Draft Blog: Post-Combine


Charles Tapper Is An Interesting Prospect

Every year there is a player at the NFL combine who tests out differently than what he looked like on tape. This can be because of a myriad of reasons like the way he was used or that he doesn’t have the instincts to play at full speed. This year, the player who tested differently was Oklahoma defensive lineman Charles Tapper.

His last two years with the Sooners, Tapper was deployed as a two-gapping defensive end who played in a frog stance, which mitigates a defensive player’s ability to utilize his athleticism in favor of body positioning and hand placement. This led most evaluators to believe that he was an average athlete; however, his combine performance told a different story. Tapper ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash combined with a 34-inch vertical and 9-foot-11 broad jump. These numbers tell the tale of an extremely athletic player, but you don’t see it on tape except for one game.

Against Kansas, Tapper was asked to utilize his athleticism a lot more and one-gap throughout the game. This led him to recording three sacks in the game. This would seem to point to the fact that Tapper was misused at Oklahoma and that he can be a much better player in the NFL. However, how do you quantify that and when would you be comfortable taking an athletic, but mysterious player? We will have to wait until April to find out.

How Free Agency Affects The NFL Draft

At this time of year, many people act like team needs are set in stone. Fans and analysts talk about who a team will choose like it is a fluid and changing entity. The biggest reason why a team’s needs can change between now and the draft is the fact that free agency begins on March 9th.

A team could have a need at offensive tackle, but if they sign a player like former Oakland Raider, Donald Penn, the need is no longer there and they will likely look elsewhere in the draft. While the old adage goes that you build your team through the draft, the Denver Broncos proved that you can actually find some of your main pieces through free agency. Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware were all found in free agency and played significant roles in the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

This is why it is futile for analysts to deal in absolutes about who teams could pick at this time of year. There is still so much that could change between now and then.

What’s Next?

With the NFL Scouting Combine over, the draft prospects will now look toward their pro day workouts. This is their opportunity to improve on the combine times and to do more position work in front of NFL decision makers. Furthermore, players who weren’t invited to the combine will get an opportunity to showcase their athleticism and how well they perform position-specific drills.

On top of that, teams will start putting together their lists of player they want to bring in for their national visits. Each team gets to bring in 30 players to their facilities so that they can get a better handle on the prospect in every way possible. This is their chance to really get in-depth with their questioning and to find out the answer to all their possible questions.

To go along with that, there will be the medical rechecks in Indianapolis at the beginning of April. For a lot of players, this is the most important date because it is the difference between being drafted or not. Players like Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith will likely have their draft fate decided on this fateful day in Indiana.

About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and