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Breaking down the local prospects' performances at the NFL Combine

By Dillon Anderson, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Mar 5th, 2019 @ 1:44pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Using the MockDraftable database, KSL.com analyzes the local prospects’ NFL Combine results.

Utah

Chase Hansen, LB

A strong safety-converted-linebacker during his final season at Utah, Chase Hansen lacks the traditional size NFL teams desire for the position — and the data proves it. Across the board, Hansen’s measurables fall short of the position’s standard thresholds, with his weight (222 lbs.), wingspan (74 1/8), and arm length (30 1/2) landing at or below the sixth percentile for linebackers, per the accounting at MockDraftable.

Hansen makes up for this to some extent with his 6-foot-2 frame; but even then, his height can be viewed as a problem, as taller linebackers can have trouble lowering the pad level when making tackles.

For Hansen, who did not test in any of the drills (presumably due to a lingering hip injury), adding weight to a slight frame with durability issues will be imperative over the next few months. Should he do that, he'll profile as a hybrid/dime-linebacker at the next level, akin to a Mark Barron or Deone Buchanan. With unique coverage skills from years of playing in the secondary, Hansen figures to see the field on passing downs almost immediately.

For a lot of teams, though, it may be hard to justify spending anything more than a mid- to late-round pick on Hansen. Undersized, injury-prone and older than most teams would like at 25 years old, Hansen could go anywhere in rounds three to seven.

Cody Barton, LB

In terms of improving draft stock, no local player did more for themselves than Utah’s Cody Barton, who wrecked the drill portion of the combine in Indianapolis.

With strong showings in the 40-yard dash (4.64), 3-cone drill (6.9 seconds), and 20- and 60-yard shuttles (4.03 and 11.47 seconds), Barton showcased rare agility for a box linebacker and, in doing so, reinforced his special coverage skills and short-area quickness that have already shown up on tape.

While he is a bit undersized — ranking below the 41st percentile all-time in weight (237 lbs.), wingspan (76 1/4) and arm length (31 7/8) — Barton makes up for this with toughness and a relentless motor. A player who doesn’t quit on any play, Barton amassed 116 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, in 14 games as an on-line and off-ball hybrid last season.

With a versatile skill-set and strong work ethic, Barton will provide value for a team in need of a linebacker who’s both capable in run support and in defending space plays.

Jackson Barton, OT

While Cody’s brother, Jackson, didn’t necessarily do anything at the combine that jumped off the page, there are some numbers worth paying attention to, chiefly his broad jump. At 109 inches, the older Barton ranks in the 84th percentile all-time in that drill, which has proven helpful for measuring an offensive lineman’s lower-body explosiveness and power.

Additionally, Barton posted respectable numbers in the 40-yard dash (5.18) and the more important 20-yard shuttle (4.66), which is useful in judging a prospect’s lateral agility and balance. At 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, he also possesses idyllic size.

Comparatively speaking, Barton appears to be in good company in terms of his all-around testing numbers. The MockDraftable database has Mike McGlinchey, Bryan Bulaga and Roger Saffold as players with similar physical and testing profiles, though those comparisons come with a caveat, as all certainly had an upper hand on Barton in terms of tape.

As it is, Barton is projected as seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent by draftscout.com.

Marquise Blair, S

There is a lot to like about the highly-rated Blair from a physical and athletic standpoint; and on Monday, he showed why. The safety recorded an impressive 4.48 in the 40 (81st percentile), 125 inches in the broad jump (80th percentile), and checked in at 6-foot-2 with a 74 3/4-inch wingspan.

Blair possesses exceptional length as a safety, which helps him not only in coverage but also in open-field tackling (though Blair, admittedly, has been inconsistent in that department). A noted striker in the middle of the field who has drawn a number of targeting penalties, Blair has experience playing either safety position, in addition to playing up as a box safety at times.

If he adds some weight to an otherwise impressive physical frame, watch for Blair to catch on with a team looking for a versatile safety with thunder in his pads.

Matt Gay, K; Mitch Wishnowsky, P

Along with Hansen, Matt Gay did not participate in any of the on-field workouts at the combine. Such as it is, all we have is the former Lou Groza award winner’s physical measurables; and those, crucially, aren’t cause for concern.

As for Mitch Wishnowsky, the nation’s top-ranked punter according to draft-scout.com, special attention should be paid to his — you guessed it — elite athleticism. With a blazing 4.63 40-time, Wishnowsky ranks in the 99th percentile all-time for punters, and his 32 1/2-inch vertical jump (71st percentile) is nothing to sneeze at either.

Drafted or not, expect both players to be on an NFL roster come training camp.

BYU

Sione Takitaki, LB

Yet another linebacker from the local prospects, Sione Takitaki didn’t have the performance that Cody Barton did, but he still put up solid numbers and passed a few tests in Indy. His broad jump (125 in.), vertical jump (37 in.) and 40-yard time (4.63) placed him in the 91st, 82nd and 75th percentiles, respectively. Takitaki may have moved up a few draft boards after his performance on Sunday.

NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlien wrote, in part: “He covers up for a lack of speed and instincts with a hard-charging style that leads to feast or famine tape at times. He has deficiencies that muddy his fit at all three linebacker spots, but his playing style is tailor-made for special teams which could be his ticket into a backup linebacker spot at the back-end of a roster.”

Heading into Sunday, draftscout.com had Takitaki as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Utah State

Dax Raymond, TE

A solid pass-catcher for the Aggies over the last two seasons, Dax Raymond proved he has the size and athleticism necessary to play tight end in today’s NFL.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end clocked a 4.73 in the 40 and an 11.87 in the 60-yard shuttle, which put him in the 63rd and 62nd percentiles for the position. He also recorded a respectable 7.15 in the 3-cone drill, and his 10 1/4-inch hand size — perfect for snaring balls beyond his catch radius — was third among this year's tight end group.

From a size and agility standpoint, Raymond checked all the boxes. He may offer value to an NFL team looking for an option to flex-out at the next level.

Weber State

Iosua Opeta, OT

Weber State’s Iosua Opeta put up the type of performance that will have scouts scrambling to his tape. On Friday, the 6-foot-4, 301-pound prospect showed out as a workout warrior, with his bench press (39 reps), 40-yard dash (5.02), vertical jump (33 in.) and broad jump (112 in.) — all ranking above the 90th percentile for offensive lineman.

An athletic freak, Opeta looks to follow in the footsteps of Taron Johnson and become Weber’s second-drafted player since 2011.



Follow Dillon on Twitter @dillondanderson.

Dillon Anderson

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