Most of the greatest NFL figures of all time have their own awards. Or at very least, their name is on something. Al Davis is the most pivotal figure who does not have his name on anything, so I am introducing an award for top performers in an event that has Al Davis written all over it -- the scouting combine.
Vince Lombardi has the Super Bowl trophy, Lamar Hunt has the AFC Championship trophy, and George Halas has the NFL Championship Trophy. One could argue Al Davis deserved to have his name on at least the AFC Championship trophy. Or certainly the Rooney rule should be the Davis rule after all the milestones Al Davis set in race relations in the NFL.
But since those trains sailed long ago, Al Davis should at very least have his name on the awards given to top performers at the combine, if for no other reason than the fact that a standout performance there considerably raises the likelihood they will become Raiders.
So here we go. The 2011 Al Davis Combine Freak Team.
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas- Quarterback is the one position on the Al Davis team that is viewed less on what the players can do with their legs and more on what they can do with their arm. Mallett showed the biggest arm among QB's in this year's draft. His detractors are quick to mention character concerns with drugs and general attitude. But such concerns have never swayed Al Davis before so Mallett certainly fits the requirements for this award.
RB Da'Rel Scott, Maryland- Scott had the fastest 40 time (4.34) at the 2011 combine until the defensive backs came in. Many think the 40 yard dash is the most overrated event at the combine but Al Davis loves it, so it has to take some priority in the awards. The Raiders know full well about drafting combine freaks out of Maryland. They reached for the speedy ACC Honorable Mention "receiver" Darrius Heyward-Bey when they drafted him number seven overall in the 2009 draft. Then they took the truly freakish offensive lineman Bruce Campbell in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.
RB Roy Helu Jr, Nebraska- He had the best overall combine among running backs with the fastest 60yd shuttle (11.07) and 20yd shuttle (4.01). His 6.67 in the 3 cone was .01 behind the best 3 cone drill among running backs. The 3 cone and shuttle drills are the most important combine drills for running backs.
WR Julio Jones, Alabama- He had a combine best broad jump 11'3", beating the next best performer by the largest margin of 4 inches. His 4.39 in the 40 yard dash was third among receivers.
WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon- He set a new recent combine record 6.42 in the 3 cone drill. His 10.88 in the 60 yard shuttle was the best among receivers and third overall. He was just .01 off the previous record in the 60 yd shuttle held by former Raider draftee Arman Shields. Maehl's 3.94 in the 20 yard shuttle was second best among receivers and fourth overall.
WR Edmond Gates, Abilene Christian- He had the best 40 (4.37) among the receivers. The Raiders have chosen the receiver with the best 40 time in the draft the last two years so it clearly matters a great deal. Gates was also second in the broad jump (10'11").
TE Virgil Green, Nevada- He had a combine best vertical jump of 42.5 inches and was third among tight ends in the 40 yard dash (4.64).
TE Cameron Jordan, USC- Top five in nearly every category among tight ends, Jordan had the best times in the 3 cone (6.82), 20 yd shuttle (4.03), and 60yd shuttle (11.56). He was second in the 40 yard dash (4.59), second in vertical jump (37.5), third in broad jump (9'11"), and fifth in the bench press with 23 reps.
OL Jason Kelce, Cincinnati- Kelce is the closest thing the 2011 offensive line class has to a Bruce Campbell. He had the fastest 40 yard dash time among offensive linemen (4.93) as well as the best 3 cone (7.22) and the best 20 yd shuttle (4.14).
OL Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse- Bartholomew had the most reps on the bench press among offensive linemen (34) and had the second fastest 40 yard dash time (4.97). This means he has a rare combination of strength and speed.
DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State- Paea set the combine record with 49 reps on the bench, beating the old record of 45.
DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina- He had the second most bench reps (38) at the combine. He is also a terrific all-around athlete. Defensive tackles typically get lumped in with defensive ends with regard to physical skills but no one at the combine has more athleticism for his size than Austin. As a 309 pound defensive tackle, he is extremely athletic. He, like a few other Al Davis award winners, have some character concerns but those issues have no place in this ceremony.
DE Dontay Moch, Nevada- Moch set a recent combine record for defensive linemen with a 4.44 40 yard dash. He also had this year's best vertical jump among defensive lineman (42"), and best broad jump (10"8'). Freak.
DE JJ Watt, Wisconsin- Watt showed why he was such a dominant defensive end in college. He didn't have the best times or distances in any event among the defensive ends but he was in the top three in nearly all of them. He was second in the bench press with 34 reps, second in the vertical jump (37"), second in the 3 cone (6.88), second in the 20yd shuttle (4.21), and third in the broad jump (10'). If Dontay Moch (above) wasn't such an amazing athlete, Watt may have stood out more.
LB Von Miller, Texas A&M- Miller was already considered by many to be the best linebacker in this year's class. His performance at the combine cemented not only a top pick but perhaps THE top pick. He had the best broad jump among linebackers (10'6"), the best 3 cone (6.70), and the best 60 yard shuttle (11.15). He also had the second best 40 yard dash time among linebackers (4.53), third best vertical jump (37"), and third best time in the 20 yd shuttle (4.06). He was already known for his skills, now he has shown he has the athletic ability to match.
LB Martez Wilson, Illinois- As is often the case for an Al Davis award winner, Wilson had the fastest 40 time at his position (4.49). It was the only sub 4.5 time among linebackers. He was also third among linebackers in the broad jump (10'4").
LB Mike Mohamed, California- Mohamed tied for best times among LB in the 3 cone drill (6.70) and 20 yard shuttle (4.00), and the second best 60 yard shuttle (11.25).
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami- His 4.28 40 yard dash is the fastest of the 2011 combine and the third fastest 40 yard dash this millennium just behind Raiders' big-new-contract-corner Stanford Routt who ran a 4.27 back in 2005.
CB Buster Skrine, Tennessee-Chattanooga- Skrine set a new recent combine record in the 60 yd shuttle (10.75). He was second in the 20 yard shuttle and third overall (3.90), with the best 3 cone among corners and second overall (6.44).
S Ahmad Black, Florida- Black was second among safeties in 60 yd shuttle (11.25), best in 3 cone among safeties (6.85), third among safeties in broad jump (9'11"), and best vertical among safeties (35.5)
S Robert Sands, West Virginia- Sands had the best 60 yd shuttle among safeties (11.20), was second in 20yd shuttle among safeties (4.06), the best broad jump among safeties (10'4"). He also tied for second in vertical among safeties (35.0), and ran the third best 40 among safeties (4.57).
Amazing performances. Al Davis has a lot to choose from as many of these guys will be available by the time the Raiders pick in the second round. I see Ryan Bartholomew or Jason Kelce as the most realistic pick of the Raiders in the second round (if available) as these two guys outshined Wisniewski in the combine, and combine stats mean everything to Al Davis.
I am still hoping that Davis picks a quarterback in this draft, as the Raiders need to develop a quality young backup who has the potential to step in and start. As good as Hue Jackson is with quarterbacks, the guy I would pick up (if available) is Ryan Mallet. If it wasn't for the drug issues, Mallet would be a sure fire top 15 pick, and if he fell down to the Raiders in the second round, I think it would be very foolish passing on him for a Bartholomew or Kelce. Mallet has tremendous upside, and I would certainly want Mallet backing up Campbell over Gradkowski, whose weak arm and inability to stay healthy is a hindrance to the Raiders....