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NFL Combine 2016 Preview: A few things to watch for

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

My favorite part of the offseason besides the draft itself is the NFL Combine. Many people usually discount the Combine as the underwear olympics, but the truth is that it is an integral part of teams' draft process. For me, it plays a big part in confirming things I see on the tape while also painting a picture of potentially untapped potential.

In terms of positional application, the combine is most important, to me, for trench players. At the NFL level, few things are more important than having top tier athletes along both the offensive and defensive line. Beyond the trenches, I think the drills hold a bit less merit, but it's always important to keep an eye out for athletes. This may be a bit simplistic, but in a sport, usually the best collection of athletic skill wins.

Here are some things to keep an eye on this weekend...

  • Derrick Henry is one of the more divisive players in this class among draft media. The 6-4, 247 pound reigning Heisman winner is a home run threat and his style as a player is divergent to what many expect from a player of his stature. He is often lazily profiled as a pure power back when in actuality, he is much more dynamic. It will be incredibly interesting to see how he tests in the 40 yard dash and agility drills. He has excellent movement skills for anyone, let alone a man his size. It will be fascinating to see that ability quantified this weekend.
  • If you have been following my work throughout the draft season dating back to the summer, my draft crush on Indiana tackle, Jason Spriggs, is well documented. His call to arms on tape has always been his athletic ability and as a former tight end, he should have an eye popping week in Indy. As a possible target at 13, I would be interested to see how his numbers stack up with possible future teammate, Lane Johnson.
  • This is a stacked defensive line class from the inside out. Legitimately, there could be 15 really good players getting drafted in the top 50 of this year's draft. More than any other position, athletic ability matters with defensive linemen. It will be incredibly interesting to see how guys who are perceived to be less athletic like Joey Bosa, Deforest Buckner and Emmanuel Ogbah stack up to the likes of Sheldon Rankins, Noah Spence, Chris Jones and Robert Nkemdiche. Their athletic numbers will go long way to color my opinion of them throughout this process.
  • Braxton Miller is awesome. Not really necessary to expand on that, but I might as well. He is an outstanding athlete capable of scoring from anywhere on the field with the ball in his hands. I am incredibly excited to see how well he can run and how he looks in positional drills.
  • As a quarterback needy team, it is obvious to keep an eye on how the signal callers fare throughout the combine. Athletic testing isn't paramount for quarterbacks, but I am keeping an eye on how the quarterbacks look during drills and also who the Eagles will be interested. I am most interested to see Paxton Lynch, Vernon Adams and Cardale Jones' weekends in terms of how they look.

The combine is fun event, period. It is always fascinating to see athletes do athlete things and a lot of these drills are a lot more applicable than they are given credit for. Keep an eye out and we will have more content throughout the weekend with some updates!

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