The first NFL Veteran's Combine is set to kick off this Sunday, March 22nd. Here's a complete list of the confirmed participants. While the major media outlets may lead you to believe that Michael Sam is the only participant in this event (since they refuse to talk about anyone else in the event as of yet in coverage), there are actually some non-Michael Sam players that can step in and help out a team. This is going to be interesting. Every player in the Veteran's Combine is worth checking out, but there are some guys that really stand out. I'll compare NFL.com and ESPN's likely picks with my own list of players to watch.
Players to watch, ESPN/NFL.com version:
Michael Sam, DE. Michael Sam was a 7th round pick in 2014, selected by the St. Louis Rams. He was cut by St. Louis and spent some time later in the year on the Cowboys practice squad, before being cut. After Dallas, he spent time on Dancing With the Stars, where his butt was declared to be a "work of art" by judges. He has also surpassed Tim Tebow as the player with the most news articles per NFL snap played in NFL history. I don't have the stats on that, but calculate it, and I can almost guarantee you it's right. Sam may be able to help at the bottom end of a defensive line rotation. He's 25 years old so he's still young, but he needs improvement in multiple areas.
Players to watch, my list:
Jamaal Anderson, DE. Anderson is a former first round pick (8th overall by the Falcons in 2007), and while he has yet to live up to his high draft position, the guy has the tools to be a decent player in the right system, especially as part of a rotation. He'll be interesting to watch.
Adam Carriker, DE. Carriker is also a former first round pick from 2007 (13th overall by the Rams). He's a guy that struggled early in his career, first by playing in a system he wasn't suited for, and then after being traded, missed a lot of time due to injury issues. Given the right scheme, Carriker has a chance to revitalize his career if healthy, and could be at least a very solid rotational tool.
Mikel LeShoure, RB. Leshoure could be the most intriguing player in this entire event. He's only 24 years old, and was released by the Detroit Lions after struggling with injury issues early in his career. He was a second round pick. Leshoure is actually a halfway decent running back, and could be a nice depth guy with the right team. If he can prove he's healthy, I expect Leshoure to use this event to propel himself onto an NFL roster.
Michael Bush, RB. Bush is a guy that has had success as a backup running back in the NFL for a number of years, most notably in Oakland. While he's never going to be a 16 game every down starter, he has the ability to be a serviceable backup for a few years at least.
Felix Jones, RB. Jones is an interesting running back candidate. He's shown flashes at times in his career, but at the same time, he has disappeared for long stretches. Age has caught up with him a bit, but he could help out a team without a top tier #1 running back.
Joe Adams, WR. Adams is a guy that could benefit from another chance in the NFL. He never established himself as a receiver (1 career catch for 7 yards), but showed some ability as a return man. However, he was cut after fumbling twice in one game, and failed to stick in the CFL. He's not a guy that you're going to use in your offense, but teams may look at him as a return guy if he can prove he's past his fumble issues.
Jerron McMillian, S. McMillian is the type of safety that may not be an every down starter but could work well as a rotational guy. He's got some raw talent, and was a hard hitter and solid tackler in college. He was expected to take on too much responsibility early. Safeties generally take a few seasons to develop in the NFL, and with good coaching, McMillian could be a solid depth player and a potential starter given time.
Tyler Wilson, QB. Wilson was a solid starting quarterback in college but never put it together in the NFL. Then again, he was a 4th round draft pick by the Raiders, so he wasn't in the best situation to begin his career. Wilson had flashes of talent in college, and for a while was even mentioned as a potential starter in Oakland. While he's not a guy that's going to be a top tier starter in the NFL, he could be an extremely serviceable backup. He could be fun to watch.
Zach Minter, DT. This one is partly a gut pick on my end. I watched Minter play college ball at Montana State alongside current NFL players Mike Person and Dane Fletcher, so I have a soft spot for him. That being said, Minter has always been an extremely hard-working player. He's not a guy that's going to be a top tier defensive tackle inn the NFL, but he could be a serviceable depth player, and I would love to see him on a team this season. He's a guy that has the talent to warrant another look from NFL teams, and he is, at the very least, as talented a player as Michael Sam.
Those are the guys I'm watching at the Veteran's Combine, but every player in this event is worth a look by NFL front offices. This should be an interesting event to watch, even with no T.O., no Chad Johnson, no Tim Tebow, and no Brett Favre (sorry Madden!). You'll hear the major sports outlets talk about Michael Sam non-stop when covering this event, but there will be other notable players in attendance. Check it out if you're bored this Sunday; at least it's a football-related event at a time of year where football is tough to come by. Enjoy!
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