A Lighter Shade of Garnet Presents: A Scout's Guide to South Carolina Combine Participants

Stephon Gilmore, noted NFL Scouting Combine benefactor - Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

FACT: If you aligned the dreadlocks of departing Gamecock players end to end, you could reach the moon and back seven times.

Ah, February. It’s cold, basketball's down again, and Steve Spurrier is currently cracking a Coors Orig on the 17th tee at the Ocean Course. "Mr. Spurrier," the groundskeeper implores, "please don’t discard your empties in the water hazard. Turtles live there." "What in the hell they payin’ you for?" Spurrier smirks, launching another can lakeward and unleashing a thunderous belch at the top of his backswing. He sticks it within five feet, then two putts. Life: is it fair for anyone in this scenario? Certainly not the turtles. Alas, that’s February for you.

Meanwhile, garnet and black devotees are in a strange place. We could watch Frank Martin’s basketball team, but we’re not even sure Frank Martin’s doing that at this point. The women’s team is humming along, so there is that. Baseball’s here, but it’s still too fresh to make sense of quite yet.

Indeed, it’s a bleak, blurry stretch for Gamecock fans. But hark! The NFL Network has deployed its forces to Indianapolis and DJ Swearinger is tweeting Joyce-like strings of hyperintense gibberish, which can only mean the NFL Scouting Combine is upon us. What is the Combine, you ask? Well, person who would never be reading this blog in the first place, it’s the NFL’s annual youngblood meat parade wherein grizzled scouts watch prospects throw and catch and run and pick things up and put them down and speak and roll over and do that thing where they jump as high as they can to slap the little flags. They are then given a firm, full-body inspection by a visibly rabid Todd McShay before they’re handed a Sponsored Energy Drink and told to exit the premises.

This entire process can have a profound impact on a player’s DRAFTABILITY, or "ability to be draft able." It all builds up to April’s draft, when they’ll be selected and invited to a training camp, from which they’ll be summarily cut and forgotten forever. That is, of course, unless they were drafted in the first three rounds or are Tom Brady, who, as we all know, is an actor hired by the NFL as part of a nefarious scheme to raise advertising rates on day three of the draft.

Carolina was plenty visible in 2012, having had three former players taken in the first two rounds. Stephon Gilmore, as you may remember, leveraged his performance at the Combine into a first round pick. (Unfortunately, he was taken by Buffalo, amounting to a net loss.)

Once again, Gamecock fans should hear a handful of familiar names called over the course of the draft’s seven rounds. Until then, we’ll see and read scads of draft analysis, pore over mock drafts, and spend far too much time staring into the squinted gaze of sentient goat cheese sculpture Mel Kiper. And the spark that ignites all this hullabaloo? The NFL Scouting Combine.

This year, seven former Gamecocks travel to Indianapolis. We at Garnet and Black Attack realize the scouts in attendance face an overwhelming task—scrutinizing many dozens of players, being in Indianapolis for an extended period of time, etc. We’re here to help. Ahead, we profile the septet of Gamecocks, providing measurables, projections, a handy pros/cons list, and guest analysis. Read on!

The Seven Combine Invitees

Dj_medium

MEASURABLES: 6’0", 210, 260º F body temperature.

LIKELY TO GO: 2nd-3rd round, barring any mysterious injuries befalling all the safeties ahead of him, which surely won’t happen. Surely not.

PROS AND CONS:

+ Sun glinting off platinum grill during day games could temporarily blind ball carriers.

- Conversely, grill presents choking hazard.

+ Intense, like Ray Lewis, but less stabby.

+ The NFL still rewards excessive celebration with 4 bonus points, right?

- Look, he’s a good guy, but you’ll want to warn your PR team that at some point he’s probably gonna Instagram his dick.

+ Propensity for reenergizing dejected fan bases behind neologisms that they use frequently but still don't completely understand. #turnt

GUEST ANALYSIS:

"Hard hitter. Solid taunter. Also: ouch." — Andre Ellington

Ace_medium

MEASURABLES: He’s a lil’ guy!

LIKELY TO GO: To the house.

PROS AND CONS:

+ Set multiple school records in dreadlocks.

+ Is a gifted returner.

- Is a gift returner. [I know you swapped those Ralph Lauren dress socks for store credit, Ace. What, you didn't think I'd find out? /sobs]

- If you need him to sign a contract or something, don’t accept Instagrammed agreements. Trust us.

- Size might encourage Phil Simms to fountain lazy descriptors like "diminutive" and "sneaky".

GUEST ANALYSIS:

"CONGRATULATIONS FOR PURCHASE ACE HARDWARE™ ELECTRIC BELT SANDER. PLEASE TO READ INSTRUCTION BEFORE OPERATE PRODUCT." — Instruction Manual, Ace™ Sanders. [ed: This is oddly fitting.]

Tj_medium

MEASURABLES: Taller’n a sycamore, bigger’n a grizzly.

LIKELY TO GO: Hunting; failing that, fishing.

PROS AND CONS:

+ Having logged 53 career starts at center, totally comfortable having some guy shout at his ass.

- Is 45, a steel worker.

+ Once killed eight dudes with a Bowie Knife in Thieves Landing after losing at liar's dice. No, wait—that was my guy in Red Dead Redemption.

+ He’s like, really big and, oh man, SUPER strong, so that’s a really good thing for being a football guy! #scouting

+ TJ stands for "The Jesus".

GUEST ANALYSIS:

"TJ’s a dependable guy. Hard worker. Been a major asset to the team for these past 25 years." — Albert J. Crimple, shift manager, Amalgamated Steel

Dh_medium

MEASURABLES: 6’2", 241, godlike eyebrows

LIKELY TO GO: 1st overall, after a ‘good luck’ handshake with Jadeveon Clowney during a lightning storm mysteriously swaps the players’ abilities. It’s the summer's most anticipated family-oriented sports film, Me So Clowney! Starring Chris Tucker as Devonte Holloman, Terry Crews as Jadeveon Clowney, James Caan as Steve Spurrier, Ralph Macchio as Todd McShay, and the inimitable Kathy Bates as Mel Kiper, Jr.!

PROS AND CONS:

+ Unaffiliated with 2000 Kevin Bacon vehicle Hollow Man.

- Arrested for a DUI in 2011, but played alongside Stephen Garcia so nobody noticed.

- Giving further weight to potential character issues, was at one time committed to Clemson.

+ Incidentally, never lost to Clemson. [Note to scouts: bullet can be applied to all prospects.]

+ Attended a state school on scholarship and played as a combination linebacker/defensive back; therefore, can be considered a government subsidized hybrid. We’ll go ahead and prepare the paperwork, Seattle.

GUEST ANALYSIS

"One of my favorite targets!"Tajh Boyd

Lat_medium

MEASURABLES: A lovable 6’0" and 218 pounds you just gotta root for.

LIKELY TO GO: Not in the first round round because life is but a cruel, chaotic mishmash of meaningless circumstances.

PROS AND CONS:

+ Low risk pick, having already blown out both knees and thus having no further knees to blow out.

- Tests for high levels of likability, thus rendering him draft-ineligible for several franchises (Dallas, Philadelphia, New York Jets).

+ Actually that’s a good thing.

+ Endorsement deals imminent as Nike recognizes potential of Lattimore’s trademark phrase, "Aw, Definitely" as ideal replacement for dated "Just Do It" corporate slogan.

- High likelihood of winding up on different team than DJ Swearinger increases reinjury risk.

GUEST ANALYSIS:

"GAAAAH HIS KNEE" — Guy who just Google Image Searched Marcus Lattimore

Jc_medium

MEASURABLES: 6’4", 264, but plays like he’s at least 6’5", 268

LIKELY TO GO: Later rounds, which is why he will perform all Combine drills in a tuxedo to drum up buzz.

PROS AND CONS:

- Was rated by Rivals a two-star prospect out of high school, which makes it really rude of him to have had such an impressive college career and embarrass Rivals like that.

+ Proudly exclaims "And Justice is served!" after catching touchdowns, opening pizza boxes, mowing the lawn.

+ Remember that really cool hair shake thing after getting hit in the Vanderbilt game? Troy Polamalu's not getting any younger, Head and Shoulders.

- Is from Pageland, SC, which he clearly made up.

- Potential for confusion with this guy.

GUEST ANALYSIS:

"The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of Justice." — Martin Luther King, Jr. (Pretty sure that’s a Bengals scout, not the civil rights activist.)

Dt_medium

MEASURABLES: 267. Both height and weight. Don’t ask questions.

LIKELY TO GO: 47th round, after mistakenly filing for the MLB draft.

PROS AND CONS:

+ Quite possibly the worst interview subject in sports, making controversial statements to the media unlikely.

+ Is super tall in case you need someone to get something off of a shelf.

- Has weird hair, which, paired with muted personality, is somehow made weirder.

+ Totally knows Jadeveon Clowney, could probably get you an autograph or something.

- Prone to fall asleep after lining up, continue to hold position and snore loudly while play develops around him.

GUEST ANALYSIS:

"Kill...me..." — Devin Taylor’s hair

What About The Others?

Unfortunately, not all players get Combine invitations. Some must make impressions through more creative channels. Here are the methods insider sources say might benefit those graduating Gamecock players that aren't Combine-bound:

Adam Yates - K: Strap ransom notes reading "DRAFT ADAM YATES" to 32 footballs; kick through NFL franchise office windows.

Byron Jerideau - DT: Enter Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, wear "DRAFT BYRON" bib.

Akeem Auguste - CB: You know what? Just sit perfectly still and see if you get drafted.

Qua Chilchrist - FB: Develop craft beer called "Gilchrist Draft", sell kegs to bars frequented by scouts with hopes that words "Draft" and "Gilchrist" infiltrate their subconscious.

Kenny Miles - RB: Create viral video of an augmented version of the Proclaimer's 1988 hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" with the lyrics "And I would draft Keh-heh-nee Miles..."

Shaq Wilson/Reginald Bowens/Damario Jeffery - LB: Climb atop one another, don enormous trenchcoat, teeter awkwardly into team headquarters and ask if anyone needs a linebacker.

GABA and ALSOG would like to wish the best of luck to all Gamecocks with professional aspirations. May Goodell have mercy on your souls.

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