NFL Draft Combine 2016 Day 1: Important Medical Exams and Interviews to Watch ForBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
The first day of the NFL Draft Combine is upon us, and though the primary activities may seem tedious and unexciting, it is an important day for numerous prospects.
One of the first things college football prospects are graded on is their health, which an evaluator could argue is the most important measurable. Also taking place on the first full day of the combine will be interviews for offensive linemen, running backs, and special teams players, according to NFL.com.
Dr. Matt Matava, president of the NFL Physicians Society, told Bleacher Report in 2014 the medical evaluations entail testing for just about everything. In addition to the usual head-shoulders-knees-and-toes routine, prospects will have their blood drawn and their hearts, kidneys, and liver tested.
Medical exams worth watching:
1. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (knee): Rather than continuing to take classes while he sat out what would be his final football season anyway, Jack chose to leave school to focus on rehabbing his knee and preparing for the NFL Draft. A potential Top-10 pick, the health of his knee will be huge for NFL scouts.
2. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (torn ACL, MCL): Even though he sustained his injury just last month, Smith is still projected as a first-round selection. Still, NFL teams interested in him are likely itching to see how he is doing post-surgery.
3. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (ankle): Here is another case of a high-ceiling player with a severe, relatively recent injury. Teams are probably anxious to know how his broken ankle is doing, but even a moderate outlook could cement him as a late selection in the first round.
4. Rees Odhiambo, G, Boise State (ankle): Recurring or multiple injuries are usually red flags for NFL scouts. Odhiambo could be a second- or third-rounder, but the team that takes him will need to clear some hurdles to get there. First, a broken ankle is especially tough on big, heavy linemen; second, he missed multiple games in multiple seasons; and third, he is switching from left tackle to guard.
Interviews are important too!
Peter King wrote for his Monday Morning Quarterback column that the Tennessee Titans are all but sold on Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil as the first overall selection. Being such a high regarded prospect for his skill and also having a clean bill of health will likely alleviate pressure when it comes time for him to run drills, but he will be grilled during interviews.
Sure, the NCAA investigated allegations he took impermissible benefits from NFL agents before leaving Ole Miss, though evaluators probably will not press him on that. NFL teams, the Titans in particular, will be more interested in seeing how he addresses the domestic dispute he was allegedly involved in with his stepfather.
There are a few other highly regarded left tackles, and the Titans could trade down and pick, say, Ronnie Staley or Jack Conklin, but Tunsil could cement his stellar draft stock with positive reviews about his interviews.