(CBS Local/CBS Chicago)- NFL hopefuls descend upon Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, which has now moved its drills into prime-time starting on Thursday night.
While the Combine is more about seeing how healthy players are medically and trying to figure out their personalities, the drill portion gets the majority of the spotlight because it's always fun to see how fast, explosive and strong these players are. A few players, almost without fail, will see their stock take off following their stay in Indy. One of those players could be Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
While LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (pending health) have separated themselves as the two best QBs in the class, CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Chris Trapasso believes Love's athletic ability could leave an impression in a Combine setting.
"Jordan Love has some stylistic comparison to Patrick Mahomes. He can make some crazy throws on the run, has a very strong arm. I think the throwing session is going to be really good for him," said Trapasso in an interview with CBS Local's Katie Johnston. "He did not really have a great final season at Utah State, but the athleticism, the arm talent, and just the ability to flick the football from any platform. I think Jordan Love is a guy people are going to be talking about, consensus rising up draft boards after the combine."
Love's junior season is what originally placed him on draft boards, as he threw for 3,567 yards and 32 touchdowns with just six interceptions in 2018. After losing several key offensive contributors around him, Love took a step back this past season, throwing 20 touchdowns against 17 picks. That discrepancy will be an interview question for sure, though Trapasso points out that the loss of talent around him is a key factor.
While Love is likely to be among the standouts on offense, Trapasso actually has his eyes on two defensive players that he thinks could impress in a big way at the positional drills and in traditional testing.
One is Boise State defensive lineman Curtis Weaver. The junior edge rusher was highly productive in his three-year career with the Broncos, piling up 34 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss. But, he suffered an injury in November that seemed to nag him down the stretch of the season, knocking him out of the national consciousness. Now, fully healthy, Trapasso believes Weaver will impress in Indy and says "after the combine, we'll be talking about him as a lock first-round pick."
The other player Trapasso has his eyes on is Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, who is likely to put on a show in the 40, vertical jump and broad jump.
"He started at wide receiver, and he has the blood lines. His mom was a bronze medalist sprinter in the 1992 Olympics. He flipped over to cornerback at Auburn, and his film is special. He can really change directions and is very fast down the field," said Trapasso. "He is kind of off the first-round radar now. But, I think he is going to run well, broad jump, vertical jump, the entire combine is going to be good to him, and he will move on the first-round radar after the combine."
Igbinoghene won six state titles in track at the high school level, and its fair to say his athleticism has likely only improved since then. In case you want to be by your television when he's testing, you'll have to wait until Sunday, March 1st, when the defensive backs do their on-field testing.
All of the guys mentioned above are likely to make some waves with their Combine performances, but there are always a few players who slip under the radar because they aren't the most impressive-testing athletes. And yet, those players can come in and make an impact on Day 1 for an NFL team. On that front, there are a pair of players, one on offense and one on defense, that Trapasso wants people to pay attention to.
"Instant impact guy at the wide receiver position is Bryan Edwards from South Carolina. I don't think he is the fastest guy in this really loaded wide receiver class, but has four years of quality, consistent production at South Carolina in the SEC," said Trapasso. "He just does everything well. He knows how to get open, has a huge catch radius, his run after the catch skills are really impressive for a bigger wide receiver. He will be outside of the top 10 in the 40-yard dash, the vertical, the three-cone drill, but he's ready to be a contributor in the NFL right now."
"On the defensive side, Bradlee Anae, the edge rusher from Utah, just easy to see he's not super explosive around the corner. But, his arsenal of pass-rushing moves are arguably the best in the entire class, up there with Chase Young from Ohio State," Trapasso continued. "He's not going to test well, that could push him down in the draft. But, don't be surprised when Bradlee Anae from Utah ends up coming in and being an impact rookie on the defensive line."
The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine begins with on-field drills on Thursday, February 27th when tight ends, wide receivers and quarterbacks take the field for on field drills. For the full schedule, you can check out the NFL's website here.
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