The NFL Combine Inviters always miss on some, and this year is no exception. Here's who I feel are the biggest surprise non-invites of the year. And remember, just because a player isn't invited to the combine, it won't ruin his draft chances. There are Pro-Days held by nearly every school after the Combine, and that gives many players the chance to show scouts what they can do.
1. Brian Smith, OLB/Missouri- I have no idea what’s up with this, but it’s one of the biggest surprises that I can remember. Maybe it has something to do with his season-ending injury this season, but he showed enough in the 3 years he played at Mizzou to receive an invite.
2. Brandon Myles, WR/West Virginia- How you can get an invite to the very prestigious Senior Bowl and not be one of the 300 or so players invited to the combine is beyond me. He didn’t do anything to hurt himself at the Senior Bowl, but he didn’t have great statistics in college because of West Virginia’s notorious running game.
3. Kyle Young, C/Fresno St- Believe it or not, many people had him as the top Senior Center in the country coming into the year. Had a sub-par season, but is still as big and strong as ever. Not a great athlete, will probably end up at OG in the NFL.
4. Mel Purcell, DE/Hawaii- In several Hawaii games that I saw, he actually impressed me just as much as (or maybe even more than) more heralded teammate (and one-time member of Mel Kiper’s Big Board) Ikaika Alama-Francis. Has all the tools to be successful in the NFL.
5. T.J. Downing, OG/Ohio St- Versatile technician with an excellent work ethic and a lot of experience. Really impressed me in the East-West Shrine game with his excellent hand-placement, strong base, and good feet. Not the greatest athlete, but, and remember I said this; he will START in the NFL someday.
6. Boo McLee, LB/West Virginia- I don’t know what the Combine Inviters have against West VA, but here’s another Senior Bowl player that failed to receive an invite. Did nothing but impress me with his solid speed for his size, and has been very productive over his career at WVU.
7. Justise Hairston, RB/Central Conn St- Has an excellent combination of size and athleticism. Transferred from Rutgers after Ray Rice and Brian Leonard took most of his P.T., but looked like a star earlier in his career over there. Impressed me in the Hula Bowl.
8. Tyler Ecker, TE/Michigan- He’s always been a good receiving TE, shows soft hands and above average athleticism, but really improved his blocking this year. Has all the tools to make it at the next level.
9. Brett Ratliff, QB/Utah- I really thought he’d show off his arm, size, and overall skills at the Combine, but he didn’t get an invite. Didn’t have a great senior season, was a little inconsistent but there’s no doubting his physical skills.
10. Joe Anoai, DL/Georgia Tech- Nobody knows what position he will end up at, (I think it’s 3-4 DE), but he’s a football player. He’s equally disruptive against the pass and the run. He’s a ‘tweener, lacks the athleticism to be a full time DE, size to be DT.
And finally, I haven't had time yet to come up with scouting reports on all these players, but here is my 1st annual "All-Combine-Snub Team"
QB: Brett Ratliff, Utah
RB: Justise Hairston, Central Conn St
FB: Jackie Battle, Houston
TE: Tyler Ecker, Michigan
WR: Brandon Myles, West Virginia
WR: Maurice Price*, Charleston Southern
LT: Daniel Inman, Georgia
LG: Kurt Quarterman, Louisville
C: Kyle Young, Fresno St
RG: T.J. Downing, Ohio St
RT: Peter Dyakowski, LSU
DE: Mel Purcell, Hawaii
DE: Darius Sanders, Oregon
DT: Joe Anoai, Georgia Tech
DT: Ola Dagunduro, Nebraska
MLB: Boo McLee, West Virginia
OLB: Brian Smith, Missouri
OLB: Mickey Pimentel, Cal
CB: Ramzee Robinson, Alabama
CB: John Talley, Duke
SS: Joe Sturdivant, SMU
FS: Andrew Shanle, Nebraska