The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is set to start on Thursday. There are a number of prospects to watch especially from the perspective of the San Francisco 49ers. Mike Mayock, a draft analyst for the NFL Network recently had his annual conference call to preview the combine. He spoke about a few of the players that he will be looking forward to seeing workout this weekend.
Mayock said that this is the best draft class that he has seen in the last ten years. He also said that this draft is deepest at wide receiver and corner back. Both of these positions are areas of need for the 49ers. Let’s take a look at a few of the prospects that 49ers fans should keep their eyes on.
Quarterbacks: Of course the starting position is locked down by Colin Kaepernick but Colt McCoy was the backup last year and is expected to move on via free agency. The 49ers will probably sign a veteran to be a backup but there may be some options in the draft as well.
Tajh Boyd – One of the more important things for Boyd will be the weigh in. There have been some questions about his height. Boyd showed himself to be a pretty mobile threat so he should run well in Indianapolis. Most importantly, scouts will want to see how well he throws.
Jimmy Garoppolo – The biggest asset Garoppolo has is his ability to reset his feet and make throws on the run. He has a decent arm and his footwork is very sound. Watch how he does in drills in which he is able to roll out and make throws to set targets. This will be an area where he will standout.
Logan Thomas – He will wow everyone at the weigh ins. I saw his 6-6 250 pound frame firsthand and it’s hard not to marvel at this specimen. Thomas has a big arm but will need to show that his work with acclaimed QB coach George Whitfield has helped improve his accuracy.
Running Backs: Running back is not truly an area of need because the 49ers already have Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Lamichael James and Marcus Lattimore on the roster. Gore is expected to return but with a lesser cap number.
Dri Archer – This small dynamo could run the fastest time at the combine. He has been linked to the 49ers as a late option that would be of use in the return game.
Terrance West – West is a small school running back that produced in a major way. Last year alone he had 2,509 yards rushing and scored 43 touchdowns. If you watch him play, you will see that he is similar to Gore. Watch as he surprises scouts with his catching ability and at 5-11 223 pounds he will run well.
Tight End: Vance McDonald was brought in to be productive in 12 personnel sets for the 49ers. He had a tough rookie season but should be more productive this year.
Jace Amaro – Amaro is a big Jimmy Graham like slot tight end option. Watch how he runs the forty. Be sure to see what his vertical is and pay close attention to him in the gauntlet drill which measures his catching ability.
Troy Niklas – Niklas is said to be one of the best blocking tight ends in this draft. Watch how he does on the bench and in the field drills when he is called upon to show his drive blocking ability.
Offensive Line/Center: The 49ers are likely to lose their starting center in Jonathan Goodwin. If Dan Kilgore inherits the position, the 49ers will need to look for another swing lineman.
Cyril Richardson – This is a big, mauling guard. Watch his footwork in the field drills and check out how he does on the bench.
Weston Richburg – This is a potential starter at center. Watch Richburg run through the drills that show the ability to pull and make blocks. The bench press is always important to centers as well.
Bryan Stork – Stork will need to show that he is strong on the bench press. He should be able to wow scouts on the chalkboard as well. His athleticism should cause him to stand out in the field drills.
Wide Receivers: This is a position of need for the 49ers. They need to add a big red zone threat along with one with deep speed.
Davante Adams – There is some question as to his timed speed and if he can run away from defenders. The short shuttle and three cone drill will show if he measures well when it comes to quickness.
Kelvin Benjamin – Benjamin is a big red zone option. Watch how he does at the combine. His forty time will be very influential on his draft status. Also be sure to check out how he runs his routes.
Martavis Bryant: Bryant is the rare prospect that has the size. He has elite jumping ability and has the top level speed that will be needed to stretch the field. Some have said that he will time in the 4.38 – 4.44 range.
Brandin Cooks – Cooks is a speed demon and it shows on film. He also has the potential to stretch defenses. As a smaller receiver, it will be important to show that he is strong. Watch to see how many reps of 225 pounds Cooks gets. He has said that he expects to out due his teammate Markus Wheaton’s 20 reps last year. Cooks also told me that he expects to run in the 4.3 range.
Mike Evans – Take a look at what height and weight he measures in at. Evans could make himself a lot of money if he can run fast this weekend. He should also test well in the vertical and broad jump.
The above mentioned players are just a few of the many that will looking to show their skills. The 49ers have 12 selections in this draft and can be a major player in this draft. I will be on hand at the combine from Sunday, February 23rd. If you want any live updates, please be sure to follow me on twitter @TDavenport_BSN.