The NFL Combine is over and the three Huskies who participated — Jake Locker, Mason Foster and Nate Williams — now move on to the next phase of their preparation for the NFL Draft April 28-30.
Each will likely take part in individual workouts with teams, as well as UW’s Pro Day on March 30.
There are always varying interpretations of how a performance at something like the Combine impacted a player’s draft status. But I’ve often turned to NFLDraftScout.com analyst Rob Rang for his thoughts (for one, he’s a local guy) so I thought I would turn to him again for a post-Combine assessment of each player.
LOCKER: Rang said he thinks Locker helped himself at the Combine mostly with what he said was a “pretty solid performance” during the throwing session, particularly in that he “made his most accurate throws on the most difficult throws that the scouts want him to make, those being the deep outs, the fade and the deep ball, the postcornter routes. Those were also the final three throws, so it was like he was building momentum as the practice went on.”
But Rang said that what scouts most question about Locker is his consistency. “I think if he wants to take the next step and potentially lock in a first-round grade, then I think he has to throw at the Pro Day, and if he is successful there, then he can potentially lock up that first-round grade,” he said.
He said scouts, while impressed by what Locker did at the Combine, will also continue to look at film of his UW career when Locker had more erratic outings and will want to be convinced that he can make the tough throws consistently.
“The belief out there is that he has this talent and if you can just harness it then he could be a special player,” Rang said. “So I think teams are looking for an excuse almost to believe that he is harnassing it, and that is the gamble with Jake that we’ve been waiting to see that talent get harnessed virtually his entire career and it never really truly has been.”
Rang said Locker’s 40 times and performances in other such drills won’t have much of an impact either way.
“Everybody knows Jake is athletic, so that isn’t going to help him or hurt him,” Rang said. “What I think helped him is the throwing session itself.”
FOSTER: Rang says he thinks Foster’s overall performance at the Combine was met with mixed reaction and that he’s “in the fourth-round range with a chance to slip into the third round because this is a pretty weak class of linebackeres.”
Foster ran an official 4.75 in the 40 which Rang said is “not bad, but you’d love for it to be a little bit better, especially if he’s going to remain on the weak side” where he would be more responsible for playing in space and coverage.
He also noted that Foster’s vertical leap of 31 inches “was pretty low.” He said scouts look at the vertical number as “a great indicator of explosiveness.”
Rang compared it to Donald Butler’s performance at the Combine in 2010 when Butler had a 35.5-inch vertical leap (the kind of thing that helped move Butler steadily up draft lists a year ago when he emerged as a second-rounder).
Rang says “I think he’s a better football player than an athlete” and the hope for Foster will be that scouts remember most his production on the field last season.
WILLIAMS: Williams ran an official 4.71 at the Combine, compared to a 4.53 for the fastest player in his group (Jeron Johnson of Boise State), which Rang said didn’t help his case. “I talked to a couple of scouts and it just kind of confirmed what we’ve seen on tape that he’s a good open-field tackler, a good run defending safety, who is going to struggle in pass coverage,” Rang said. Williams remains regarded as a late-round pick at the optimum.
He said Williams could make a team as a special teams player and a player who could help in run defense but that his speed could mean that he would be regarded as having limitations in pass coverage.