The Hulk or Bruce Banner?

Written by Shane Hallam on April 5, 2010


By Shane Hallam 4/3/10


Growing up with two older brothers, I had a lot of exposure to comic books and superheroes.  One of my favorites was always the Incredible Hulk, who was often depicted in cartoons and movies as the harmless, fearful Bruce Banner until his anger metamorphosed him into the ultimate physical machine, The Hulk.

 
So, what does this have to do with the draft?  Well, I hate the term “boom or bust.”  It makes it sounds like a guy will either be a Hall of Famer or flipping burgers at McDonalds.  More often than not, a guy will either end up a Pro Bowler or become an inconsistent spot starter.  Essentially, they either get to be a variation of the dynamic Hulk or timid Bruce Banner.  I am going to pick out one first day pick by position and explain to you who will show up as a pro, The Hulk or Bruce Banner.


Quarterback: Tim Tebow, Florida
There isn’t a more divisive prospect than Tim Tebow, one of the greatest college football players of all-time. The common moniker is: “He just wins.” From peewee football to high school to college, Tim Tebow has always been successful, but what does it mean for the NFL? Even with plenty of additional work on the basics, no one knows if Tebow’s windup, delivery and footwork will be NFL caliber in gametme situations. Even when revising his throwing motion, Tebow seemed to lack a bit of arm strength and accuracy needed for the NFL. We have seen Quarterbacks with high intangibles and not ideal skills like Jeff Garcia, Doug Flutie, and Jake Delhomme succeed in the NFL, while others like Danny Wuerffel, Heath Shuler, David Klingler, and Rick Mirer had excellent intangibles but couldn’t make it in the NFL. It would be a big mistake to think Tebow can’t succeed. If he lands in the right situation and can develop, Tim Tebow could make it work in the NFL.


Diagnosis: The Hulk


Running Back: Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
There may not be a player who rose their stock more at the Senior Bowl. Dexter McCluster came out and made plays in practice and the game as a jack of all trades type of player who can run the ball, catch the ball, and even run a bit of the wildcat. A likely second round pick playmaker, McCluster will be drafted based on his explosiveness and forcing opposing defenses to plan around him. Though his 40 time disappointed, McCluster came through in cone drills and showed he is more quick than fast. The biggest question is if he can take an NFL beating and if having multiple positions is better than having one firm position. There are major doubts about if McCluster can live up to a 2nd round draft pick and contribute as a starting quality player.


Diagnosis: Bruce Banner


Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech
A prospect who is rising up draft boards, Demaryius Thomas came out of the spread offense in Georgia Tech and is a bit of an enigma. He has extraordinary athleticism and has the potential to be a #1 wideout in the NFL. A tough and stingy blocker as well, teams are looking at Thomas as a late first round pick who will need some developing. If you want a homerun threat down the field, Thomas will be the guy to grab. The fundamentals are the biggest question mark as Thomas rarely had to beat a jam or run a crisp route for the Yellow Jackets. Toss in a broken foot before the combine and workouts, there are still plenty of question marks. Thomas feels like a guy who will be drafted and just never quite live up to expectations.


Diagnosis: Bruce Banner


Tight End: Jimmy Graham, Miami
A basketball player at Da U, Jimmy Graham opted not to play overseas to try his hand for the Hurricanes football team, and he impressed. An elite red zone target this past year, Graham shot up draft boards and NFL scouts began to take notice. He is a shade over 6’6 at 260 pounds and a nightmare for a linebacker to cover. He gives effort as a blocker though is not refined, and ultimately has the upside NFL teams want in a tight end. The lack of production and inconsistency in only one year of play is a big fear to take him early, but he has the work ethic and skill to become a very good NFL TE.


Diagnosis: The Hulk


Offensive Line: Bruce Campbell, Maryland
There may not be a better player to highlight in this article than Bruce Campbell. He had a Tarzan type of workout at the combine, wowing teams with speed, athleticism, size, strength, and everything inbetween. On film, he looks like Jane, allowing undersized defensive players to overpower him and not getting any push in the run game. The question is which player will we get in the NFL? Offensive Line coaches are salivating over the possibilities of a stud left tackle with Hall of Fame upside. If he lives up to potential, the upside is endless and many coaches will feel they can coach him up to that. The major problem is, most times those picks don’t work out and Campbell may just be another in a long line of athletic busts.


Diagnosis: Bruce Banner


Defensive Line: Carlos Dunlap, Florida
Speaking of high upside players, Carlos Dunlap fits the bill along the defensive line. 6’6 and 27 pounds with 4.7 speed, Dunlap is one of the best athletes in the draft. On tape, he flashes brilliance at times, dominating defenses and shedding NFL talent block like they were D3 guys. The downside comes with work ethic and motor. Dunlap took plays off, and sometimes whole quarters off as a player. It gives teams pause in giving a player tons of money who may not put in the effort and has maturity issues. We have seen played like Michael Johnson last year fall due to the same issues, so Dunlap’s value is as a late 1st or early 2nd round pick. It is tough to overlook the work ethic issues, and ultimately could force him to bust out of the league.


Diagnosis: Bruce Banner


Linebacker: Sergio Kindle, Texas
Many times, a player going back for their Senior year when they could be a first round pick as a junior brings about more questions than answers. This is the situation with Sergio Kindle who seemed to digress in terms of sacks with 10 as a junior and 5.5 as a senior. This has been the biggest knock on him, though he did increase production of tackles (45 to 70,) and TFLs (12.5 to 22). Kindle is a classic blitzer who will play linebacker at the next level despite playing both DE and LB in college. He has great range and always seems to be in the backfield and pressuring the QB. If he fits a defense, Kindle could be a sack master at the next level.


Diagnosis: The Hulk


Cornerback: Patrick Robinson, Florida State
Robinson is another classic player who has all the physical talent but doesn’t seem to put it together on tape. His crowning moment was chasing down speedster Noel Devine this year in the Gator Bowl and showcasing his speed. Robinson is a big corner, reminiscent of past Seminole corners like Antonio Cromartie. With sub 4.4 speed at 6’0 and 190 pounds, Robinson’s elite physical tools may endear him to a team in the 2nd round. Will he be successful? The tape on Robinson isn’t very flattering, often getting beat and physically outmatched game after game. A team will get a player who will be a major headache at times, but will also make big plays. Ultimately, this doesn’t make him a starter in the NFL and will flounder in the league.


Diagnosis: Bruce Banner


Safety: Taylor Mays, USC
Taylor Mays’ value in the NFL draft is all over the map. Sub 4.3 speed at 6’3 and 230 pounds shows the ultimate upside. Only his head and learning the game is what stops Taylor Mays from being a Troy Polamalu type of safety in the pros. His junior year, Mays played on an amazing USC defense with now pros like Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, and Fili Moala. He tore up the college scene breaking up passes and punishing opposing runners and receivers. As a senior, Mays missed a lot of big tackles and didn’t make many plays on the ball. His future in the NFL likely is as an in the box safety who can punish anyone over the middle and make big plays in the run game. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and proper coaching could turn him into a great player. On a limb, Taylor Mays could develop into a scary safety teams will have to gameplan for.


Diagnosis: The Hulk

Shane Hallam

 See all posts by Shane Hallam.