2017 NFL Combine: Three Players To Keep An Eye On In Indy

Feb 29, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A general view of Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A general view of Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2017 NFL Combine is here and as the event progresses, which players should the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the NFL be really intrigued by?

Every NFL prospect attending the 2017 NFL Combine is worthy of a draft pick. There are also going to be a number of players that won’t be attending that will be drafted by the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the NFL.

Workouts, position drills, etc. will be at the center of attention very soon. Cleveland has a very young team and with 11 draft picks, it is hard to imagine them keeping all of them. If there is an opportunity to trade up and draft a talented player, then that is a good sign.

Why, you may ask? Rather than trading back more and adding more resources, they would have identified a player that can fit their team and hopefully fill a need.

Evey player at the combine has a lot at stakes. Some have more than others, but one thing is evident and that is these next few days will be their biggest test ever.

With the draft expected to have an early run of defensive players, top offensive players could very easily drop half a round, a round, or more than typically expected. So, with a play-maker acquisition mindset, regardless of position, here are three players to keep an eye on in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Running Back Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

The former Cardinal product is as elusive as it gets. At the NFL level, however what will he be? McCaffrey constantly broke tackles and made one play after another.

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Depending on how the draft goes, there is a chance he could a contender’s selection at the end of the first round. That said, expect him to be off the board in the second round.

In terms of a more logical draft position though, a second round selection makes much more sense. McCaffrey’s impact at the combine could determine teams’ view on him.

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On Sundays, he could be viewed more as a Tavon Austin type of player. Austin, who is a wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, also sees his fair share as a running back and in general a matchup nightmare for certain defenses.

For McCaffrey to succeed, he will need to play in space. Should a team use him like Austin, they will have benefited. On the other hand, if McCaffrey’s carries are the majority up the middle designed runs, he will fail.

McCaffrey should have an impressive 40 yard dash time. As long as he is used as a chess piece, he could be the steal of day two.

Perhaps a trade up in the second or even at 33 for Cleveland? After all, Cleveland just needs players who can make plays and an athlete like McCaffrey could be too tempting to pass up.

Tight End David Njoku, Miami (FL)

We all know about Alabama tight end O.J. Howard and rightfully so. Yet, the one player who could top Howard as the first TE drafted is Njoku. He has a high ceiling and has a similar skill set to that of Washington Redskins’ Jordan Reed.

Njoku’s athleticism is getting overlooked. By the time the combine wraps up, he should start being projected in some mocks higher than Howard. Njoku’s is going to make a name for himself via his ability to be a reliable option in the passing game.

His blocking ability is not bad either, so the Browns would have a nice one-two punch with Gary Barnidge in 2017. A 40-yard dash at around 4.6-4.65 seconds is very possible.

If Cleveland were to go with the best player available approach at 12 (or trade down from 12) or possibly a trade up from 33, is Njoku worth it? To some no, but if he can reach that Reed-like ceiling, then he definitely will be.

Defensive Back Desmond King, Iowa

Last year, King was destined to be a mid-first round pick. Fast forward a year and the first round is not in the cards for the former Hawkeye. Another year of college helps some, while hurts others.

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In King’s case, it was a mixed bag. He did gain more experience and worked to improve his overall game.

Although that was a positive, the additional year also displayed more potential flaws. His overall game is pretty good, and some interpreted flaws may be overblown.

Evaluating what kind of player he was last offseason and now, I came away with a disappointing stance. Last offseason, I envisioned as a second cornerback but that is not the case anymore. There were too many times his technique was off and looked slow.

His 40, cone, and positional drills is going to address any questions teams may have. If some teams don’t like King’s results, they could be interested in him, but not at corner.

Instead, free safety would then be his next best position. With some organizations, King could see time as both a nickel corner and a free safety.

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As far as Cleveland goes, that would be his best role in the short-term as they determine their depth long-term at both FS and CB. If available at 52 in the second round or 65 in the third round, King is deserving of some consideration as a Browns draft pick.