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Ravens 'Cautious' Of Combine's Fast Risers


By now you've likely heard the buzz around the combine's most freakish athletes.

But don't immediately jump into the hype, warned Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz.

"You've got to be cautious," Hortiz said before leaving for Indianapolis.

"Guys that jump from their combine performance on draft boards, they're fast risers. Guys that jump because the media is just learning about the player, they're perceived as fast risers, but the scouts know about them. We've know about guys."

Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence may be a perfect example.

After a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, Spence leapt from a possible second-round pick in pundits' eyes all the way to the Ravens at No. 6 in one mock draft.

But Spence, who was being talked about as a Vonn Miller-like edge rusher, posted a disappointing 40-yard dash time of 4.8 seconds and his vertical and broad jumps weren't as dynamic as pundits expected.

"If you want to be a top-10 pick, Noah, [you have to show] what kind of explosion you have," NFL Media's Mike Mayock said.

Now it wouldn't be surprising if Noah's stock dips a bit post-combine. So where does he really belong in mock drafts and on draft boards? Likely somewhere in the middle, based on his tape.

Hortiz said the players to be especially dubious of are ones that come out of nowhere at the combine.

"The fast risers you worry about are the guys that maybe weren't that good of a player or aren't as good of a player as you think and then he goes to the combine and lights it up," Hortiz said.

"It works both ways. If you get a guy who you have low grades on and he goes to the combine and performs well, it's like, 'Are we low on this guy?' Then some guys go to the Senior Bowl or combine and get their butt handed to them and you think, 'Are we too high on him?'"

So what happens when the tape doesn't match the workout in their underwear?

It means the Ravens assign more homework.

The scouts and coaches all do cross checks on prospects, and they'll go back to the tape even more thoroughly when a player does something unexpected, both for the good and bad.

"The film is the ultimate thing," Hortiz said. "But it's not the only thing."

Film can also lie because there are many factors to why a player may not have been as effective in college as they could be in the pros. That's how you find diamonds in the rough.

Perhaps a player was playing through an injury or injuries. Perhaps they didn't fit the scheme their college team was running. In the case of a pass catcher, perhaps their quarterback didn't give them enough chances to make plays. In the case of a defensive back, perhaps they weren't targeted.

"There are some guys that maybe their scheme calls them to play a different way than they really should be playing," Hortiz said.

"An offensive lineman, for example, may be playing power-type football and you say, 'God, he's just not big enough.' But in our scheme he can run, he's athletic, he can run and he's going to go get guys when he's uncovered.


Take a look at some of the best times and scores at the 2016 NFL Combine.

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