Each year the NFL Scouting Combine invites hundreds of hopeful NFL prospects, some mainstream, some not so much. And each year the NFL forgets to invite numerous players who will eventually see their phones ring, while invitees sit and wait on their couch. This year is most certainly no different. In looking over the Combine invites, I see glaring omissions. In this article, I will list a top ten of the uninvited. This list is in no order as I don’t believe you can even state a valid case for #1 over #10.
Mario Benavides/OC/Louisville: A 4 year starter and All-Conference performer for Louisville, Benavides also had a strong showing in the NFLPA Bowl All Star game. I personally believed that the struggle of the OC’s in the Senior Bowl would lead talent evaluators to think outside the box and invite players from the other all star games. Benavides has gotten his weight up around 295 pounds, and his bench press around 30 reps. A surgically repaired shoulder will require medical clearance, but Benavides was a glaring omission from Indy.
Mike Catapano/DE/Princeton: A 6’3 270 pound All-Ivy League performer, Catapano had a very strong showing throughout the East/West Shrine week. Displaying the ability to rush the passer and defeat blocks, Catapano still projects as a middle-round draft pick.
Vernon Kearney/CB/Lane: A 6’2 185 pound specimen, Kearney opened eyes in a big way at the Raycom All-Star Classic. Physically and athletically, Kearney matches up with just about any CB prospect in this draft.
Tie: QB’s Jordan Rodgers/Vanderbilt & Greg Jenkins/Alabama State: This is very simple: if you are going to invite Collin Klein or MarQueis Gray to the Combine, you have to have invited these guys as well. Rodgers is a smart, technically sound drop-back passer, whom I believe may be the Tom Brady of this class! Greg Jenkins on the other hand, is a more athletic type with solid passing mechanics, feel in the pocket and loads of upside. At the NFLPA Bowl, coaches tinkered with Jenkins at WR. However, he wasn’t granted a Combine invite.
Jordan Campbell/LB/New Mexico-Highlands: On skill and talent alone, Campbell belongs with the very best prospects in this draft. Campbell is a noted workout warrior who has overcome serious adversity (a 2-time transfer from USC and Louisville) to settle in at NM-H and make a huge impact. Campbell impressed at the NFLPA Bowl last month, and frankly it’s puzzling that scouts did not invite him to Indy for a closer look. Jordan recently pounded out 39 reps of 225 pounds! Check it out here:
Rayon Simmons/RB/Winona State: It’s so hard to pick from among the running backs, but if you base the argument on production, it’s a joke that Rayon Simmons was not invited to the Combine. Simmons dominated his Division, logging ridiculous numbers of 1,845 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. Simmons averaged 5.7 YPC and possesses a stout 5’9 200 pound frame. He would fit right in in Indy.
Ja’Gared Davis/LB/SMU: Everything you look for in a solid ILB prospect- big (6’1 235) , strong, and instinctive- Davis impressed all week in the Texas vs. Nation All Star showcase. It had seemed that Davis had done enough at that juncture to earn an invite to the Combine, but it never came. A steady All-Conference performer whom is more substance than flash, I believe Davis will still be a solid 5th-7th round draft pick and project as possible starting LB down the line.
Duron Harmon/DB/Rutgers: This choice is easy for me. Harmon is a film guy. As in put on the film, and he finds a way to jump off of it. A big hitter with ideal safety size, Harmon brings intelligence and leadership to the safety position. I believe he can develop into a starting safety at the next level.
Orwin Smith/RB/Georgia Tech: A rare starting RB from a BCS Conference program to not to get a Combine invite. Orwin certainly had the statistics to warrant an invite (682 yards and 5 touchdowns in Georgia Tech’s varied Triple Option offense) and has intriguing size at 6’0 200 pounds. This one is a head-scratcher.
Ray Ray Armstrong/CB/Ex-Miami Though he finished his career under suspension at NAIA Faulkner, Armstrong played 3 years for the Miami Hurricanes, where he looked like a budding superstar. However, after being dismissed from Miami in July 2012, his collegiate career fell apart after learning NAIA rules prohibited him from playing. Now, he will miss out on the opportunity to bring his talents to Indy.
Others deserving: Alex Carder/QB/Western Michigan, Benny Cunningham/RB/Middle Tennessee, Robby Toma/WR/Notre Dame, Dalton Hilliard/DB/UCLA, Jordan Roberts/RB/Charleston, Charles James/Charleston Southern, Quentin Hines/RB/Akron, Deon Goggins/DT/Syracuse, B.J. Stewart/TE/Cumberland, Theron Allen Jr./RB/Faulkner, Denodus O’Bryant/RB/Lindenwood, Kayon Swanson/DT/Southern Illinois, William Hollis/LB/Tuskegee, Eric Liles/LB/Dakota State, Ryan Aplin/QB/Arkansas State, Jaz Granderson/DB/Lindenwood, Ken Van Heule/OG/Midwestern State, Patrick Williams/OC/Coastal Carolina, Akeem Wesley/WR/Coastal Carolina, Cody Forbus/OT/Mount Union, Mike Davis/RB/Charleston Southern, Vinnie Rizzo/OG/Akron, Zach Chibane/OG/Syracuse, R.J. Dill/OT/Rutgers, David Nwabuisi/LB/Northwestern, Cammeron Cheathum/DB/Cincinnati, Randy Salmon/DT/New Mexico-Highlands, Philander Browder/WR/Tuskegee, Cornelius Sterling & Isaac McKenzie/LB/Charleston Southern, Adam Lucas/DB/Tuslegee