The long march to the NFL Draft continues, nearly two whole months of talking heads endlessly updating their mock drafts despite no more football to be played and tape to be watched. And with the NFL combine over, pro days remain the only football activity left to be judged. In Coral Gables, Miami will try to put another player back in the first round after the earliest player selected in 2018 was Chad Thomas, going in the third round.
Zeroing in on the Combine however, the Canes had six players participate to varying levels of success. We’ll break down the winners and losers of this past week but with one caveat. These judgments are based solely on combine performance, not what they can do when they play actual football.
Note: All percentiles are calculated through the folks at Mock Draftable.
Travis Homer - Homer was undoubtedly the biggest winner, separating himself from a runningback class this year that, besides Bama’s two backs and Kentucky’s Benny Snell, doesn’t have many clear options for teams who want to add a backfield piece. Homer tested extremely well, scoring in the upper 90th percentile among all Combine RBs in his vertical leap and broad jump. He displayed tremendous lower body explosion and looked fast in his 40 yard dash, recording a 4.48 time. Homer has some good momentum now and could be looked at as a late 3rd, early 4th round pick after his performance and the all-around solid tape he has.
Sheldrick Redwine - Redwine, throughout most of his career, has been solid but not quite in the same breath of the players he’s played alongside on the Hurricanes’ defense. That went out the window this past combine, when he proved his athletic credentials. Though on the smaller side of safeties, Redwine posted great numbers; 4.44 40, 39” vertical leap, and a broad jump that put him in the 93th percentile of the defense’s deepest defenders. Redwine solidified himself as a draftable player and should be selected early on Day 3.
Michael Jackson - Despite two excellent seasons as a full-time starter, MJ hasn’t been regarded very highly in the draft process. That ought to begin to change as he proved himself to be a more than capable athlete on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium. Having been criticized as “slow” by some scouts thus far, Jackson disproved those myths with some solid numbers. He had a more than respectable 4.45 40, and ranked in the 92nd percentile of CBs in both the broad jump and vertical leap. He didn’t have a great performance at the 3 cone drill, 7.12 seconds stuck him at the 12th percentile, but his massive frame makes him much bigger than most corners in the NFL today. Jackson should be a late Day 2, early Day 3 pick come April.
Joe Jackson - The other Jackson didn’t have a great combine, quite concerning when considering the immense depth of this year’s edge rusher class. If anyone in this Miami group is going in the first round, it’s going to be the power rushing edge force that is Joe Jackson. But Jackson looked a bit light at 6’4,” 275 and didn’t show tremendous burst and explosion. His broad jump and vertical were in the 43rd and 12th percentiles respectively and he didn’t run the 40, 3 cone or 20 yard shuttle drills. He displayed his massive wingspan early in the weekend but Jackson still has to prove to scouts that he has the speed and technique to be more than a rotational rusher.
Gerald Willis - Gerald Willis is fit into the loser category mostly because he didn’t participate in any drills. His spider chart is ghastly to look at (10th percentile height, 9th percentile wingspan, 0 percentile hand size), and he didn’t have a chance to show off that great speed and agility that separates him from other interior defenders. Willis has not made it clear why he didn’t participate but would help himself by showing off his athletic ability at the Miami Pro Day.
Jaquan Johnson - Miami’s captain, one of their most consistent and important defensive players over the past couple years had a day to forget to Indy. Coming in as a smaller safety, just barely 5’10” and 190, Johnson would need to show off his speed and agility to offset that. He didn’t. Instead, he posted a 40 time that looked more like a lumbering, two-down MLB. 4.69 seconds. Ouch. Johnson’s vertical leap was just 33 inches, the 20th percentile for safeties. His performance at the bench press was solid, 18 reps (63rd percentile) and he didn’t embarrass himself at the broad jump (56th percentile). But in failing to impress in both the weigh-ins and athletic testing portions of the combine, Johnson may have set himself back. Hopefully Miami’s defensive captain can regain some momentum at the Pro Day.