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Mountaineers Impress at the NFL Combine

Yesterday marked the close of the NFL’s favorite annual window shopping event in Indianapolis.  This year, six West Virginia players were invited to compete against the nation’s best draft-eligible players at the NFL combine and it’s fair to say that none of them disappointed.  Here’s a quick recap:

Will Grier, QB: Grier’s draft stock has undulated rather significantly since the start of this past season.  He’s been pegged as everything from a first-rounder to a second or even third-day prospect who’s hampered by bad footwork and questionable arm strength.  This week in Indy, however, Grier acquitted himself fairly well in all phases.

In the media circuit, Grier seemed at ease and displayed genuine confidence.  On-field, Grier posted solid numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.84) and vertical leap (34 inches) and measured in at a solid 6’2″ and 217 pounds.

Grier still managed to polarize people when it came to his work in the passing circuit where he sailed a few passes.  He also drilled his fair share of throws and showed good velocity on intermediate and deep passes.  In my opinion, the one-on-one sessions Grier has had thus far with several NFL teams will separate him from the rest of the pack.  Grier’s football IQ and maturity are covetable characteristics and he has the physical tools that will allow him to develop into a good signal caller in (preferably) a spread/west coast type system.  If a team like the Carolina Panthers or the New England Patriots, who have veteran star quarterbacks, were to draft Grier and allow him to understudy for several years and get his bearings, he could turn in a fine professional career.

Yodny Cajuste, OL: The Mountaineers’ star bookend impressed right out of the gate with a program record 32 two reps on the bench press.  For those of you in need of clarification, that is A LOT of weight:

While Cajuste neglected to participate in any of the other events at Lucas Oil Stadium, he did well in front of the media and measured out very favorably, especially with a massive 82 1/4″ wingspan.  The Miami native, like the quarterback he protected at the collegiate level, has been whispered as a first-round prospect in several mock drafts.  There’s no doubt that Cajuste is physically packaged to start at the next level.  However, most believe that he’ll need some fine-tuning with regard to his technique, particularly as a run-blocker if he wants to be a starter in the NFL.  Overall, however, Cajuste stands to hear his name called in the early rounds of the draft and made good use of his time in Indianapolis.

Trevon Wesco, TE: This time a year ago, there was virtually no buzz about the West Virginia native and certainly, no one imagined that he would be at the combine winning over NFL brass.  What a difference a year makes.

Trevon Wesco, first of all, is large.  Standing over 6’3″ and just a shade under 270 pounds, he’s as formidable a prospect at the tight end position as you’ll ever find.  He was a welcome surprise in his senior year in Morgantown where emerged as a legitimate downfield threat in the passing game, legitimate enough to gain all-Bi 12 accolades, anyway.  After posting a solid 4.89 time in the 40, Wesco demonstrated sure hands and surprising agility in receiving drills.  NFL teams will like him first and foremost for his pedigree as a run-blocking bulldozer.  However, he also has the raw toolset to develop into a reliable short-yardage receiver either as a tight end or a fullback/h-back in the backfield.  Regardless of where he lines up, Wesco is a football player through and through and he likely made himself a good deal of money in Indianapolis this past week.

Gary Jennings, Jr, WR: Anyone who watched Gary Jennings these past few years knows that he’s an incredibly tough receiver who coincidentally was always getting behind coverage.  All you’ll need to turn to if you’re not convinced of that is this Smithsonian-worthy play.  If there was any Mountaineer that elevated his draft stock significantly at the combine, however, it was Jennings.

20 reps on bench press, 37-inch vertical leap and a blistering 4.42 40 yard dash.  Jennings’ numbers were fantastic and surprised a good number of people, particularly the crowd that labeled Jennings has a possession receiver with below average speed.  At 6’1″ and change and 214 pounds, the Stafford, VA native boasts a big, strong frame that can pack on even more muscle at the next level.  However, the sudden revelation that Jennings has sprinter speed should have NFL teams clamoring to scoop him up earlier than expected and groom him as a big threat in the slot.  For a player that was largely under-appreciated during his time in Morgantown, Gary Jennings owned his time in Indianapolis and proved that he is one of the best wide receiver prospects in the 2019 draft class.  Hawk feathers, all day.

David Sills V, WR: The same kid who grabbed a scholarship offer from Lane Kiffin at age 13 is now in line to be drafted as a wide receiver and deservedly so.  Sills’ prodigious touchdown streak at West Virginia the last two seasons did not come without merit as he posted great numbers in Indy, including a surprisingly fast 4.57 time in the 40:

Sills is an interesting prospect.  He’s got a tremendously high ceiling given that he’s only played receiver for just over two years and based on raw talent alone, he’s a developmental dream.  During receiving drills, Sills was sure-handed and looked like a guy in his element.  With his football IQ and quarterback pedigree, Sills could be a dream prospect for a team looking for a red zone threat who can read and decipher any manner of defensive schemes.  If he can add some muscle to his lean frame and develop an extending route tree, David Sills could be a very successful possession receiver at the next level.  Consider his time in Indy a big win.

David Long, Jr, LB: David Long is an animal.  We all know this.  However, the reigning Big 12 DPOY only participated in the bench press (18 reps) this weekend and questions still abound about his size and durability.  If numbers are gospel, especially in a defensively-maligned league like the Big 12, then Long should absolutely be drafted.

If there’s an NFL team out there that likes to zone blitz and plays some variation of Tampa 2, Long is the guy.  He has natural instincts that you simply can’t teach.  Unfortunately, his combine showing was largely limited and one hopes that his pro day showcases more of his physical ability.  Of all of West Virginia’s combine attendees, Long might be the only one who saw his draft stock plateau.  It will be interesting to see what happens with him come the draft in April, but for those of us who have watched him over the last few years, there is no doubt that David Long, Jr, is one of the most exciting defensive prospects to pass through Morgantown and could be an exciting player to watch at the next level.

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