The NFL Combine wrapped up this week and the impact on the mock drafts and predictions around the league is already being felt.
While some players merely solidified their standing on big boards and mock drafts, several others saw their Combine results either boost or drop their placing in the mind of scouts and general managers across the league.
Some notes from the NFL Combine
A look at the most recent batch of mock drafts has two players showing up more often than any others at the top spot. One won't surprise you – South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney – but one certainly could – UCF quarterback Blake Bortles.
While questions about his work ethic may knock Clowney out of the top spot, his blistering 40-yard dash time (4.53) ensures that if he does fall, it won't be very far.
Bortles meanwhile impressed both on the field and off. Almost all draftniks and experts consider the once unknown QB to be a legit top end prospect. Of the 15 expert mock drafts gathered for TSN.ca's database, Bortles had the most first overall picks of any player.
While mock drafters are slotting Bortles into the first pick (owned by the Houston Texans) more than any other quarterback, that doesn't necessarily mean he's viewed as the top quarterback. Of the 15 expert mock drafts culled by TSN.ca, Bortles had just the third highest average draft position.
First was Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel with an ADP of 3.1 followed by Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (3.9) and then Bortles at 4.7.
Don't Forget Me
While he's not in the same boat as Manziel, Bridgewater, or Bortles, Fresno State's Derek Carr reportedly had a very strong NFL Combine showing, particularly while interviewing with teams.
At this point Carr appears to be a mid-first round pick at best but his showing has some quarterback-needy teams considering passing on one of the top three QBs early in the draft to fill other positions, while hoping to land Carr later on. There are reports the gap between the Big Three and Carr is not very wide.
The biggest benefactors of the NFL Combine, among the early picks at least, were Auburn OT Greg Robinson and Buffalo LB Khalil Mack. Robinson's athleticism seems to have solidified him as the top offensive tackle on the board and boosted his projected status from Top 10 pick to Top 5. Robinson could even hear his name as early as second overall to the St. Louis Rams.
Mack is another former potential Top 10 pick that could easily find his way into the Top 5 come May. While his destination is hard to pinpoint at this point in the evaluation process, respected NFL Network draftnik Mike Mayock said he would consider Mack with the first overall pick. That's high praise!
The rise of Robinson and Mack is having adverse effects on players of similar talent at the same position of the two in Jake Matthews and Anthony Barr.
Once considered two of the top three players in the draft (alongside Clowney) by some, Matthews and Barr are no longer locks to be Top 5 picks and that's in large part due to Robinson proving he's the better offensive tackle, and Mack proving he's far closer to Clowney than originally thought.
At this point it wouldn't be shocking to see Barr fall out of the Top 10 picks (ADP currently 8.9) while even Matthews could see himself suffer the same fate (ADP currently 5.9) the way things are playing out.
To be fair, in Barr's case, Mack isn't the sole reason the UCLA pass rusher's stock is falling; only 15 reps on the bench press could scare away a few teams.
Lions targeting a CB
The Detroit Lions need help at cornerback and most draftniks expect them to get it at the draft. Of the expert mock drafts culled by TSN.ca, 86% of them have the Lions taking a cornerback 10th overall. The only question in their minds is if it will be Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert, taken by the Lions in 53% of mock drafts, or Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, taken by Detroit in 33% of mock drafts.
The current draft landscape lays out with a slight drop off after the top nine players. From there it's still anyone's guess as to who leads the second tier of players. Many mock drafters see the Lions filling a need and taking whichever cornerback they have ranked the highest.
Wide Receiver Battle
This position battle is unlike the quarterback battle as Clemson standout Sammy Watkins is the clear cut top pass catcher in this year's draft.
The battle is for the second best receiver with USC's Marqise Lee losing his spot to Texas A&M's Mike Evans in 80% of mock drafts gathered.
The receiver class is very deep this year with good pass catchers still likely to be available midway through the second round and if Lee finds himself engulfed in the second tier of receivers, he's no lock to hear his name on the first day of the NFL Draft.
The true battle could be between Evans and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron. The difference between their ADP is currently only a couple of picks (Evans: 13.8 to Ebron:16.0).