Let's start with Zuttah. The Combine's big winner gained only name recognition. Projected to fall to the 5th or 6th round pre-Combine, following a million Googles and nearly as many potboiler press pubs, Zuttah's still projected to fall to the 5th or 6th round. At a Combine where the hosting body, the National Football League, was vehement and vocal that the event was largely irrelevant, that proved to be true. A couple fringe talents were seriously injured, the stars shone, and at event where someone from the pack usually breaks away, no one really did. So, did anything happen? Well, if you read between the lines, sort of. Let's cover these one-by-one in order of the Hawk's positional needs as determined by the Field Gull's readership.
The Big Three and Everyone Else: Mike Mayock chased his folly, insisting that Darren McFadden doesn't deserve a place in the top twenty, while McFadden did nothing but excel at position specific drills and blow the doors of the 40. Still, I don't think Mayock's take is hogwash, he's right, McFadden has a lot to prove after playing in an exceptionally non-traditional college offense, but nearly the same can be said of fellow standout backs Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Stewart. Mendenhall and Stewart both worked out of a Spread Option and both ran alongside quarterbacks with 500+ rushing yards. Despite some silly athleticism, let's cut right through the bullcrap: We're talking about three first round backs that are completely untested working in a pro style offense. The ability to receive a pitch and sweep does not translate to the NFL. I cannot emphasize enough how risky all three backs are.
Behind that much hyped bunch is a wash of backs with equally large questions surrounding them. Kevin Smith, 450 carries. Ray Rice, 380. Matt Forte, 361. Mike Hart, 1,000+ college carries and non-existent receiving numbers. Steve Slaton, wide receiver? Chris Johnson, all hat and no cattle? That's a little oblique, but the thin burner looks like a lesser Reggie Bush, and Bush has been a disaster his first two seasons in the NFL. And not to put too much stock into a back's bench, but Felix Jones 8 reps? 8? Does anyone have None of the Above on speed dial?
Jamaal Charles looks surprisingly pristine. He's got great size, is crazy fast, wasn't run into the ground, has some ability to receive and worked in a reasonably pro-like offense. He has elusiveness through the hole, open field moves and a broad shouldered, long armed frame that could and likely will fill out as he ages. The biggest knock on Charles is that he fumbles. Scouts.com rates him as a 5 star prospect, and all he did at the combine was post a 4.38 40, 4.22 20 Yard Shuttle and a 6.8 3 Cone Drill.
Most years a player of Charles potential would not be available at 25, but in a class with 3 surefire first rounders, Charles might fall into the second round. He's a tantalizing prospect--I could handle watching that for the next five years.