The Aussie Audible: weekly discussions on the NFL written by Dominic Davies. In this uneasy financial climate, as it is in football, it's good to stay informed of how the market is moving. The combine provides a great opportunity for players to either increase or decrease their value in the eyes of NFL franchises. While a player's true value should always be determined by the tape it's undeniable that a good combine performance can move a player from the second round to the first, or from a top 20 pick to the top 10. Quite a few players both helped and hindered themselves at the combine this year. Let's take a look. At the quarterback position both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III solidified their place as the number one and two picks come April. While Luck and RG3 neglected to throw they both impressed with their athletic ability and smarts. RG3 was expected to blow us away - and did with a 4.41 40 yard dash time - while Luck showed us that it might be fairer to compare him to Aaron Rodgers than Peyton Manning by running a 4.61 40 time. Once more, RG3 had a brilliant series of interviews with coaches and media and his charisma, work-ethic and football knowledge have been highly praised. RG3's position as the number two pick overall is all but assured. Another QB who helped himself was Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden who came into the combine with concerns of his age (28). He left with many NFL teams impressed with his character and professional demeanor (he played in the Minor Leagues before returning to college). Michigan State's Kirk Cousins also greatly improved his draft stock by performing superbly in the throwing drills. A QB who might not have helped himself in the combine is Ryan Tannehill, although understandably absent from most drills due to an injury (foot). Tannehill was one of the few QBs who need to prove that they could compete in the NFL. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="245" caption="Lamar Miller might find himself sneak into the 1st round after a good performance at the combine."][/caption] For the offensive linesmen, while USC's Matt Kalil solidified his 3rd overall pick with a dominating performance Ohio State's Mike Adams damaged his stock immensely by only managing 19 reps on the bench press (in comparison, Kalil managed 30 - a solid number). At WR both Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill improved their stock with good times in the 40 (4.47 and 4.36 respectively). Both players are now being considered as deep-threat receivers (initially Floyd's top end speed was a concern - not anymore), helped by their great size at 6'3 and 6'4. Hurting his chances however was Baylor's Kendall Wright, posting a poor 4.61 in the 40 and struggled with his routs, potentially moving him back behind Floyd as the 3rd receiver taken in April. While RB Trent Richardson's absence neither helped nor hindered his cause, both Miami's Lamar Miller and Oregon's LaMichael James helped themselves with solid 40 times (4.40 and 4.45 respectively). Miller's performance in particular might have earned him a pick in the first round. A RB that has undeniably hurt his value was Mississippi State's Vick Ballard who only ran a poor 4.65 in the 40 and literally stumbled on one attempt. Missouri's TE Michael Egnew should see his stock rise as well after putting up great numbers across more than a few drills. Finally on defense South Carolina's CB Stephon Gilmore raised some eyebrows with a nice 4.40 40 time and Boston College's Luke Kuechly might have bumped himself into the top 10 by being the most impressive linebacker on the day, posting top scores for the majority of drills. LSU product and top corner back Morris Claiborne also solidified his standings with some good numbers. One of the great efforts on the DL came from Memphis' Dontari Poe who posted an outstanding 44 reps in the bench press. Many scouts will be looking at Poe now as a NT suited to taking on the double team. Oh, did I mention he ran the 40 in 4.98? He's 346 lbs. Yeah. Monster: http://youtu.be/hHM-9EW7TQU One defensive player who's stock has surely plummeted is ASU's LB Vontaze Burfict. Burfict came into the combine a potential first-rounder but interviewed poorly and put up some disastrous numbers in drills (a 5.09 40 time - he weighs almost 100 pounds less than Poe!). Burfict's character issues will continue to be a major concern for scouts and NFL teams, potentially even resulting in him going undrafted. Of course, the scouting process is far from other. Most teams will go back to the tape and prepare to see the prospects on their pro-days, during which we'll get to see RG3 and Luck actually throw. For those whose value took a dive during the combine it's their last chance to impress before the draft. For those who impressed its a chance to further build upon the momentum. With the RG3 bidding war now in full swing featuring the Browns, Redskins, Dolphins and one mystery team now throwing both a ton of picks and potentially players into the pot, it's clear the combine may well reflect the fortunes of the players, coaches and entire franchises for years to come.
Point of Interest: Yes, Rich Eisen ran the 40 again. Killed it. Point of Interest 2: One agent of a Top 10 talent reportedly said, "We don't want to go to Cleveland.. they ain't trying to build a winner." when speaking confidentially to Matt Miller. Ouch. Point of Interest 3: Hines Ward is done in Pittsburgh. Guy had a great career. Final Point of Interest: London Fletcher fired his agent - the notorious Drew Rosenhaus - just before free agency. I wonder if more players will dump the aggressive Rosenhaus? The Aussie Audible is a weekly column written by NFLDownUnder’s editor Dominic Davies. Summing up some of the week’s action and news as well as offer some opinion and pointless hyperbole.