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2018 NFL Scouting Combine Preview: The Hurricane Perspective

SOTU examines what’s at stake for the nine Hurricanes heading to Indianapolis as well as looking back at past combine performances of UM alumni.

Virginia v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With the city of Philadelphia still soaring from Sunday’s Super Bowl 52 victory, the conclusion of the 2017-’18 season marked the official stretch down the path to the 2018 NFL Draft. April 26th, the first day of the draft, is in the not-too-distant future, there’s plenty of evaluating by franchises and jockeying by prospects to be done before the Cleveland Browns are officially on the clock.

One of those evaluations is the annual NFL Scouting Combine that takes place in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. During their few days in Indy, prospects will be weighed, measured, tested and interviewed by team doctors of interested clubs and the national scouting service as well. The entire event, with the exception of the one-on-one interview process between team and players that take place behind closed doors during those 48 hours, will be televised on the league-run NFL Network.

On Tuesday February 6th, the NFL released the official list of invites to the combine. As one can imagine, the University of Miami will be well represented starting on March 1st through March 5th. The official invite list of Hurricanes is:

Kicker Michael Badgley

Wide Receiver Braxton Berrios

Cornerback De’Vonta ‘Dee’ Delaney

Tight End Christopher Herndon IV

Guard KC McDermott

Defensive Tackle R.J. McIntosh

Defensive Tackle Kendrick Norton

Defensive End Chad Thomas

Running Back Mark Walton

The names that got the invite are not surprising; however, the UM snub list does provide some intrigue. DE Trent Harris, DT Anthony Moten and OG Trevor Darling were not invited to the showcase. Harris, who led all Hurricane defenders with 8.5 sacks after the 2017 season, is a surprise omission among the group. This now puts more pressure on those who were not invited to the combine to perform at Miami’s Pro Day in the weeks to come.

For the players who will be heading to the Midwest, they’ve been prepping for the biggest job interview of their careers since the Orange Bowl. A few players—DE Chad Thomas, Michael Badgley and Braxton Berrios—had the opportunity to showcase themselves one more time in football drills and game action at a couple of college all-star events after the season. The combine will help determine just how athletic or not these guys are as NFL clubs try to lock in their draft boards before they’re on the clock to make a selection.

So, which ’Canes need to have a great weekend in Indy?

The easy answer would be all of them, of course. The real answer will be the defensive tackles, McIntosh and Norton. Since their decisions to forgo their senior season, there has been plenty of talk about their draft stock—or lack thereof. The duo, who at times were projected to be top 50 draft prospects in 2018, are now being projected to go anywhere from the fourth round or later, according to some analysts. There’s not much a defensive tackle can do during the combine other than run fast, put up decent numbers on the bench and show off good change-of-direction in the cone drills since they will be showing off technique more than their pass-rush or run-stop abilities. Making a good impression on the teams that they interview with could go a long way in helping their draft stock, especially with teams investigating player backgrounds of prospects that are currently ranked ahead of them.

Another part of the combine—aside from the interviews and on-field drills—that will be important is the medical report. For Mark Walton (ankle) and Chris Herndon (MCL) the medical evaluation could be more important than the on-field drills themselves. All three of the players mentioned have been trending upward since the end of the college season, despite coming back from those injuries.

The severity of Walton’s injury has not been revealed to the general public, so this will be the first time that NFL teams will be able to poke around to see how the ankle is healing and where Miami’s former lead back is in the recovery process. Based on his interview with the guys from the ‘Stick to Football’ podcast, Walton sounds eager to show off his athleticism for a large audience, especially coming back from a season plagued by injuries. There is a good feeling from many in the scouting community that a good weekend, from the medical exam to the on-field drills, could launch his draft stock into early day two territory.

In the case of Chris Herndon, according to his representation, he is ahead of schedule in his rehab. Expect to see Herndon to go through drills at Miami’s Pro Day in the coming weeks than at the combine.

Past Performances by ’Canes at the Combine

NFL: Combine
A year ago TE David Njoku turned in a solid combine performance that helped him secure a spot in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While the combine represents a neutral field in terms of competition, there’s nothing like holding bragging rights over some fellow alums. Which Hurricane has posted the fastest 40-yard dash in Indy? That honor belongs to Miami’s new defensive quality control analyst DeMarcus Van Dyke. Did Vince Wilfork put up the most reps on the bench press? The best performance at the combine in that respect belongs to Ereck Flowers, who put the bar up for 37 reps, barely edging out big Vince for the crown.

You can see where past Hurricanes stacked up in the charts below.

UM NFL Combine Performances Pt.1 (Since 2000)

Year Player Name 40-Yard Dash Player Name Bench Press Player Name Vertical Jump (IN)
Year Player Name 40-Yard Dash Player Name Bench Press Player Name Vertical Jump (IN)
2017 Stacy Coley 4.45 Danny Isidora 26 Reps David Njoku 37.5
2016 Artie Burns 4.46 Raphael Kirby 27 Reps Deon Bush 36
2015 Phillip Dorsett 4.33 Ereck Flowers 37 Reps Phillip Dorsett 37
2014 Allen Hurns 4.55 Brandon Linder 30 Reps Allen Hurns 31
2013 Brandon McGee 4.4 Mike James 28 Reps Mike James 35
2012 Travis Benjamin 4.31 Marcus Forston 35 Reps Benjamin 38
2011 Demarcus Van Dyke 4.28 Allen Bailey 27 Reps Colin McCarthy & Allen Bailey 36.5
2010 Jimmy Graham 4.53 Darryl Sharpton 24 Reps Jimmy Graham 38.5
2009 Bruce Johnson 4.42 Bruce Johnson 6 Reps Bruce Johnson 34.5
2008 Kenny Phillips 4.48 Tavares Gooden 22 Reps Glenn Sharpe 37
2007 Brandon Meriweather 4.47 Greg Olsen 23 Reps Greg Olsen 35.5
2006 Sinorice Moss 4.38 Orien Harris &Leon Williams 25 Reps Marcus Maxey 41.5
2005 Roscoe Parrish 4.37 Chris Myers 25 Reps Brock Berlin 29
2004 Kevin Beard 4.46 Vince Wilfork 36 Reps Jarrett Payton & Kevin Beard 31
2003 Andre Johnson 4.41 Matt Walters 30 Reps Andre Johnson 39
2002 Phillip Buchanon 4.31 Martin Bibla 35 Reps N/A N/A
2001 Santana Moss 4.31 Damione Lewis 22 Reps Leonard Myers 37
2000 Bubba Franks 4.85 Michael Boireau 26 Reps Michael Boireau 29

UM NFL Combine Performances Pt.2 (Since 2000)

Year Player Name Broad Jump Player Name 3 Cone Player Name Shuttle
Year Player Name Broad Jump Player Name 3 Cone Player Name Shuttle
2017 David Njoku 133 David Njoku 6.97 David Njoku 4.34
2016 Deon Bush 123 Ufomba Kamalu 7.32 Ufomba Kamalu 4.58
2015 Phillip Dorsett 122 Phillip Dorsett 6.7 Phillip Dorsett 4.11
2014 Hurns & Pat O'Donnell 120 Allen Hurns 7.23 Stephen Morris 4.49
2013 Brandon McGee 119 Brandon McGee 6.71 Brandon McGee 4.18
2012 Tommy Streeter 125 Tommy Streeter 7.08 Sean Spence 4.28
2011 Vincent Brown & DVD 121 Vincent Brown 6.64 Graig Cooper 4.03
2010 Jimmy Graham 120 Jimmy Graham 6.9 Jimmy Graham 4.45
2009 Bruce Johnson 125 Bruce Johnson 6.71 Bruce Johnson 4.05
2008 Kenny Phillips 121 Kenny Phillips 6.97 Kenny Phillips 4.27
2007 Greg Olsen 114 Ryan Moore 6.87 Brandon Meriweather 4.33
2006 Marcus Maxey 129 Leon Williams 7.47 Kelly Jennings 4
2005 Brock Berlin 109 Brock Berlin 7.49 Brock Berlin 4.54
2004 Kellen Winslow 120 Jarrett Payton 7.34 Jarrett Payton 4.31
2003 Andre Johnson 132 Jerome McDougle 7.28 Andrew Williams 4.47
2002 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2001 Leonard Myers 120 Leonard Myers 7.21 Leonard Myers 4.16
2000 Mondriel Fulcher 116 Mondriel Fulcher 7.46 Mondriel Fulcher 4.52

Forty and Fame

No event over the course of combine weekend is more scrutinized than the 40-yard dash. It’s an event where former Washington Huskies’ WR John Ross setting a new record time of 4.22 in the event, breaking former Titans’ RB Chris Johnson longstanding benchmark of 4.24, was met with a social media storm. Unfortunately, for Ross, since he did not run the the heat in a pair of Adidas footwear, he missed out on being given an island by the company. Whether you believe the 40 is the equivalent of the the dunk competition to all-star Saturday or just overblown, it continues to be a big draw. So until NFL Network starts focusing their cameras on the 3-cone and shuttle, the 40-yard dash will continue to be the marquee event of the weekend. For the curious, here are some of the official times for past Hurricanes who ran the 40-yard dash at the combine.

Notable  40-Yard Dash Performances by UM Players at the NFL Combine

Player Name 40-Yard Dash
Player Name 40-Yard Dash
Ed Reed 4.57
Bryant McKinnie 5.13
Clinton Portis 4.42
Jeremy Shockey 4.64
Sean Taylor 4.51
David Njoku 4.64
Duke Johnson 4.54
Denzel Perryman 4.74
Lamar Miller 4.34
Olivier Vernon 4.73
Sean Spence 4.66
Calais Campbell 5.04
Tavares Gooden 4.62
Jon Beason 4.72
Greg Olsen 4.51
Devin Hester 4.41
Frank Gore 4.58
Antrel Rolle 4.48
Jonathan Vilma 4.61
Vince Wilfork 5.08
D.J. Williams 4.55
Kellen Winslow 4.55
Ken Dorsey 4.7
Willis McGahee 4.45
Brett Romberg 5.2
Mike Rumph 4.47
Najeh Davenport 4.57
Thomas Brown (UGA RB) 4.51

You can see these Hurricanes in the ‘Underwear Olympics’ starting today on NFL Network. Day one features running backs, offensive linemen and specialists participating in on-field drills.