The NFL Combine is finally here. As you already know, three Sooners are among the 300 players invited to Indy ready to showcase their size, strength, skills and athleticism. The long week of questions, workouts and competition began for the prospects on Tuesday, February 28 and will conclude on Monday, March 6. Here’s what you need to know before on-field workouts begin Friday.
Where: Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis
Samaje Perine leads off in the first group comprised of punters, kickers, offensive lineman and running backs. Dede Westbrook will be part of group two made up of quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends, while Charles Walker rounds out the trio in group three with the rest of this year’s defensive linemen and linebackers. Thankfully for OU fans, Jordan Thomas is still on campus and not part of group four and the defensive backs who conclude the activities on Monday. Seniors Jordan Evans and Ahmad Thomas were also draft-eligible but did not receive invites to the combine, along with early entrant Joe Mixon.
RB Samaje Perine
Perine arrived with his counterparts on Tuesday and is getting set for his on-field workout tomorrow. His group completed their bench press earlier today, with our guy running away with first as expected. Perine is currently projected to go in rounds three or four and is considered the seventh-ranked running back on the board.
Top RB bench press reps #NFLCombine:— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) March 2, 2017
Samaje Perine 30
Chris Carson 23
Dalvin Cook 22
De'Veon Smith 22
(*Freddie Stevenson – 24 reps)
In case you missed it, check out Samaje showing those youngbloods what’s up on the bench here. His 30 reps were seventh-highest among running backs since 2003. He was also on-point in the geography portion of his interview.
Samaje Perine, 21, wins the Lebron James young old-guy award. Was asked to name longest river in world by one team. "The Nile." Nailed it. pic.twitter.com/v2y6wybiRL— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) March 2, 2017
NFL COMPARISON: Michael Turner
BOTTOM LINE: Perine is a physical runner who can create additional yardage through power and can be a complimentary "banger" for a team who already has a slasher. Perine doesn't have the burst or play speed to be a dynamic lead back, but he can handle a heavy workload if needed and he should become an immediate short-yardage and goal-line option. - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
A look back...
WR Dede Westbrook
Dede Westbrook is projected to go in round two and is regarded as a top-five wide receiver in this draft. The group is topped by Clemson’s Mike Williams and Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and also includes Washington’s John Ross. We all know Dede has speed to burn for days, but his size is still a concern. Though some compare Westbrook to the Chargers’ Travis Benjamin, as an Eagles fan I’ve always seen DeSean Jackson upside in the 2016 Biletnikoff winner. This group arrived yesterday, will bench press and do interviews tomorrow then take the field for drills on Saturday.
NFL COMPARISON: Travis Benjamin
BOTTOM LINE: Natural glider with ability to play outside but could be moved to slot due to size concerns. Often found running in the clear thanks to strong double moves and weak competition. Evaluating Westbrook is challenging due to a lack of strong competition, but his separation quickness, second gear, and reliable hands are all translatable play traits that should turn into catches on the next level. - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
The best of Dede...
DT Charles Walker
Walker is part of Day 3’s group of defensive linemen and linebackers. This group’s interviews, testing and bench press will be on Saturday, and they’ll take the field on Sunday for workouts and drills. Walker currently projects to go in rounds five or six. Despite some of the character and concussion issues he will be asked about in his interviews, Walker is still expected to be drafted. Some scouts have said he’s talented but inconsistent and could still have a way to go to impress, but should find a team on his size and pedigree alone. Hopefully, his reviews from the OU coaches aren’t too harsh, as NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein feels they may be.
NFL COMPARISON: Clinton McDonald
BOTTOM LINE: Disruptive defensive tackle with the initial quickness and power to become a factor for a one-gapping, upfield front if he can ever put it all together. Despite his flashes, Walker's career starts can be counted on one hand and 2016 was a complete loss of a season. NFL personnel men are likely to get harsh reviews from the Sooners coaching staff and teams will need to do their work on Walker's concussion situation, but his athleticism and potential give him a chance to become an NFL starter. - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
I never had a problem with Charles making the decision he did. What’s best for a student-athlete and his family’s future is not something I can decide or pass judgment on. I hope he ends up in the right place with a chance to make many plays like the one below through a long NFL career.
Along with the Sooner trio, I’m also excited to watch a few standouts from other schools as well, especially Deshaun Watson, Dalvin Cook, Mike Williams, Corey Davis, John Ross and Adoree’ Jackson. It’ll be interesting to see who ends up with the fastest 40 time this year. It’ll be a close race, but our guy Dede could be in the mix.
I’m also pumped to watch Zach Cunningham, because he is awesome.