Here are three players that were (relatively) unknown to me prior to the combine who I think that Broncos should consider seriously during the draft. All of them showed some really remarkable skills at the combine and caused me to want to dig a little deeper into each to see if they had good on-the-field numbers as well.
Collins had a great combine. He is similar in size and strength to Von Miller. Though not as quick or straight-line fast he did prove to be one of the quicker OLBs at the combine.
40 – 4.64s
bench – 19
vertical – 41.5"
broad - 139" (or 11'7")
20-yd – 4.32
3-cone – 7.10
Here are the combine results for Von
40 – 4.42
bench – 21
vertical – 37
broad – 126"
20-yd – 4.06
3-cone – 6.70
Collins' broad jump was not only the best at the combine this year, but the best in the past decade. His vertical was the second best at the combine for all players - and the picture above shows that it was no fluke. The man has some serious explosive power in his lower body. His overall quickness is not comparable to Von, few are, but his 3-cone was 10th among OLB at the combine and his 20-yard shuttle was 5th. The guy who was first in both of the those drills among LBs will get discussed next.
In terms of on the field production, he finished his college career with 21 sacks, 45 TFL, 15 PBU, 10 QB hurries, 7 forced fumbles and 1 blocked kick. Admittedly CUSA is not the SEC, but he seemed to perform equally well regardless of the competition. Collins was a QB/S in high school. He played his freshman year as a safety and then moved to OLB/DE. He played with his hand in the dirt much of the time at Southern Miss., but he is really too light to play DE in the NFL.
The problem with Collins is that the combine bumped his draft stock up into the second round. The Broncos have two really good 4-3 OLBs right now and Collins would have to learn to play MLB (should we try to move him there) at the NFL level (which is a move that is not recommended unless your are McJedi). The second round is not a place where you want to take a phenomenal athlete that you plan to teach a new position. So the Broncos would only be getting him to stockpile pass-rushing talent - because you can never have too many pass rushers, but he wouldn't have an immediate place to play for the Broncos.
Collins has the physical tools to be star in the NFL. I just think that he would be a luxury pick for us (although Rodney is going to argue this point).
Zavier Gooden, OLB, 6-2, 234 lbs, Missouri
So I just got done telling you that the Broncos don't need another OLB, but Gooden might be able to play the MIKE for us. As I think he played some there during his college career. Gooden arguably had a better combine than Collins. Here are his results
40 - 4.47s
bench - 27
vertical - 34
broad - 131" (10'11")
20-yd - 4.18
3-cone - 6.71
LBs who can run a 4.4 40 are few and few between; there have only been 9 of them at the NFL combine in the past 8 years. Gooden's 40 would have been third among RBs at this year's combine. He's fast, very fast, but he is also strong and quick. His bench was 4th among LBs at the combine. He is explosive. His vertical was 6th and his broad was 2nd (to Collins). His broad jump was the 4th best for any LB at the combine in the past 8 years. (NFL.com only tracks combine results back to 2006). In terms of quickness, his 3-cone time was 13th best at the combine for all players and his 20-yd shuttle was the best of the LBs. It goes without saying that his 3-cone was also the best among LBs. The fastest 3-cone this year was 6.52 (Will Davis, CB, USU).
In terms of on the field production, Gooden was productive, but his numbers are not going to blow you away.
In 49 games
255 career tackles, 5 Ints, 20 TFL, 11 PBU, 4 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 1 FF, 1 Blocked kick
If you go take a look at the profile the KK did on Gooden you will see that he was the team captain and team leader as well as being an outstanding student. So he has all the physical tools and the mental tools needed to make it at the NFL level. As of right now Gooden is still being projected to go in the 3rd. I would be very happy to see us get him there. He seems to be very similar to Mychal Kendricks who went int he second last year after having a great combine (their numbers are eerily similar).
In looking at the top 3-cone times at the combine I stumbled across the next guy.
T.J. Moe, WR, 5-11, 204, Missouri
And before you ask, no, I am not a Missouri fan. Since the Broncos could use a great slot receiver, this guy caught my attention. The key attributes for a great slot reciever are quickness, hands and strength (durability is also nice). Moe has quickness is spades. Here are his combine numbers.
40 - 4.74s (wait wtf?)
bench - 26
vertical - 36"
broad - 120"
20-yd - 3.96
60-yd - 10.87
3-cone - 6.53
Moe ran a horrible 40. When there is a 300 lbs offensive lineman that ran a better 40 than you, you have done poorly. What is confusing is that Moe ran the BEST 20-yd shuttle and 60-yd shuttles at the combine and the 2nd best 3-cone drill. He is definitely quick and can accelerate very easily out of breaks (hence the best 60-yard shuttle). His bench, vertical and broad jump show that he has plenty of power. Here is what NFL.com has to say about his strengths.
STRENGTHS Compact, and solid frame. Works well over the middle, showing the toughness to hold onto the ball after taking a hit. Physical and aggressive route runner. Reliable hands. Good quickness in and out of his breaks.
The knock on him is that he only had on great year of production in college. He was hurt most of his freshman year and his sophomore season was his best. The system and the QB changed during his junior and senior seasons so he got significantly fewer catches during those two years than he did as a sophomore.
2010 - 92 catches, 1045 yards, 6 TDs
2011 - 54 catches, 645 yards, 4 TDs
2012 - 40 catches, 399 yards, 1 TD
His drop off in numbers is why he is only projected to currently go in the 7th round or even go undrafted. He could be a real steal for the Broncos, but I am guessing that he will move up a little with his combine results. He compares very favorably to another slot receiver that you might have heard of - first here at that players pro-day results (he didn't get a combine invite)
5-9, 195 lbs
40 yd - 4.65s
bench - NA
vertical - 30"
broad - 117"
20-yd - 4.01
3-cone - 7.09
That guys name is Wes Welker. He was projected to go 7th or undrafted as well. He turned into a decent slot receiver.
I think any or all of these guys could help the Broncos, but I would most like to see Gooden on our team if I had to pick only one.