The NFL Combine, one of the most important steps in the draft process, was held this past weekend in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium. Being one of the lucky players invited to the combine gives you an opportunity to showcase your skills and improve your draft stock. Out of the lucky players invited to the combine, five Horned Frogs were in attendance and given a chance to show what they can do. Unfortunately for some of the Horned Frogs, they will need to have a better pro day, after a disappointing showing in Indy. Here is a break down of how each individual did and where they could end up going in the draft.
One TCU player who was generating plenty of draft buzz prior to his poor 40 in Indy, is linebacker Paul Dawson. Ranked as the number one inside linebacker by long time draft evaluator Mike Mayock, Dawson had plenty of momentum going into the combine. After clocking in at 4.90 in the 40-yard dash, Mike Mayock said that he would have to go back and re-evaluate Dawson’s game footage. Now, Dawson did win the Big12 Defensive Player of The Year award and was one of the top linebackers in college. So, I do not believe that what he ran in Indy will hurt his draft stock significantly. However, with reports coming out questioning his character, Dawson could still use a solid pro day to cement his status as a first round draft pick. This is a really talented linebacker that has the instincts and the ability to defend the pass, (four interceptions this past season), that will allow him to be a three down linebacker. Meaning, you would never have to take him off the field in passing downs as he wouldn’t be a liability. All in all, Paul Dawson has the skill set to be a first round pick and his game compares to former frog and Arizona Cardinal linebacker, Daryl Washington. If Dawson should slip out of the first round, then I would expect him to go early in the second round of the draft.
Another player, who was representing the Horned Frogs at the combine, was running back BJ Catalon. The do it all running back went through the drills at the combine and posted a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash. BJ Catalon’s 40-yard dash time rounded out the top 10 fastest times posted from the running back group. While, Catalon is not expected to be a top draft pick or even an early round pick, he still can bring versatility to any offense. With his ability to produce in the passing game, the running game, and special teams, he can fulfill a number of roles that allow his stock to be more valuable. Still, the biggest concern surrounding Catalon, other than his smaller stature, is the concussion issues he dealt with last season. After the hit Catalon took in the West Virginia game, Catalon was never able to play the rest of the season. I still feel like Catalon can make an NFL roster and even contribute on special teams early on. However, his ceiling is limited and he is going to have to prove that he is over the concussion like symptoms. While he will never be an every down back, nor the bell cow of any offense, Catalon’s versatility allows him to contribute and make an impact if given a chance. It would be nice to see Catalon’s future in the NFL blossom into a great career, similar to former Big12 great and Kansas State great Darren Sproles, Both players are not the biggest guys but they can be spread out wide in the slot, make catches out of the back field, and take it to the house on special teams. My guess is that Catalon will hear his name called between rounds five through seven of the NFL draft.
The next offensive player that was in attendance was offensive lineman Tayo Fabulujue. Out of every offensive lineman who chose to run the 40-yard dash at the combine, Tayo came in at number seven of the fastest times. While, the 40-yard dash for an offensive lineman really doesn’t mean much, it can help show the sheer athleticism that some of these big guys have. Tayo Fabulujue is definitely one of the big guys as he was measured at six foot six and weighing 353 pounds. Showing his athleticism in the 40-yard dash and his massive frame in getting his measurements taken, Tayo Fabulujue could see his draft stock rise. Tayo played left tackle this past season and provided a wall that was rarely penetrated by defenders looking to take down Trevone Boykin. There have been comparisons of Tayo Fabuluje to former TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, and I agree with this. This comparison makes sense not because both are former frogs, but both are big-bodied versatile offensive lineman. Marcus Cannon who blocked for Andy Dalton at TCU and now Tom Brady in the pros, is an interchangeable offensive linemen who has played both guard and tackle in his career. Tayo could see himself moved around the offensive line in the NFL before finding his place. Whoever drafts Tayo Fabuluje, somewhere between rounds 4-5, could get a steal as Tayo continues to develop his game to match his massive frame.
Like Paul Dawson, another TCU defender who had problems in running his 40 was safety Chris Hackett. Coming in as the slowest defensive back to participate in the 40-yard dash, with an abysmal time of 4.81, Chris Hackett needs a pro day bounce back. This is still a great safety that has been a ball hawk in his playing days with TCU. In his final season for the Frogs, Hackett had seven interceptions, one big interception to get the game going against Ole Miss. That interception swung the momentum towards the Frogs and it was pedal to the medal from there. If Chris Hackett can improve on his 40 time at TCU’s pro day, then I expect him to go as early as the second round. This safety class has been labeled as shallow and no clear cut safety after Alabama’s Landon Collins. So, Chris Hackett needs to seize his opportunity to establish his name as another top safety in this class. Whoever winds up picking up Chris Hackett is going to get a ball hawking safety that can play centerfield and defend against the deep pass. While, it is very high praise, Chris Hackett reminds me of Earl Thomas. Like Earl Thomas, Hackett has exceptional ball skills and he is very good in creating turnovers in key moments of games.
The Kevin White of TCU has been building draft momentum since he shined at the Senior Bowl. It was at the Senior Bowl that Kevin White demonstrated his abilities that helped lock down projected top 10 pick, wide receiver Kevin White from West Virginia. Unfortunately, TCU’s Kevin White could have performed a little bit better in the 40-yard dash. However, as a whole, the defensive backs were notably slower in the 40-yard dash this year. So, Kevin White’s 40-yard dash time shouldn’t stick with him. What should be able to stick with Kevin White is the film on him. What NFL scouts should be able to see, is a great and smart corner who is similar in his style of play in comparison to Jason Verrett. Like Verrett, NFL teams will want to put White on the slot receiver and line him up as the nickel corner. With more teams using three wide receiver sets and airing the ball out more, the nickel corner has become extremely valuable in today’s NFL. I really believe that Kevin White can have a successful NFL career as a nickel corner and he should hear his name called between rounds 3-4 of the NFL draft.
In wrapping up reviewing the combine, TCU’s Pro Day will be a very important date for all Frogs looking to improve upon on what they did in Indy. TCU’s Pro Day will also provide a first opportunity for defensive tackle Chucky Hunter and safety Sam Carter to make their first impressions. Both Chucky Hunter and Sam Carter were not invited to the NFL Combine, as their invites must have got lost in the mail or something. Whatever happens for all these players moving forward, I wish them nothing but the best in achieving their dreams. What all these players were able to help TCU achieve this season was nothing short of spectacular, and they all deserve a shot in the pros.