Erik Ezukanma, DaMarcus Fields and Dawson Deaton represent Texas Tech at the NFL Combine this week as they each look to improve their draft stock
With the NFL Draft being less than two months away it’s time to preview this weeks NFL Combine and take a look at the three former Texas Tech players that will be participating in the event.
We have all seen these guys play throughout their career, so we’ll be taking a look at what kind of an impact this event can have on them and which events will be key in helping them raise their stocks.
Ezukanma will likely be drafted the highest amongst any Red Raider this year, and quite frankly he could be the only Red Raider drafted. Ezukanma has the size to be a dominant wide receiver at the next level, he just needs to polish off the little things in his game if he wants to truly have an impact.
Going through a lot of different scouting reports on him, and me doing my own work in the scouting department there have been many things to like about EZ as well as some things that clearly need improvement. Ezukanma has clearly shown he is capable of making contested catches, and he has scary speed for his size when running routes that will keep cornerbacks guessing on what he will be doing.
Being a team captain as well as leading the team in receiving throughout his tenure at Tech are things that NFL teams will take notice of as well. He’s a clear leader and obviously we saw that the struggles that the quarterback room had as well as some injuries were things that maybe hindered him from having even more production
One of the eye opening things that he needs to work on are the easy catches that turn into drops. If he can make plays at the next level then maybe that’s something that teams will overlook as we’ve seen with Diontae Johnson, but when you’re trying to make a roster spot and you can’t make the easy catches you’re going to struggle.
He also needs to work on specific routes and making them look more crisp. He was amazing at running slants as well as curls/hitches, but there were other routes that required him to keep his pad level lower where he was too upright and the cuts just weren’t as crisp as they could’ve been. We’ve seen plenty of guys go and fix these issues during the offseason so these really aren’t things that should hinder him his entire career.
As for the combine drills that could have an impact on EZ, the gauntlet drill is going to be one where he can show if he’s improved his ability to catch with his hands and be able to turn up-field with a nice cut. There’s also the other route running drills that they do (five yard out, post-corner) that will be telling in his ability to drop his level and make the necessary cut.
We obviously want to see him run the 40 and see just how fast he is. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ran in the 4.4 range, but if he can get into the 4.3 then that would definitely get the attention of teams.
I expect EZ to test well and be a guy that teams will enjoy talking to with him being the leader he was.
Fields was a guy that consistently on the field for Tech and became one of the leaders early on for the Red Raiders.
He’s going to likely have to make it onto a team as a special teams guy with a chance to show something at either corner or safety depending on where teams see him. He’s a fast guy who could definitely get in the 4.3 range in the 40.
One of his strengths at Tech was his ability to tackle. He was never afraid to stick his nose in their and make a stop on the outside and would be physical with blockers on screens when trying to fight his way to the ball. He was also very fast on the field and could stick with guys with speed alone sometimes especially on crossing routes.
Where he needs to improve is in man coverage and playing the ball when it’s in the air. While he was able to stick with guys on crossing routes with speed, other routes caused a lot of trouble for him throughout his career. He was the number one corner so he would have to guard some of the best receivers in the entire nation, but he’s going to have to guard those guys in the NFL as well and guys that are even better than them.
He should focus on running the best 40 that he can and try to put on some weight because he already has good size for a corner so he could definitely make the transition to safety because he made plays on the ball that teams will take notice of. His hands weren’t the best and he would mostly just break the passes up but that’s better than allowing a catch.
I expect him to either be drafted in the later rounds or picked up as a UDFA.
He was the starting center for most of his career during his time at Tech and was a solid presence there for the most part.
He was never a dominant player at the position which is surprising with his size at the position. He was better in pass protection than he was in the running game which was the case for most of our offensive linemen this year.
He’s a strong guy who has long arms and could really impress scouts this week as well as in his pro day. His size will likely move him to either guard or tackle, so he should start to work on being flexible throughout the entire line.
He lacked the killer instinct that you would like to see in offensive linemen and was never dominant at one part of the game. He was just okay at both and will need to work on his technique more because he relied on athleticism more than he should’ve.
Teams are going to want to see how he moves and if he’s as athletic as he portrays himself to be on tape. His 10-yard split during the 40 will be key in showing if he has the short field burst.