Joey Mbu's stock was flying high after the Senior Bowl, with scouts raving about his ability.
No, not that ability. One AFC defensive line coach noted that Houston's coaches raved about his leadership skills and personal characteristics. But after a lackluster showing at the Scouting Combine, what are Mbu's chances of making an NFL roster, let alone getting drafted?
Mbu received high marks for his performance during Senior Bowl practices. Former Cleveland Browns general manager and current Senior Bowl executive Phil Savage listed him as one of the defensive lineman prospects with "potential starter upside." That all may have come crashing down after his Combine performance.
Joey Mbu specifically told the media at the Combine his adaptability -- he played for three different defensive coordinators in three season who all difference systems -- is one of his key areas of strength. He has the ability to play inside in a 4-3, most likely as a nose tackle or as an end in a 3-4 system. Mbu also gets credited as a hard worker, one of those play to the whistle types that coaches desire.
He also has a long frame (35 inch arms), which comes in handy on the defensive line (just ask J.J. Watt). He also draws a lot of comparisons to current Houston Texans nose tackle Jerrell Powe, who's a spot starter and rotational contributor on one of the NFL's best defensive fronts.
His combine was ... not so good.
Mbu graded out at a 5.16, which the NFL lists as a score for better than average prospects to make an NFL roster. His 40 time -- a 5.54 -- is flat out bad and won't inspire confidence in anybody. It would be different if he had nose tackle size or strength, but at 6-3 and 313 pounds he's not exactly a giant when it comes to play as a nose tackle.
Scouts worry about his ability to pass rush or stop the run, which are pretty much all a defensive lineman's expected to do. Those following defensive lineman, such as SB Nation's New York Giants blog Big Blue View, noticed his poor vertical jump numbers -- 22.5 inches -- also hurt his stock when compared to other defensive lineman.
The Combine performance may have dented his stock and dropped Mbu from third-day pick to undrafted training camp invitee. Mbu still has a pro day on March 26 so he could bring it back up there, and it's important to remember that the Combine's not everything. He still has impressive game tape and high grades for work rate and character from coaches and scouts alike.
KHOU 11 said he met with some teams pre-Combine -- specifically mentioning the New England Patriots -- so there is interest. At the very least the Texans should give him a call for training camp. He's already in town and the Texans' top two nose tackles are free agents.
We'll get a much better picture after the Cougar's Pro Day.