February took us by storm and as spring is in the horizon, the window to the NFL Draft is steadily dwindling. With the Indianapolis Combine ending the 25th after starting on the 22nd, teams got a chance to examine college players' athleticism more closely. There were multiple names who improved their stocks through fantastic showcases in front of scouts, general managers, and coaches. New England Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio and head coach Bill Belichick were in attendance and a handful of players undoubtedly caught their eyes.
WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Highlights: 2nd fastest 40 yard dash: 4.33... fastest 20 yard shuttle... fastest 60 yard shuttle
Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver. The 5'10" 190 lber caught 128 passes for 1730 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013 after 67 catches, 1151 yards, and five scores in 2012. The knock on Cooks is his size. Still, most of these draft "gurus" are as reliable as your local weatherman. This kid has elite speed and balance to make up for his stature. Can be a legit slot weapon. Patriots need a wide receiver and may not be sold on Josh Boyce. Though best suited for slot, Cooks could transition to a dangerous blazer who can make big plays downfield splitting coverages. Steve Smith.
TE Trey Burton, University of Florida
Highlights: 4th fastest TE dash: 4.62... 2nd fastest TE three cone drill... 5th fastest 20 yard shuttle
The 6'3" 230 lb Burton is small for a tight end, but plays the exact role Aaron Hernandez did at UF. While he is nowhere near the athlete Hernandez is, Burton could excel in the same tight end position New England utilized Hernandez in. He is versatile and played full back for the Gators a lot during his career. Burton can be had in the 4th round, but he will be a serviceable NFL tight end or H-Back and has a high ceiling. Also ran the ball in 2010 75 times for 349 yards and 11 touchdowns. 38 catches, 445 yards, just one touchdown in 2013. Not overly physical, just four receiving touchdowns in four years, but solid blocker on passing downs. Good look for spread option team in late rounds...
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Highlights: 4.53 dash...
Evans didn't post top performances at the combine, but he hung around the top five in most categories. While his speed isn't spectacular for being 6'5", he is massive at 230 lbs which slows him down. Evans also tends to have stiff hips, and basketball was his first passion. Bottom line is, he could be the best wide receiver in the Draft. Teamed up with Johnny Manziel for 151 catches, 2499 yards and 17 TDs in two seasons. He is physical, has great hands, will go over the middle, and be force in the red zone. Though he didn't wow anyone at the combine, Evans solidified his legitimacy earning positive marks from scouts. Should go top 10, could potentially slip. Pats could trade up for this stud or Clemson's Sammy Watkins if Belichick and co. think one of the two are legit enough to be serious playmakers as rookies. Vincent Jackson.