The combine is upon us! It’s time for the stars of college football to prove that they can play with the big boys. Perhaps if not play, then they can still hang with the pros from an athletic standpoint.
For many, it’s a chance to prove themselves. For some, it’s a chance to make sure they hit certain NFL standards. Regardless, the beginning of a player’s career can be heavily influenced by the combine.
It also has an impact on each team. Some place more stock in athleticism than others. Some teams are just trying to figure if a player is athletic enough to fit their system and all they would ask them to do. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they will be looking for players to fit their new defense, as well as fill a few needs on the offensive side. Here are the players I think Jason Licht and company should keep an eye on this week.
Baker does a lot of things well as a corner. He can play on and off the line of scrimmage. He’s aware of the ball in the air. He can even show some physicality from time to time. The only question people have with him across the board is his speed. If he can prove he has the ability to keep up with NFL athletes, then he could be one of the Bucs top targets with their second pick.
The workouts should go very well for Williams. His combination of size, speed, and quickness are what makes him a likely top 15 pick. However, I don’t want to invest too much stock into his workouts because we already know he’s a great athlete. What I’ll be looking for, as I imagine the Bucs will be, is how Williams does in the interviews. There has been talk that Williams has a bad attitude and might not be coachable. If he can convince the Bucs that he’s “Greedy” Williams and not “Lazy” Williams, then he could be in play to be Tampa’s first-round pick.
Tillery is an interesting prospect for the Bucs to keep an eye on. He has the versatility to play defensive end and defensive tackle in a 4-3. What I really want to know is what kind of athlete he is. Is he agile enough to rush the passer from the outside? Is he strong enough to hold up on the inside? Can he be that perfect swing guy who can play in a 3-4 and a 4-3, or is he just a student of all and master of none? If Tillery tests well then he could be a target for the Bucs in the second round.
I think we all know that Oliver is an incredible athlete, but that doesn’t mean that the world won’t be locked in on him at the combine. He could be the Bucs pick at fifth overall because of the type of athlete he is. Should he underwhelm or perhaps measure in at say 6′, 265 lbs, then that could totally change how he’s viewed. If he tests historically well then that could solidify his position in the draft. Either way, the Bucs will be paying attention.
Ximines is a small school pass rusher who has the versatility to play both the 4-3 as a defensive end and a 3-4 as an outside linebacker. He looks good on tape, but there are questions he’ll need to try to answer in his workouts. For instance, he looks fairly agile and stronger than expected at the point of attack, but it’s unclear how he’ll measure up against guys who specialize as just run-stuffing defensive ends or speed rusher. If he can be just middle of the pack across the board, then I think the Bucs look to target him in the middle rounds.
Extremely quick off the line of scrimmage, Miller has great flexibility to bend the edge. I think with a strong workout in these areas, Miller will solidify himself as a top 40 pick in the draft. Aside from him testing as well as we expect, Miller will have to get a clean bill of health from his medical checks after suffering an injury late in the 2018 college football season. I expect everything to go smoothly for Miller and the Bucs to consider him with their second-round pick.
Anderson might be the most talented running back in this draft. His workout numbers don’t even really matter because everyone knows that this kid is great. The only thing that matters for Anderson is his medical evaluation. For a guy who has suffered a major injury each of the last four years, he has to be cleared as healthy. He can’t have any questions regarding his health as a guy who is already viewed as fragile.
Scharping moves really well for a guy who is 6’6” and 320 lbs. However, when he has gone against higher level competition, he has struggled. Particularly when it comes to more powerful defensive ends. He has to show that he’s an NFL caliber athlete at the combine. If not, he may get the label of a big fish in a small pond and tumble down draft boards.
There is so much to like about Johnson’s game. His hands are fantastic and his routes are excellent. The one question he needs to answer is if he’s a good enough athlete to continue to thrive at the NFL level. His tools look good across the board, but they might just be average by NFL standards. If he has a strong workout, then I expect him to be drafted no later than the third round.