead too small and slow, and Newsome too hopped up on boner pills.

  2. Well that’s just delightful and such insightful commentary. Kudos and congratulations on your future career as an NFL Draftnik.

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