For five former Oregon Ducks, the past few days at the NFL combine in Indianapolis served as a proving ground for their viability as future professional football players. Each of these players endured some combination of workouts, interviews, and tests; an exhaustive battery of assessments that will serve, in part, as the starting point for many NFL scouts and general managers in determining which players are the most alluring and possess the most "draftability." Though many of these players will have another opportunity to workout and perform in front of NFL personnel during pro days held on campus this spring, the past four days were critical in creating a good and long-lasting first impression. Below is DuckTerritory's recap of the performances of the five Oregon representatives at the 2013 NFL combine.
Alonso could work his way all the way in to the second or third round with a big pro day performance.
Kiko Alonso (LB)
6'3", 238 lbs.
Arm length: 32 1/8"
Hands: 9 3/4"
Though Alonso didn't participate in any of the primary combine events (40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, 20-yard shuttle, and 60-yard shuttle) due the wrist injury he suffered during the season, he was a participant in other notable "linebacker specific" drills, including the pass drop and hip rotation drill. This drill specifically tests a linebacker's ability to fluidly change direction and react on the fly, which happened to be two areas where Alonso demonstrated impressive skills and athleticism. The fact Alonso declined to participate in the primary combine events was likely wise, as to not re-aggravate his cumbersome wrist, however this does place additional pressure and emphasis on Alonso's pro day at Oregon later this spring.
Alonso received a draft grade of 67.1 according to NFL.com, which projects him between a fourth and seventh round draft choice in this April's NFL draft. For the time being, that is likely a fair assessment, though perhaps more than any other draft eligible Oregon player, Alonso could see his draft stock skyrocket immensely with an impressive pro day performance. At best, Alonso could go as early as the second round, yet it he is likely no worse than a fourth or fifth round selection in our eyes.
Kenjon Barner (RB)
5'9", 196 lbs.
Arm length: 29 5/8"
Hands: 9 1/8"
Coming off one of the best individual seasons in Oregon history for a running back, Kenjon Barner hopes to transition his on-field success in 2012 to a high draft choice in 2013. At the combine, Barner was considered a top performer at the running back position in three primary combine events: the vertical jump (35.5"), 3 cone drill (6.87), and 60-yard shuttle (11.33), however his official time of 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash left a little to be desire for those who expected him to run faster. Barner will have the opportunity to improve upon that time at the Oregon pro day, but all-in-all, Barner's trip to Indianapolis was a very solid one.
Those expecting Barner to be selected in the second round a la LaMichael James last season will be disappointed, as Barner is expected to go much later in April's draft. Having received a draft grade of 69.35 according to NFL.com, Barner is projected as an early fourth round draft pick based on their grading system. Some draft prognosticators see Barner slipping as far as the sixth or seventh round, though that seems perhaps a little extreme considering his collegiate accomplishments and good showing at the combine. With a big pro day, Barner could solidify himself in the fourth round, however a selection in some time in the fifth round is probably likely.
It's entirely possible that Boyett will go undrafted in April.
John Boyett (SAF)
5'10", 204 lbs.
Arm length: 30 1/2"
Hands: 8 1/2"
Appearing in only one game last season before electing to have season-ending knee surgery on both of his knees, John Boyett will enter this year's NFL draft as one of the biggest enigmas at the safety position. In Indianapolis, Boyett participated in only one combine event, the bench press, which the Napa (Calif.) native churned out 27 reps at 225 pounds, earning him top performer status among all defensive backs. Boyett will have another opportunity to get in front of NFL personnel later this spring at the Oregon pro day, but how much he's able to truly participate remains to be seen.
Boyett's 67.55 grade (4th-7th round projection) following the combine seems a little on the generous side considering he hardly participated and was absent the bulk of last season. If Boyett's knees are healthy enough in time for the Oregon pro day, that could be the opportunity he needs to vault himself in to the draft. If not, it seems highly unlikely that Boyett will be drafted and will instead have to try his luck on the undrafted free agent market. At this time, going undrafted seems like the most likely outcome for Boyett.
Dion Jordan (DE/OLB)
6'6", 248 lbs.
Arm length: 33 7/8"
Of all the participants at the combine this year, it can be argued that Jordan was among the most impressive, regardless of position. Already projected to go somewhere in the first half of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Jordan likely solidified himself as a top 10, if not top five, overall draft pick. At 6'6", 248 lbs., Jordan's gaudy measurables were backed up but gaudy workout numbers and scores. In the five primary combine events in which he participated, Jordan earned top performer acclaim in three of them, posting times of 4.60 and 4.35 in the 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle, respectively, as well as a distance of 10'2" in the standing broad jump. All the more impressive is the fact that Jordan did all of these things while gritting through a torn labrum suffered during the season, which will require surgery later this week.
Jordan's spectacular showing in Indianapolis earned him a 88.0 draft grade according to NFL.com, pegging him as a first round draft choice and "immediate starter" next season. Though recovery from shoulder surgery will have him sidelined for three to months, Jordan says he expects to be healthy in time for training camp this summer. The surgery does mean he'll miss Oregon's pro day, however his tremendous performance at the combine has more or less fortified a place for him in the beginning of the first round. Don't expect Jordan to fall beyond the No. 10 overall pick in April.
Could Long sneak his way in to the first round?
Kyle Long (OL)
6'6", 313 lbs.
Arm length: 33 3/8"
The past year has no doubt been a whirlwind for Kyle Long, who began 2012 enrolled at Saddleback College in Southern California before signing a letter of intent and playing only one -- albeit successful -- season of football at Oregon. Now, Long stands on the precipice of perhaps being a late first round selection after a great showing at the NFL combine. In Indy, Long proved to be one of the more athletic offensive linemen in attendance, posting solid marks in the vertical jump (28.0"), broad jump (8'9"), 3 cone drill (7.83), and 20-yard shuttle (4.63), and earning top performer status in the 40-yard dash with an official time of 4.94.
Already sitting comfortably in the second round, Long could sneak in to the first round with an even finer performance at the Oregon pro day. Long's size, athleticism, and bloodlines are attributes you simply cannot teach, and considering how quickly he was able to pick things up from a mental standpoint in spite of his abbreviated time at Oregon, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see an NFL franchise take that chance to select him at the end of the first round. Working against Long is the fact that the offensive line class in 2013 is extremely deep with talent and experience, however Long has done everything possible to prove he is worthy of serious early round consideration. A late first round selection may be too optimistic, but don't expect Long to fall any further than the middle of the second round.