by: Daniel House
Photo Credit: University of Minnesota
Four Gophers players have received invites to the NFL Scouting Combine later this month. Edge rusher Carter Coughlin, wide receiver Tyler Johnson, linebacker Kamal Martin and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will participate in the event, which begins on Feb. 24 in Indianapolis.
During these workouts, scouts and executives will gather critical testing metrics for each player. Many teams rely upon these numbers to determine whether a player meets a certain positional threshold. Within several online databases, fans can monitor how each athlete's testing metrics measure up to past NFL Draft picks. For example, MockDraftable's "spider chart" and Kent Lee Platte's Relative Athletic Score (RAS) metrics are excellent resources to use. Most NFL teams have even larger databases filled with athletic and psychological testing.
While watching these workouts, there are a few things I will be monitoring closely. First, scouts are waiting to see wide receiver Tyler Johnson's 40-yard dash time. I'm very confident he will test above average in the explosiveness categories, such as the vertical and broad jumps. The biggest question is where he will land in the speed threshold. If Johnson falls within the 4.5 range, he would likely place in the average threshold for a player with his projected measurements.
I'm most intrigued to see all of the testing numbers for safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Every NFL team is going to fall in love with his versatility and dynamic playmaking ability. After watching him over the past few years, I've compared his ball skills, versatility and overall game to Tyrann Mathieu, Earl Thomas and Quandre Diggs. Due to his range and natural instincts, he may fit best in a defense with heavy zone concepts. From a testing standpoint, if Winfield is above average in a few categories, his draft stock could skyrocket to another level. I'm not sure where he'll end up in the testing spectrum, but I'm guessing it will be in the range of comparisons I listed above.
During the draft process, teams will be experimenting with Carter Coughlin's potential versatility. He probably fits best as an off-ball linebacker in a 3-4 defense. I could also see a 4-3 team exploring the idea of converting him into a SAM linebacker. During Senior Bowl weigh-ins, Coughlin already trimmed down to 234 pounds. Teams will want to see how he tests and moves in coverage drills. Right now, the toughest job is projecting which position suits Coughlin best. From my perspective, he has enough versatility to be a disruptive blitzer and likely fits best in a hybrid role/system.
Linebacker Kamal Martin was invited to the Senior Bowl, but didn't participate in football activities (recovering from an injury). If he is ready to take part in the Scouting Combine, it would be huge for his NFL Draft stock. Martin was extremely productive and features the length, athleticism and range NFL teams are searching for. When watching Martin's film, scouts will also be drawn to his blitzing skills. Despite battling injuries, he still managed to rack up 66 tackles in just eight games. If he tests well and checks the boxes medically, teams will love Martin's upside and special teams value.
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Tag(s): Gopher Football