I wouldn’t blame them if their knees were weak and their palms were sweaty. I wouldn’t blame them if they had regurgitated some pasta onto their sweaters.
Our beloved California Golden Bears are mere college students and three of them are going out for a job interview—with national media scrutinizing them. NBD.
Evan Weaver, Ashtyn Davis, and Jaylinn Hawkins have been invited to the NFL Combine and will embark on the workouts and physical drills. Except that’s a lie.
Davis has been hampered with a groin injury since the season, which caused him to miss the Big Game and the Redbox Bowl; recovery from the resulting surgery kept him from physically taking part in the Senior Bowl activities and will keep him out of the Combine workouts.
SOURCE: #Cal safety Ashtyn Davis will not be running at this week’s combine. He’s still coming back from a late-season surgery. Davis, an All-American hurdler, is one of the fastest guys in this year’s draft.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 24, 2020
This is not to suggest that the Combine is no longer critical for him as he will still be meeting with teams who will be assessing him for personality, soft skills, and intangibles. Per NFL.com’s official draft profiles, Davis is the highest-rated Bear of this class with a score of 6.33 out of 8 (or 15.03/19), corresponding to an assessment of “will be [an NFL] starter within [his] first two seasons” (or WBWF2S). This is the fourth-best grade among safeties with a tight race between second and fifth (with scores ranging from 6.32–6.37). Their profile details his strengths (raw athletic ability and character) and weaknesses (technical mechanics and discipline in containment), but here’s their overview:
Late-comer to the game who has rare physical gifts that can’t be taught but can be capitalized on. His instincts are just average right now, but he appears to have decent recognition skills. He just needs to trust what he sees. Learning to play under control in coverage and as a tackler will be the difference between being considered a good football player instead of an explosive athlete. The elite traits should get him drafted inside the first two days, but there are some boom/bust elements to his game right now. He should become a future starter at safety, but his size, length and speed could create interest in him as a potential cornerback conversion.
Davis was evaluated as high as a first-round pick, but assessments and mock drafts seem to have him slipping to the second round, where he would be a steal.
Our other safety at the combine is none other than the Ballhawk, Jaylinn Hawkins. Hawkins will have to seize every opportunity at the Combine as he is currently scored as a “priority free agent” at 5.40/8 (12.8/19). This is a threeway tie for 17th among safeties, but also the lowest score among safeties they graded. As someone who’s awful at scouting talent, I question how they can claim he doesn’t “make enough plays on the football” or remember him having a particularly egregious streak of targeting penalties.
Physical safety whose lack of speed and cover talent could pigeonhole him as a box safety at the next level. His eyes and instincts are good enough in space, but Hawkins just doesn’t have the twitch to make enough plays on the football. He’s a striker, but not reliable as a “get him down” tackler in the open field and that will work against him. He will need to shine as a special-teams contributor to make a roster.
Tackle machine Evan Weaver flew to the Combine on Tuesday, where one Cal fan exchanged a hearty Go Bears with the mauler. Our resident big boi got his official measurements taken so we can freak out over minutia like hand size:
While we adore the Weav, pundits are skeptical of his athleticism and ability to play in coverage, leading to a score of 5.95/8 (14.1/19), falling somewhere between “back-up/special teams” and “developmental traits–based prospect”; he’s the 19th linebacker listed in the NFL’s draft tracker. His analysis notes his “[o]utlandish production” and has the weirdest phrasing to criticize his physique (“Won’t be a head-turner at the beach” and “Built like an undersized center with stubby arms and fleshy midsection”).
Rambunctious tackle sponge and perennial grudge holder who lives to prove people wrong. Weaver certainly doesn’t look the part of All-American inside ‘backer in the uniform, but he lives for football and plays every snap with urgency. He can be patient but has the instincts and play-recognition skills to beat blockers to the spot. He is slow-twitch, and there is no question that his athletic limitations will be harder to disguise against NFL competition. A lack of traits could limit his upside, but he has the intangibles and toughness to compete as a backup box banger in a 3-4 alignment.
As a total non-scout, I imagine the biggest questions surrounding Weaver are about his athleticism and movement on the field, so his combine numbers today and over the weekend will be critical.
Today, we anticipate Davis and Hawkins landing in Vegas and going through the measurements. The bench press testing will be the first test they conduct, with Weaver likely lifting on Friday and Hawkins showing off on Saturday. Weaver and other players from the defensive front-seven will take the field for workouts on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT; Hawkins and the defensive backs will have their on-field segment on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. Both events will stream on NFL.com and probably some NFL channel in some cable package somewhere.