They’ve all heard the stories but few know exactly what to expect this week in Indianapolis.
The NFL Combine, like many things under Roger Goodell, has become a larger-than-life spectacle with hundreds of coaches, general managers and media gathering inside Lucas Oil Stadium to poke, examine and critique a laundry list of NFL hopefuls. The state of Arizona is well-represented with ASU’s Carl Bradford, Will Sutton and Marion Grice, UofA’s Ka’Deem Carey and former Valley prep stars like Trent Murphy and Devon Kennard.
Below is a closer look at these athletes and what NFL personnel will be looking for over the next weekend.
Carl Bradford: workout warrior who opted to forego his final season of eligibility and take his skills to the next level. The speedy rush end is instinctive and physical at the point of attack. His quickness allows him to slip off blocks and get in the backfield as he led ASU in tackles for loss (18) and sacks (8.5) last season. One thing he’ll need to prove this weekend at the Combine is he’s both quick and fast. It will also be interesting to see his official measurements as some draft insiders believe his size (6’1, 243 pounds) will hurt him as he can be engulfed by bigger, more powerful edge blockers.
Ka’Deem Carey: Tucson Canyon del Oro High and Arizona star running back is also giving up his final season and turning pro. Extremely productive back who amassed 42 rushing touchdowns and nearly 4,000 rushing yards the past two years in Rich Rodriguez’s offense. A natural runner Carey has the speed to get to the corner and the power to run between the tackles. He’s also a natural pass-catcher with soft hands who improved his pass protection and blitz pickups. Some believe the heavy workload at UofA could shorten his NFL life and be certain interested teams will question Carey about his off-the-field, domestic violence issue against his pregnant girlfriend which was eventually dropped.
Marion Grice: ASU running back parlayed an impressive junior season in Tempe into an even better senior year until missing the final three games with a lower leg injury. Grice has deceptive speed and is versatile enough to catch passes in the flat and return kicks, as well. A willing blocker who also has a knack for finding the end zone, the former JUCO star from Texas is thin-framed and has a tendency of running upright. He will not work out but will go through all the other scheduled events. He’s likely a mid-round pick.
Devon Kennard: highly decorated two-way prep prospect from Desert Vista High in Ahwatukee who starred as an outside linebacker at USC. Missed the entire 2012 season with a torn pectoral muscle but bounced back with an impressive 2013. Led the Trojans in tackles (60) and sacks (nine) last fall. A student of the game on the field and in the classroom (3.23 GPA) he has only average quickness and closing speed but upside and blood lines (father Derek played in the NFL for 11 years) make him an intriguing late-round option for the right team.
Taylor Lewan: former Chaparral Firebird who was recruited by Rich Rodriguez to Michigan and became a four-year starter for the Wolverines. Like a Ford truck: strong, tough and dependable. Quick enough to handle smaller defensive ends with excellent balance for a guy his size. His footwork can get sloppy at times and needs to stay focused to cut down on penalties. With that being said he’s almost a lock to be drafted in the first round.
Trent Murphy: former Brophy Prep standout who wrapped up an impressive four-year career at Stanford. 6’6, 252-pound two-time All-American likely won’t last past the second round of the draft. Long arms and legs allow him to cover ground in space and track down quarterbacks and ball carriers at his outside linebacker position. High-motor player with a great feel for the game. One fault is he isn’t a “great athlete.” Skill set has been compared to Vikings Pro-Bowler Jared Allen.
Will Sutton: ASU defensive lineman will be one of the most scrutinized players in Indianapolis. Sutton put the NFL on hold after being named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior after registering 20 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. His senior year was a bit inconsistent but made big including a game-sealing interception at Utah late in the year. An explosive player who’s able to slip through gaps Sutton looked overweight and slow at the Senior Bowl. He’s expected to be a second to third-round prospect but could slide if his Combine workouts don’t impress.
Check back to Sports360AZ.com all weekend for complete coverage.