NFL Scouting Combine: Day 4 observations

Indianapolis – On Day 4 of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine the media had the opportunity to meet with defensive linemen and linebackers. The wide receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks all worked out as well on Saturday.

Here are three observations from Day 4 of the combine.

Trio of Badgers

Former Wisconsin linebackers Jack Cichy, Leon Jacobs, and Garret Dooley met with the media on Saturday in Indianapolis. All three were seated at the same table inside the convention center.

The trio also took part in the bench press prior to meeting with the media. Jacobs was the most impressive of the three with 26 reps. Dooley and Cichy trailed behind him with 21 and 18 reps, respectively.

All three are excited to be taking part in the combine, as everyone knows.

“Just being a part of it, I’m definitely blessed,” Dooley said. “To be able to come here and just kind of showcase my skills and my personality is definitely an honor.”

The combine is obviously a huge event for everyone involved, but it might mean the most for Cichy. He missed part of his redshirt junior season with a torn pectoral. Cichy then tore the ACL in his right knee during fall camp causing him to miss the entire 2017 season.

“Honestly, just being to get myself back out there and show what I know,” Cichy said was his favorite part of the combine. “Throughout these years with all the coordinators we’ve had [at Wisconsin] I’ve been able to accrue a lot of good football information and I think I’ve been able to be pretty football savvy. In those interviews, just kind of being able to express that and show teams how I’ve grown in that aspect has been awesome.”

Jacobs was expected to test the best of three. He put up the best number on the bench press and expects to run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash on Sunday.

Both Jacobs and Dooley did say that they have informally met with the Green Bay Packers, Cichy has not.

It is worth noting that Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli did not take part in the on-field workout Saturday.

Wide receivers test on the field

When the wide receivers met with the media on Friday afternoon it seemed as if the Green Bay Packers had met with many of the top prospects in the class. On Saturday those prospects took part the on-field workout portion of the combine.

Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley is regarded as the best in the class. He posted one of the faster 40-yard dash times of the day at 4.43 seconds. Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore was the fastest of the receivers that said he had met with the Packers. He clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash. Moore also had the second-highest vertical jump at 39.5”.

Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown may be the prospect that improved his stock the most with the on-field testing. After measuring nearly 6-foot-5 and 214lbs he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash. St. Brown also did well in the bench press on Friday, posting 20 reps.

With the Packers having visited with a number of receivers this week, today could certainly further their interest a few guys. With Moore and St. Brown testing well, it could encourage the Packers to give them a more serious look should Ridley be picked before Green Bay drafts at No. 14 overall.

Shaquem Griffin

The story of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin has been told relatively frequently over the past few months. Griffin was both with a disorder called amniotic band syndrome that affected his left hand and caused his fingers to not develop fully.

At the age of four Griffin was caught by his mother in the kitchen with a knife trying to self-amputate his fingers. The family then scheduled an appointment and his hand was amputated the following day.

That didn’t stop Griffin from playing college football at a high level, earning the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and being named a Second-team All-American in 2017.

He did enough to earn an invitation to the combine and has unquestionably the best story of anyone in Indianapolis.

Griffin put on a show Saturday afternoon with his performance of 20 reps on the bench press with the help of a prosthetic device that he is able to put on his left wrist in order to grasp the barbell.

“So many people are going to have doubt on things about what I can do,” Griffin said when talking with the media Saturday evening. “Obviously it started at the bench press. Some people didn’t think I could do three, some people didn’t think I could do five, some people didn’t even think I could do the bench press. I went and did the bench press and competed with everybody else and did 20 [reps]. That’s just one step closer to everything that I need to be able to accomplish.”

Despite the outstanding play on the field, there are plenty of questions about him due to his deformity. The fact that he’s competing at the highest level is inspirational to many as it should be.

“I hope I inspire a lot [of people]. I always told everybody, if I can inspire one [person] they can inspire one more and I can inspire a thousand later. If I keep doing what I’m doing now then I can change a lot of minds of a lot of people and be able to inspire more kids every day.”

Wisconsin sends six to NFL Combine

The invitations to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. have been officially sent out and six players from Wisconsin will be in attendance.

Linebackers Leon Jacobs and Garret Dooley, and defensive backs Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson will represent one of the best defenses in the country from the 2017 season. Tight end Troy Fumagalli is the only offensive player from Wisconsin that will be in attendance.

Linebacker Jack Cichy, who missed the entire 2017 season after tearing his ACL in preseason camp, was the sixth invitee from Wisconsin.

Jacobs, Dooley, Jamerson, and Nelson were key cogs in a defensive unit that was second in the FBS in total yards per game allowed (262.1 ypg) and third in points per game (13.9 ppg). Alabama was the country’s leader in both categories.

Fumagalli was the team’s leading receiver with 46 catches on the season for 547 yards and four touchdowns. He began his career at Wisconsin as a walk-on and finished with 135 catches for 1,627 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.

In the first seven-round mock draft from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, four of the six Badgers were selected, with Nelson being the highest selection in the third-round to the Minnesota Vikings. Fumagalli, Cichy, and Dooley were the other Badgers taken in that mock draft, with Jamerson and Jacobs going undrafted.

A full list of the invitees to the 2018 NFL Combine can be found here.

Grading the Badgers: Linebackers

During the 2017 season Wisconsin’s defense allowed only 92.6 yards per game. A big reason for that was the play of the linebackers.

The position group received contributions from numerous players this season. T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly, Garret Dooley, and Leon Jacobs were the leaders while Chris Orr and Andrew Van Ginkel all contributed when their numbers were called. Edwards, Dooley, Connelly, and Jacobs all received some type of All-Big Ten recognition, with Edwards being recognized as an All-American as well.

Connelly was the team leader in tackles with 80 in total, as well as 3.0 sacks. Edwards was behind him with 75 stops, 2.0 sacks, and also was tied for the team lead with four interceptions, including one of them returned for a touchdown. He added in seven passes defended as well.

Jacobs, Dooley, and Van Ginkel were behind those two in terms of tackles, but were able to find the quarterback more often. The trio combined for 15 sacks on the season, including a team high 6.0 from Dooley. Orr also was able to find the quarterback for sacks on three occasions, despite missing four games on the season.

All of the honors that this group received were well deserved. The 92.6 yards rushing per game allowed was the lowest among FBS schools in the country. Wisconsin allowed 3.0 yards per carry as well, which ranked tied for sixth.

Linebackers are often thought of as the leaders of the defense, and it’s hard to argue that with this group. The Badgers got fantastic play from this group all year, no matter which players were in.

The game against Ohio State is obviously the black eye on this group, as it was the entire defense. Even in that game, the linebackers made their fair share of plays, including Van Ginkel’s interception of J.T. Barrett returned for a touchdown. Van Ginkel also forced and recovered a fumble deep inside Ohio State territory that the Badgers turned into a field goal.

GRADE: A – This group was the biggest reason as to why Wisconsin had the best statistical defense in the country. Allowing under 100 yards per game rushing is something that doesn’t happen by accident. Edwards was more than deserving of his All-American honors and will likely be selected in next spring’s NFL Draft if he decides to forego his eligibility.

Wisconsin’s linebackers were arguably the best position group on the team in 2017, and are more than deserving of their ‘A’ grade.