Northwest Stars Expected To Shine At NFL Scouting Combine, Draft
Northwest college football stars are among the hundreds of athletes who’ve been invited to take the first step toward being drafted into the NFL. They’re being evaluated this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Several local standouts could be top draft picks.
A Big Deal
KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the scouting combine is significant. It's where potential draft picks are tested, examined, measured and evaluated by NFL teams.
“It is an important point in the calendar because this marks the start of the 2015 season for the NFL," he said.
Marcus Mariota: 'Best Quarterback In Draft'
Among the more than 300 college football stars invited to the NFL Scouting Combine this year are eight notable athletes from the University of Washington, Washington State University and the University of Oregon.
Perhaps the most popular combine participant from this region is Oregon quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. According to Art, Mariota is being touted as the top draft pick this year.
“He is going to probably be among the top five and there are many scouts who say he should be taken No. 1 overall because he’s the best quarterback in the draft.
“In my view, he’s certainly better than Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy the year before Mariota. But I don’t think he's the quarterback or the athlete or the leader that Mariota is.”
Huskies At The Combine
Four University of Washington players were invited to attend the combine: defensive lineman Danny Shelton, offensive linemen Shaq Thompson and Ha’oulie Kakaha and dismissed cornerback Marcus Peters.
“They all are very well regarded and should go fairly early in the draft," Art said.
Danny Shelton 'Does Rare Things'
“I think Danny Shelton is going to be a top ten pick,” Art continued. “He’s a 340-lb. lineman who moves like somebody who weighs 210 pounds. You just don’t see that combination.
“A lot of scouts have fallen in love with his ability. He does rare things at a position that’s hard to fill.”
Second Chance For Marcus Peters?
Marcus Peters is looking for redemption at the combine.
“Those who follow Husky football know that he was kicked off the team in mid-season by new coach Chris Petersen for misbehaving, confronting coaches and generally being disobedient,” Art said.
“It was a real shocker when this happened. It hurt the team on the field and probably hurt Petersen a little bit in terms of reputation.”
Now Peters is on a media campaign to try to restore his credibility.
“He’s giving interviews in which he’s saying, for example to USA Today, that not only should he have been kicked off the team for immaturity, they should’ve done it sooner,” Art said.
“It’s an interesting thing where he’s reinventing himself after damaging his reputation and career. But there are enough people who think he’s a first-round talent that if he convinces them of his sincerity and his contrition, he will go in the first round.”
Seahawks On The Hunt
Peters could go to the Seahawks. Art says the team stays mum during the scouting combine but they are on the hunt.
“They don’t get into details about who they want and who they’re going to draft, but they do gather valuable information to help them where the Seahawks live year-to-year, which is the NFL draft.”
Art says the Seahawks are in need of another strong defensive back and Peters is the kind of troubled player that coach Pete Carroll likes to take under his wing.
“So, who knows, we may see Marcus Peters back [in Seattle] in a Seahawks uniform,” Art said.
Cougars At The Combine
Three Washington State University players were also invited to the scouting combine: quarterback Connor Halliday, wide receiver Vince Mayle and offensive lineman Xavier Cooper.
“I’m not sure that any of them will be drafted, but if they do they will go late round," Art said.
You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.