Under the new Raiders regime the Combine isn’t expected to be as important as it was to the team under Al Davis. Davis famously and publicly coveted speed, size and athleticism and felt that he could teach an exceptional athlete to play football.
Raiders second year GM Reggie McKenzie has specifically mentioned that he’s targeting football players, first and foremost. No longer will the Raiders be the bastion for fast but inconsistent football players.
So, the Combine will not carry the weight that it did under Davis, that much is clear. Football players don’t start or stop being football players at the Combine. The best it can do is clarify what each player can bring to the table athletically.
The Combine did help bring some clarity to positions the Raiders may target – at defensive end for example – where some players really stood out.
Coming into the Combine there were 5 Defensive Ends all vying for being named the top spot, named alphabetically: Ezekial Ansah, Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, Damontre Moore and Bjoern Werner.
All 5 young men came to the Combine and all at least ran the 40 yard dash. The 40 yard dash is vastly overrated for a defensive lineman – if you’re defensive end or tackle is running full speed for 40 yards more than once a season your team is probably not making the playoffs – but the first 10 yards, called the 10 yard split – is a good indicator for defensive ends because it measures how fast they get out of their stance and explode down the field.
Of the five mentioned 3 players set themselves apart in the 10 yard split – Ansah, Jordan and Mingo. The three had almost the exact same time in fact, separated by only a couple of hundreths of a second (i.e. not statistically significant).
We’ll start with Ansah who is mentioned by many writers as starting to climb draft boards after putting up impressive numbers. He measured in at a very solid 6’5” 271 lbs and boasted an impressive 35.18 arm length. Arm length is important to create space when you need it. Ansah had the second best 10 yard split of the three, running 10 yards in 1.56 seconds. He also benched 225 lbs a respectable 21 times.
Barkevious Mingo, a 4-3 DE like Ansah, was the fastest of the 3 – not surprising to anyone who’s watched him play. Mingo has good burst and is probably the best pass rushing DE in the draft. He measured in at 6’4” 241 pounds and had his arm length come in at 33.68 inches. His 1.55 10 split time was the fastest of the defensive linemen in the Comine.
Finally, OLB/DE Dion Jordan, at 6’6” and 248 lbs, ran an impressive 1.57 10 yard split. Jordan is more of a hybrid player – having played in multiple positions at Oregon including covering slot receivers so his speed isn’t a surprise but it’s validation for him.
Of the 5, Damontre Moore had by far the worst combine. In fact, he may have had one of the worst in general. He came in still being mentioned as one of the top Ends but he ran a disappointing 1.69 in the 10 yard split and he was able to only put bench press the 225 pound weights 12 times, the worst among all defensive linemen. This calls into question both is speed and upper body strength and likely means he will fall some come draft day.
The Raiders may also be in the market for a Defensive Tackle but they didn’t get much clarity, there. One of the top prospects, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, didn’t participate in drills after doctors discovered he had what may be a heart condition.
The Raiders are looking at all of their options and not being able to get info on Star means that the Raiders will have to wait until the pro days to get further answers.