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Cardinal in the Combine

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NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Pittsburgh vs Stanford Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford Cardinal football team was represented by seven members of last year’s squad in the 2019 NFL Combine, taking place from Feb. 26 to Mar. 4.

Each Combine participates graded by the NFL scouts on how they will possibly acclimate to the next level. Both the Combine stats and the production built through each players college product build the grade for those attending the weekend festivities. The highest grade at the 2019 combine, according to NFL.com, was a 6.70. Here is how the boys from Northern California crowd faired.

Stanford Players & Combine Grades

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside - 5.78

Kaden Smith - 5.56

Bryce Love - 5.53

Nate Herbig - 5.45

Bobby Okereke - 5.42

Jake Bailey - 5.25

Alijah Holder - 5.00

Since this is a sports article, so allow me to overreact to these grades.

*clears throat *

Top Four Grievances

1 - Love’s average grade made plenty of sense here. After a puzzling disappearing act in 2018, following a run at the Heisman, the star running back tore his ACL. Teams will be skeptical about the biologist’s ability to hit his 2017 stride.

No, the most confusing grade came for cornerback Alijah Holder. Grading out the worst of all the Cardinal in attendance, the fifth-year senior posted one of the better 40-yard dash times and vertical jumps.

Going beyond the spandex-clad events, Holder was a fantastic utility corner. Not only did he play stout on the outside, but he was also frequently brought in to the opposition’s ground game and a big part of the blitz packages for Stanford.

Holder is a corner that NFL teams should love: he can be tossed all over the formation and is not afraid to play inside the hash marks.

2 - There should have been more excitement around Okereke. He is a linebacker in the same mold of a Jamie Collins for the Cleveland Browns, but with more discipline. The speed that makes him so dangerous in coverage makes him a notorious linebacker to block on stunts and blitzes.

The most valuable linebackers in the NFL must play sideline to sideline, while still giving the front seven teeth. In a season that watched the Cardinal rely heavily on their backers for a vast majority of the pass rush, Okereke proved a vital switchblade piece in the front seven. His speed also made him a solid coverage piece. He could sneak up to the line and then bailout or blitz, with the catch-up speed to cover up tight ends and slot receivers. One would think Okereke would look like an attractive piece.

3 - There is a bit of homer bitterness that Herbig graded out reasonably well when the better offensive lineman (center Jesse Burkett) failed to receive an invite. There were some real disastrous on the offensive line and some even worse games for the front five, but Burkett was an anchor for the rocky offensive line.

Burkett should have been another representative for the Cardinal over the weekend.

4 - Smith is going to be the next Tyler Eifert, hopefully, save for the injury bug. The grade says more about his combine performance or the stagnant offense trapping him. What should have him ranked is his raw potential, especially in the red zone.

The 6-foot-5 tight end is a massive target and uses his frame to box and bully defenders attempting to cover him. The middle of the field is his as well, consistently finding soft spots and creases in the middle of the defense. A massive catch radius and the crafty route running have paired well with a nose for scoring in the end zone.

Owning the dual-threat capabilities that playing for Stanford yields means that Smith is as valuable in the running game as he is in the passing attack. He will go under the radar until some team gladly benefits from the cheap pick.