For me, the best part about the month of February has never been the Super Bowl, and frankly, that is because the Detroit Lions have never been a part of it. The month of February is all about the NFL combine, which is happening this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I guess I can't complain why the Colts always get to host the combine, not as long as we have the Thanksgiving Day game, that is.
I admit it. I love the NFL combine. I love watching offensive linemen run the 40-yard dash and seeing the wide receivers do their gauntlet drills. There is nothing better than watching defensive backs back peddle their way up the draft board.
I don't watch the combine for Cam Newton, A.J. Green and Nate Solder. I know their names, and I have seen them play. I watch the combine for all of those other guys. The guys who have one last chance to prove themselves worthy of a higher draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft in April.
So after the first few days, I have seen a couple guys I wouldn't mind seeing the Lions take a chance on in the later rounds. Now, bear in mind, I have only seen the offensive line, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks take part in drills so far, so this is only a partial list of no-names from this year's combine. Maybe I'll get around to a part two in a few days after the combine is complete.
I think the most impressive no-name player I have seen so far is Ryan Bartholomew, a center from Syracuse University. At 6'1" and 302 lbs. Bartholomew is a compact rock of a man. And before all of you undersized center-haters get going, this guy is no Dominic Raiola.
Bartholomew benched 225 a position high 34 times. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds. Not only is he strong, but he is fast too. He packs a powerful punch and has quick feet as well. He will surely climb in a bunch of teams' draft rankings, as he seems to be a great project with tons of potential and upside. Kind of like Sammie Lee Hill a few years back.
Another player who caught my eye this weekend was small college wide receiver Ricardo Lockette from Fort Valley State University. The only reason I include Lockette as someone to watch is for his physical attributes.
While Lockette does have good hands, he needs a lot of coaching work with his routes and breaks. However, he measured in this weekend at 6'2" and 211 lbs. and ran the forty in 4.35 seconds. That is a great base of talent on which to build.
By all accounts, Lockette is a fiery competitor who works hard and tries to get better. The Lions need a deep threat to go opposite Calvin Johnson, and while he may not be game-ready just yet, Lockette could be a future star in the making, especially if his work ethic continues.
So those are the two players that have caught my attention so far. They could be great late-round pick ups if their respective positions have not yet been addressed.
What do you think? Who has caught your eye so far?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!