By Ray Mencio
There are always numerous players we thought would get an invite to the Combine and every year we’re surprised by some of the guys who got snubbed. This list contains 3 players at every position that you can make a case for being included in the Combine. This does not include players who were excluded for prior off the field incidents.
Marcus McMaryion, Fresno St.
McMaryion improved steadily throughout his career. In 2018, he was at his best. He doesn’t turn the ball over, has good athletic ability (14 rushing touchdowns in his career, 8 in 2018) but doesn’t have the strongest arm. He fits well in West Coast offense. He received an invite to the East-West Shrine game and had a good week of practice but played poorly in the game which likely cost him an invite to the Combine.
David Blough, Purdue
Blough has a ton of experience as a starter. He had a promising freshmen season but followed it up with a subpar sophomore year with 21 interceptions leading the FBS. He only made five starts as a junior and suffered a dislocated ankle against Illinois ending his season. Blough was very efficient in 2018 completing 66% of his passes with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also received an invite to the Shrine Game and was very good all week during practice and was great during the game. He has a good chance to make a team and have a lengthy career as a backup.
Justice Hansen, Arkansas St.
Hansen originally signed with Oklahoma but after his redshirt freshmen year he transferred to Butler Community College. From there he ended up at Arkansas St. Hansen has shown a ton of improvement throughout his career and had his best season in 2018 completing 65.9% of his passes with 27 touchdowns and 9 interceptions and had 411 rushing yards with 6 touchdowns. He was the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 and Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 2018. Hansen has a big arm and good mobility. His throws are effortless and he is an intriguing prospects to develop.
Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh
Darrin Hall had a very good week at the Shrine Game and capped it off with 77 yards rushing on 12 carries during the game. He ended up receiving an invite to the Senior Bowl and arrived there late but still received another opportunity to impress scouts. Hall had a very impressive senior season with 1,144 rushing yards on only 153 carries (7.5 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. Hall has good size, good hands but could use some work in pass protection. He will be draft sometime on Day 3.
Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska
Ozigbo was much more efficient in Scott Frost’s offense than he was under Mike Riley. A big, strong back with very good feet, Ozigbo had 1,082 yards rushing on 155 carries (7.0 yards per attempt) and 23 catches for 203 yards. The Combine could have helped increase his exposure and show of his quickness, especially for his size. A great showing at his Pro Day can help push him into the middle rounds.
Wes Hills, Slippery Rock
Hills was very productive while he was at Delaware and in his last season for the Blue Hens he ran for 728 yards and 7 touchdowns on only 88 carries in 7 games (8.3 yards per carry). He finished his career at Slippery Rock and was dominate. He was named 2nd Team All American after rushing for 1,714 yards and 17 touchdowns on 246 carries (7.0 yards per carry). In 6 of his last 7 games he ran for over 150 yards including 3-200 yard games. He also tacked on 28 catches for 193 yards. After having a great showing at the NFLPA Bowl (10-78-1) he received a late invite to the Senior Bowl where he again had a solid showing. Hills has good size, strength and quickness and is a very intriguing prospect.
Penny Hart, Georgia St.
Hart has had a very interesting career at Georgia St. He has looked dominate at times and seemed to disappear at others. As a freshmen he exploded with 71 catches for 1,099 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was the Sun Belt Freshmen of the Year as well as First Team All Conference. He had an injury plagued sophomore season in which he only would play two halves of football but rebounded in 2017 with dominate year totaling 74 receptions for 1,211 yards and 8 touchdowns. His final season was not nearly as dominate. While Hart is on the small side he does have great quickness and speed. He had a great week of practice at the Senior Bowl so his omission from the Combine is questionable.
Tyron Johnson, Oklahoma St.
Johnson was somewhat of a surprise early entrant into the draft. Johnson, a former 5 star recruit, attended LSU as a freshmen but transferred to Oklahoma St. following the season. He saw limited action in 2017 but was much more productive in 2018 with 53 receptions for 845 yards and 7 touchdowns. There is no denying that Johnson is incredibly talented but in such a deep receiver class it was an interesting choice to leave school. Johnson will need to showcase his skills at his Pro Day to secure a spot on Day 3.
John Ursua, Hawaii
Another incredibly productive yet undersized receiver, Ursua put up some huge numbers at Hawaii. He finished 2018 with 89 receptions for 1,343 yards and 16 touchdowns. As another surprise early entrant, Ursua did not have the opportunity to showcase his talent at an All Star game. A large part of the reason is also do to his advanced age. Ursua will be 25 during the draft as he decided to work for a year out of high school, attend a two year mission trip and then redshirted his freshmen season. He was named First Team All-Mountain West in 2018 just a year removed from a torn ACL that took a large part of 2017. Ursua has a good chance to get drafted late on Day 3 as he is a very shifty receiver who knows how to get open.
Donald Parham, Stetson
This is one of the more disappointing snubs for the 2019 Combine. Donald Parham put up incredibly dominate numbers at the FCS level. He finished 2018 with 85 receptions, 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns in 9 games. In 2017 he played in 10 games and finished with 58 catches for 817 yards and 1 touchdown. Standing at 6’8” and weighing 240 pounds he is an impressive athlete who can create a lot of mismatches in the red zone. He was named an First Team All American by numerous media outlets (Phil Steele, STATS FCS, Athlon Sports and more). Parham was invited to the Senior Bowl (was also invited to NFLPA Bowl but chose the Senior Bowl) and was turning heads with his athleticism. Parham could be the highest drafted player not invited to the Combine.
Matt Sokol, Michigan St.
Sokol has limited upside as a receiver but he is still a good athlete with room to grow. He is a solid blocker but again has some room to grow in that area. He has a big frame and is strong (but can get stronger). Sokol is a complete tight end who would serve well as a backup and could have a long career as a very functional player in the NFL.
Jerome Washington, Rutgers
Washington played one season at Miami before transferring to Rutgers. He started his career with 28 catches for 282 yards and 1 touchdown in 2017. This year he only appeared officially in 7 games (really 5) due to injury and finished with 11 catches for 202 yards. Washington is a player who can continue to develop and improve. He was a 4 star JUCO recruit who has shown glimpses of being a tough player to defend. He is a good blocker who will find himself on a NFL roster or at the minimum a practice squad.
Dan Cooney, San Diego
Cooney has been recognized since he was a sophomore in a variety of ways whether it was as an All American or All Conference player. Cooney should be drafted and has a very good chance to stick on a roster. He has good athletic ability and was a dominate linemen throughout his career. Cooney has played mostly left tackle but can play right tackle and possibly guard.
Justin Skule, Vanderbilt
Skule has gotten overlooked playing in the SEC but has been a very solid contributor on the Commodores offensive line. He started 40 consecutive games with his last two seasons coming at left tackle. He was invited to the East-West Shrine game and was solid during the week. His value could come as a backup offensive linemen capable of playing any position along the offensive line.
Tyree St. Louis, Miami
St. Louis was a highly recruited 4 star offensive linemen out of Florida who choose the Hurricanes over some other highly prestigious programs. St. Louis is another offensive linemen who proved to be reliable and durable starting the last 34 games of his career. He moved to left tackle in 2018 and was an Honorable Mention for the ACC. In the NFL, St. Louis profiles best as a right tackle who can also play guard.
Interior Offensive Line
B.J. Autry, Jacksonville St.
Autry career stared at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas where he was dominate. In 2016 he was the top rated JUCO guard and chose to go to Baylor but would leave in the spring and end up at Jacksonville St. He was named a First Team All American by Phil Steele this past season and earned an invite to the Senior Bowl. Unfortunately, Autry sustained an ankle injury and was unable to play in the game. He is a big man who is incredible strong and has surprising decent agility. If he keeps his weight down he could see a long career ahead in the NFL.
Bunchy Stallings, Kentucky
Stallings is another under the radar SEC offensive linemen. While there is plenty who talk about Jonah Williams and Greg Little, Stallings was also named First Team All-SEC along with both Williams and Little (and Lamont Gaillard). Stallings can play guard or center and has graded out highly in both pass protection and run blocking. While he is not the flashiest of players, he is a very sound and reliable interior offensive linemen who will certainly make a team.
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
Mustipher is on the smaller side and could use an additional 5-10 pounds to help at the point of attack. He has spent the last 3 seasons as Notre Dame’s starting center and was on the Rimington Award Watch list this year. It was interesting that he did not get an invite to an All Star game but he is smart, athletic and can play in the NFL but getting stronger will need to be a priority.
Landis Durham, Texas A&M
Durham became a full time starter in 2017 and over the past two seasons he has totaled 22.5 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks and a total of 106 tackles. He fits ideally as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or a pass rusher specialist in a 4-3. He performed well during the East-West Shrines practices and had a tackle for loss during the game. He has great hand usage and good amount of pass rush moves. He has a low center of gravity which helps move the pocket.
Markus Jones, Angelo St.
Jones was named the DII Defensive Player of the year as well as the Gene Upshaw Award for best defensive linemen in Division II. He finished 2018 with 17.5 sacks and an outstanding 36.5 tackles for loss. In 2017, he totaled 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. Jones is getting better with each season and has an incredibly high ceiling. He looked great during Shrine Week practice and should have received an invite to the Combine.
Derick Roberson, Sam Houston St.
Roberson transferred to Sam Houston St. after spending a redshirt season and his redshirt freshmen season at Texas. He had 2 sacks in limited action. Roberson continued to grow as a pass rusher and by his senior season he had 15 sacks and 20.5 tackles for a loss. He was named a First Team All American by Phil Steele and received an invite to the East-West Shrine game. He had a solid week of practice but at time had trouble with stronger tackles who could get under his pads. He had 4 tackles in the game and looked impressive during game play. He could stand to add 10-15 pounds of muscle and still has some developing to do but has a future in the NFL.
Cortez Broughton, Cincinnati
Broughton had a very solid 2017 season but was an absolute monster in 2018. He had 50 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks and 34 quarterback pressures. He was one of the standouts during the East-West Shrine week. While he is on the smaller side, his quickness and ability to penetrator could cause havoc in the middle of the line. He deserved an invite.
P.J. Johnson, Arizona
Johnson had eligibility remaining after only one season at Arizona but chose to enter the NFL draft so he can provide for his family. Johnson is a very large and imposing defensive tackle. He has very good athleticism and while he put up good stats (31 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks) his ability to take on double teams and allow his teammates to make plays.
Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
Walker had an outstanding career at Virginia Tech. He totaled 30.5 tackles for a loss in his career (22.5 over the last two seasons) and 8 career sacks (6.5 over his final two seasons). He is a short, strong interior defensive linemen who can push the pocket and command double teams. He is an outstanding run defender. He could stand to add some additional weight but his quickness makes up for it. He did participate in the Shrine game but didn’t have the best showing.
Khalil Hodge, Buffalo
Hodge is another highly productive linebacker who is flying under the radar. In 3 season with Buffalo he has totaled 421 tackles (averaging 11 tackles per game), 6.5 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss and 3 interceptions. Hodge has great instincts and is a very smart football player but his athleticism is underrated. He is quick to diagnose plays and get to the ball carry quickly. He was chosen as MAC First team All Conference in 2018 and 2017 and Second team in 2016. Hodge is a very underrated prospect who can fit in numerous systems.
Ulysess Gilbert, Akron
Gilbert had an incredibly productive career at Akron. He was named to All MAC First Team in 2016 and 2017 and All MAC Second Team in 2018. His best season was in 2017 when he finished with 140 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks and 4 passes broken up. Gilbert can play either inside or outside linebacker and can be a great special team’s player. He had a solid week at the Shrine Game and finished the game with 5 tackles and a pass defended. He is a smart, instinctive player who will be a great value.
Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA
UTSA doesn’t receive a lot of national attention which is why linebacker Josiah Tauaefa is not a household name. After an incredible freshmen year that saw him receive Conference USA Freshmen of the Year, Conference USA First Team selection and All American Freshmen team honors. He tallied 115 tackles, 1 interception, 9 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks. In 2017, he was hampered by a MCL injury and only play in 8 games. He rebounded in 2018 and finished with 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. He was named one of the 10 semifinalist for the Butkus Award. 8 of the 10 semifinalist are in the 2019 draft and Tauaefa is the only one not invited to the Combine.
Jimmy Moreland, James Madison
Moreland had a phenomenal senior season earning him First Team All American honors by Phil Steele, an invitation to the East-West Shrine game and performed so well that he received a late invitation to the Senior Bowl. He finished his career with 18 interceptions and 6 returned for touchdowns. He also chipped in for 12 tackles for a loss. Moreland is a little undersized but he makes up for it with elite ball skills and technique. He will be drafted on Day 3.
Nate Brooks, North Texas
Brooks had a very productive season for North Texas with 6 interceptions and 10 passes defended. He had a solid week of practice at the NFLPA Bowl which has produced a fair amount of NFL Players. Brooks has good length and speed and shows good technique. He was Second Team All-Conference. Brooks has a very good chance to be drafted on Day 3.
Kareem Orr, Chattanooga
Orr started his career at Arizona St. where he was named to the Freshmen All American Team in 2015 and set the ASU record with 6 interceptions in that year. In two year at Chattanooga he had 6 tackles for a loss, 14 passes defended and 5 interceptions as well as being named to First Team All Southern Conference. Orr doesn’t have ideal size but he can defense the slot and outside which makes him appealing and he will be an excellent special teams player.
Delvon Randall, Temple
Delvon Randall is a very complete safety who can do a little bit of everything. He has a very high football IQ, can track passes well and has high end ball skills evident by his 12 interceptions over the last three seasons. While he wouldn’t blow up the combine his athleticism is good enough for him to be a very productive NFL player. He is a tough gritty player who will get drafted.
Cameron Glenn, Wake Forest
Glenn is more of a personal favorite. I got a long look at him last year when I was scouting Jessie Bates. In 2017 he totaled 98 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and 7 passes broken up. He had a combined 35 tackles against Clemson, Notre Dame and North Carolina St. He followed it up with another 98 tackle season, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 4 passes broken up. He was named Second Team All ACC in 2018 and didn’t have the opportunity to showcase his ability in an All Star game. He has good speed and very fluid and comfortable playing safety. He can cover running backs and tight ends and can play centerfield if needed. It’s a travesty he didn’t receive more attention throughout this process.
Adarius Pickett, UCLA
Pickett was named Second Team All Pac 12 this past season after a highly productive year. He finished with 123 total tackles, 2 interceptions and 4 passes broken up. He received an invitation to the East-West Shrine game where he had a very impressive week. He has good speed and hits hard. He will be a solid addition and push hard for a roster spot. He is a very good tackler and is exceptional at diagnosing plays and doesn’t get fooled too often. He also projects to be a very good special teams player. He could develop into a starter in the NFL.