The NFL Scouting Combine has begun with weigh-ins, interviews, and tests, but the exciting part of the combine begins on Friday when the athletic skills and abilities of the future NFL players are put on display.
One player who has already stood out is LSU running back Leonard Fournette for the reason he weighed in at the 2017 NFL Combine at 240 pounds, heavier than the 235 pounds he played at during his days with the LSU Tigers.
Fournette is the top-rated running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, and all eyes will be on him and how he performs at the NFL Combine, with running backs taking center stage on Friday. Battling injuries, Fournette in his final season with the Tigers rushed for 843 yards on 129 carries, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
The collegiate superstar rushed for nearly 2,000 yards on 300 carries in 2015 and just over 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2014. Darryl Slater of NJ.com wrote about the “winners and losers” from the first day of the 2017 NFL Combine, saying the following about the running back:
“We’ll see what Fournette runs in the 40-yard dash, but if he’s slow, his weight could be an issue. Or maybe he blazes his 40 at that weight… which would further boost his stock as a well-regarded, all-around back.”
Fournette will most likely be the most watched player of the entire NFL Combine due to the weight issue, and the fact teams are always in search of the next star running back to add to their roster.
With the running backs, offensive linemen, and special teams players on the field Friday, the next day on Saturday brings the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. Saturday will have some high-profile names on the field, showcasing their skills and athletic abilities for those in attendance as the NFL Combine will also air on the NFL Network.
One of those players at the NFL Combine to watch on Saturday is JuJu Smith-Schuster of USC. Smith-Schuster caught 70 passes for over 900 yards for the Trojans in 2016, including one of his best games on the national level coming in the Rose Bowl against Penn State. That game saw the standout wide receiver catch seven passes for 133 yards and one touchdown.
Smith-Schuster will be one of the most interesting players to watch during the NFL Combine because of his speed, so be sure to watch the 40-yard dash when he takes his turn. NFL.com Draft Analyst Chad Reuter lists Smith-Schuster as one of his wide receivers with the most to prove at the NFL Combine.
“Scouts have concerns about his quickness and ability to separate downfield, though his upper-body strength should allow him to gain that edge more often than people believe.”
One quarterback to watch at the NFL Combine is Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina. He could be the first quarterback selected in the NFL Draft, but a bad performance at the NFL Combine could hamper that possible outcome.
Some NFL experts believe the experience level, or lack thereof, possessed by Trubisky might hurt his NFL Draft stock, with Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com wondering about the quarterback before the NFL Combine and calling him a “mystery” due to just 13 career starts.
“Actually, the experience is just beginning Tuesday at the NFL combine. Scouts and GMs and coaches can’t wait to wrap their minds and stopwatches around Trubisky.”
This is what will make the NFL Combine so interesting to watch beginning this Friday. With many interested in how Fournette will run, how Smith-Schuster will perform, and the unknown that is Trubisky, the NFL Combine has become “Must See TV” for NFL fans, even if just to catch up on the three aforementioned players. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, when it comes to the NFL Combine and the storylines available.
With the NFL Combine, it will also be exciting to watch who makes themselves a known name by their performance, whether it is good or bad.
[Featured Image by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images]