1 - NFL combine medical re-check big for rehabbing prospectsFor most who follow the pre-draft happenings the situation for Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith and West Virginia S Karl Joseph is all too familiar. Smith is recovering from a catastrophic knee injury in the Irish's Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State. Joseph, meanwhile, saw his 2015 season cut short by an ACL injury.
Smith was seen as a lock top 10 pick and Joseph was a borderline first-round prospect, but their injuries have compromised their draft grades. That's why the NFL combine medical re-checks (April 14th & 15th) for such players will be critical for them later this week in Indianapolis.
UCLA LB Myles Jack and Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller are two other players with knee injuries, whose re-check exams will be under much scrutiny. According to WalterFootball.com there is a wide range of opinions on whether Mack, who has been cleared to play, should get more surgery for his knee or play until further surgery is required. It's a pretty important opinion that club physicians will be submitting to their scouting departments for a player seen as a top 10 prospect.
Fuller has a timeline that's prevented him from doing any kind of pre-draft testing for any team. He's hoping to be ready by the time NFL training camps commence, but the medical re-check will provide clubs with an update as to how realistic that timeframe might be.
2 – McShay goes all defense for Bills in 3-round mockIn a bit of a twist ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay played general manager for all 32 teams in a three-round mock draft. Not surprisingly, his three picks for the Bills were all on the defensive side of the ball. Here were his selections and analysis.
Analysis: I tried to get Buffalo an edge rusher in Round 1, but there wasn't great value available but they time it was their turn to pick. I went with Ragland instead, who would help improve a Bills defense that allowed 4.4 yards per carry last season (25th overall). He was a tone-setter in the middle of Alabama's championship defense last season, and he has the toughness to excel as a downhill linebacker. Ragland would be a good fit with Bullard, who makes a ton of effort plays on tape. The Florida product would also be a moveable piece along the D-line for Rex Ryan, having played both inside and outside in college.
3 – Sleeper safetyThere are some quality safeties in the 2016 NFL draft class, and there are some prospects who are far from household names. One with a pretty impressive skill set is Middle Tennessee State's Kevin Byard. The 5-11, 212-pound safety was a four-year starter for the Raiders and had an impressive 19 interceptions in his college career, including an impressive one this past season against Alabama.
A vocal leader, Byard is a cerebral player who doesn't bit on play action and is a sure tackler due to sound break down technique. After a strong week at the Senior Bowl, Byard only helped himself with a solid pro day where he was timed anywhere from 4.46 to 4.51 in the 40. He also had a 38-inch vertical and a 6.73-second three cone drill.
He's widely forecast to be an early day three pick.