Who to Watch at the NFL Draft Combine

With the NFL Draft Combine quickly approaching, the New York Jets and Giants should both be on the lookout for talent to bring to their roster next year to improve on both of their dismal seasons. Here are players both franchises should be looking at.

Jets

AP Photo/John Bazemore
AP Photo/John Bazemore

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Mariota will be throwing at the combine, and the Jets will surely be watching him to see how well he handles throwing to receivers he hasn’t practiced with. The only question with Mariota at this point is whether or not he can excel with ball placement at the next level– instead of throwing to open receivers as he did at Oregon, he’ll have to throw receivers open in the NFL. If Mariota can show at least some ability to accurately hit receivers in stride, he should solidify himself as the number six pick in the draft for the Jets.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma: Green-Beckham’s path to the NFL Draft has been highly unusual. He was a star at Missouri before being dismissed from the program after last season. He then transferred to Oklahoma, where he had to sit out this past season, per NCAA rules. And now, having not played a single snap as a Sooner, Green-Beckham has declared for the Draft. He would probably be the top wideout on most teams’ draft boards had he not been dismissed from Missouri. He’s supremely talented, with a lethal combination of size and speed. He’ll need to show he’s not rusty, and he’ll need to interview very well, but if he does that, he becomes a contender for the number six pick, too– chances are he doesn’t fall to the Jets in Round 2.

Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (OH): Rollins made a name for himself as a likely Day 2 pick this past season, but with only a year of college football under his belt, he’s also extremely raw. The Jets will look to see how much he has progressed this offseason, especially in his technique. If he shows progress at the Combine, he’ll be squarely on the Jets’ radar in Round 2.

Giants

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: Many mock drafts (including mine) have the Giants taking the former Hawkeye with the ninth overall pick, but how he performs at the combine could play a big role in determining whether or not that actually comes true. The main question surrounding Scherff: Will he play guard or right tackle at the next level? If he tests well in speed and agility drills, he’ll make a strong case to be a very good right tackle in the NFL. If he doesn’t test that well, most teams will likely project him as an exceptional guard– valuable in the NFL, but probably not worth a top-10 Draft selection.

Dante Fowler, Jr., DE, Florida: Fowler is generally considered to be the third ranked pass-rusher in this class, behind Shane Ray of Missouri and Randy Gregory of Nebraska (in no particular order). A strong combine could vault Fowler into the top 10 picks, perfect for the Giants with the ninth overall pick. But it still remains to be season whether or not Fowler makes it past the Bears and Falcons, who have the two picks before the Giants.

Hau’Oli Kikaha, DE, Washington: I have profiled Kikaha as a defensive end, but some others have him classified as an outside linebacker. Personally, I think he fits better as a  DE, but he’ll need to show he’s strong enough to play with his hand in the ground. He’s on the lighter side for a DE right now, but he’s a really good pass-rusher, who I think could be a really interesting third-round pick.

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