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4 Downs: Truths About The 2016 NFL Combine

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The NFL Combine is in full swing and as we learn about the prospects, we’re also learning about free agency.  Here is a rundown of some of what we learned.

1. There Are Very Few Impact Players In This Draft

It didn’t take sub-par workout numbers to tell us that this isn’t going to be a legendary draft class.  Laremy Tunsil looks like the best player in the class and after him there are questions throughout.  What position will Jalen Ramsey play?  How healthy is Myles Jack?  Has Joey Bosa already reached his ceiling?  Can Noah Spence stay out of trouble?

There is no wide receiver that seems to be an instant game-changer, no running back looks like he can be as good as Todd Gurley (who was coming off a torn ACL) and there is a major lack of depth at offensive tackle.

2. QB’s Will Be Overdrafted

Carson Wentz and Jared Goff appear to be the top two quarterbacks in this draft and they will be selected pretty high.  With that said, neither is up to the level of last year’s top two picks, quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.  Both had superior physical tools and were more accomplished collegiate players.

It is possible that the 2016 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks is deeper, as Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg and Cardale Jones could surprise and potentially turn into starters on the next level. With that said, Wentz and Goff aren’t top-tiered talents but will be selected as such.

3. Trade Up If You Believe In Tunsil, Jack or Ramsey

It’s normally not a great idea to trade up into the Top 5 of the NFL Draft.  The draft is a virtual lottery and the more lottery tickets you have, the better.  With that said, when we’re talking about a class that has limited top-tiered talent as this one does, you can maximize your odds of winning if you can get one of those talents.

Laremy Tunsil seems very close to a sure thing and it would be a major surprise if the Tennessee Titans didn’t take him with the No. 1 overall pick.  With that said, the Titans roster is bad and they need multiple players and new general manager John Robinson could be tempted if the right deal is presented to him.

Moving up makes more sense for teams that are already selecting in the 4-10 range, as they wouldn’t have to give up quite as much.  This is all hinging on those teams believing that guys like Tunsil, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey will be impact players.

The Dallas Cowboys seem to be a perfect fit for Jack, and selecting fourth doesn’t guarantee that they would get him.  A team like the San Diego Chargers, selecting third-overall would be a nice partner as they desperately need offensive line help and if Tunsil isn’t there it really wouldn’t make sense for them to take a Ronnie Stanley at pick No. 3.

Another potential trade partner would be the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick No. 5.  The Jags need pass rushers and a safety and either Jack or Ramsey would make a lot of sense.  This would allow the Chargers to move back and recoup some more value while paying an offensive tackle a little bit less money.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Cleveland Browns would move back also.  Unless they fall in love with either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, they would likely be able to get one of them at the fifth or sixth pick while again saving money and getting more picks to rebuild.

4. Character (Or Lack Therof) Matters

In a league in which Greg Hardy has earned $1 million per week, it’s difficult to say that character is the end-all, be-all.

With that said, Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett’s non-endorsement of Hardy eluding to him being elsewhere in 2016 signals that the league is growing weary of bad guys and subsequent black eyes.

One of the most popular questions to all of the draftees has been, “Do you smoke weed?”

Not that it’s seen as a huge deal among front offices, but it’s more important than ever to have squeaky clean, good citizens.  Especially if there isn’t a huge talent disparity between the questionable character guys and everyone else.

Guys like Noah Spence, Robert Nkemdiche and Connor Cook are being scrutinized as much as any Combine participants before them, and they can thank guys like Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory for it.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.