The Combine Report: 2015 NFL Regional Combine (Baltimore) – Defense

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Owings Mills, MD – With the 2015 NFL Regional Combine experience nearing its conclusion and spots being filled for the NFL Super Regional Combine in Arizona, the session in Owings Mills at the Under Armour Performance Center, where the Baltimore Ravens nest, was extremely important.

The NFL National scouts zeroed in on their tasks to provide the league with the best, overlooked talent. The Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers were represented with a few of their scouts with their eyes on the 40-yard dash drill. And the players were intense and focused knowing their moment had arrived.

Charles Cook/

Charles Cook/

Then, upbeat Ravens head coach John Harbaugh walked in saying, “It’s a great day for football, is it not? You know why it’s a great day for football? Cause it’s always a great day for football.”

The Super Bowl winning coach went on to address and encourage the players.

“Congratulations to you guys for being here. One thing about success, it’s usually wrapped up with persistence. It’s usually the guy who’s gonna go a little bit longer, who’s a little bit tougher and who wants it a little bit more, is that right? Isn’t that the way it works? We got a thing up there behind you, way up the top if you can see, anybody notice that before? That sign, what does that sign say? It says W.I.N, is that what it says?”

A player stated, “It says what’s important now?”

Harbaugh responds:

“Whoa, who said that? What school did you go to?  Did you have that at Marshall? So it says W.I.N, but it also says how to WIN.  And the W.I.N. with the periods, is that an acronym, is that what that is? It’s stands for What’s Important Now.  And what that means is, ultimately if you want to take care of business and you want to be successful, you take care of What’s Important Now, this minute.

So many times we get caught up in what was important before , what we thought about in the past or what’s gonna happen in the future. And we don’t take care of business right now. Right?  This day.  Whether it’s a workout or whatever it may be. Sometimes, it’s just taking care of your family.  Sometimes, it’s taking care of your business, ok?

So, today all you gotta do is go out there and be your best self. Whatever you are, whatever you do well, do that well, ok? And whatever is not your strength, just be your best at that and try to get better at it every single day.  And see where it takes you.

In the end it will take you to victory, ok?  So, be enthusiastic cause football is a team game, right? Support one another, have one another’s back, get fired up and do your best alright.

We’ll have fun watching you.  Good luck!

The intense mood of the training facility was quickly lifted and relax, but the business of W.I.N was at hand laced with confidence, instead of nervousness.

Cleshawn Page/

Cleshawn Page/

The defensive backs filled half the room with 40 participants, and while many were anxious, Cleshawn Page of Boise State never cracked a smile. Page said he was all about “business” entering the workouts, and while waiting patiently for his number to be called wearing blue sweats to stay warm and loose, the 5-9, 178-pound cornerback aggressively attacked his drills with a rapid pace.

Denzel Rice of Coastal Carolina took off his socks to burn the 40-yard dash and performed with good balance.

L.J. Stroman of UNCP showed great control and balance, especially in his Short Shuttle Drill, throughout the day and cleared his broad jump by 10-feet.

Virginia State safety Andre Rawls stuck to his training and performed his exercises extremely well, and flat out killed the Short Shuttle.

Darien Rankin of North Carolina is a pure safety as he possesses a combination of speed and power. Due to injuries on the Tar Heels squad last season, Rankin volunteered to play as a linebacker. Although Rankin didn’t have a bad senior year, he never second guess his decision to move to the linebacker position for the team.  The 5-11, 200-pound North Carolina native felt if he played his natural position, scouts would not overlooked him.

Hopefully, the scouts won’t look past him after his solid session on Saturday.

The Ivy League was represented well by Yale’s Charles Cook. The 6-3, 215-pound Texas native played both the safety and linebacker positions. Cook was one of the few defensive backs from Saturday who displayed good hands. Cook is fast, big, but remains light on his feet. He was pretty much the complete package.

Another sharp player was linebacker Isaiah Fleming from Cheyney University. Fleming displayed great balance, especially in his Four Bag Agility, Pass Rush and Wave Drills. The Division II All-American used his low center of gravity to explode from his legs and posted a decent 40-yard dash.

Ray Bush/

Ray Bush/

Linebackers Ray Bush (Toledo) and Aaron Roane (Richmond) displayed decent 40-yard dashes. Bush, who stands 6-3, 235-pounds, has great balance for his size.

Dion O’Joe of Southern Connecticut State is an athlete. He is a tower of a man who split positions at linebacker and safety. O’Joe stands 6-4, 215-pounds moves like deer. Prior to the NFL Regional Combine, he clocked at 4.46 for the 40-yard dash.

Saturday, O’Joe was polished as he demonstrated his ability to catch and moved with purpose by keeping his footing and staying balanced.

Harbaugh was pleased with what he witnessed and loved what the NFL is doing with the Regional Combine.

“There’s a lot of talent out there,” said Harbaugh. “Through the Combine, this Combine, we are able to find that talent better. I really like what’s going on here.”

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