clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Illinois' Jihad Ward, Geronimo Allison, Josh Ferguson participate in the 2016 NFL Draft Combine

Recapping the performance of all three Fighting Illini players.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

When you consider that 256 total players are drafted in the NFL Draft annually, it is almost embarrassing that the University of Illinois has not seen a player selected since 2013.  That trend will end soon, however, as three athletes were invited to the 2016 NFL Combine: Geronimo Allison, Josh Ferguson, and Jihad Ward.

The way that the NFL grades the Combine participants is on a ten point scale, with the higher the score signifying the more estimated talent a player has.

Geronimo Allison, a 6'3" wide receiver, was given a grade of 4.86. So while he didn't have the most stellar Combine, it shouldn't cause his draft stock to fall by a considerable amount.

40 Yard Dash

4.67 Seconds

Vertical Jump

33 Inches

Broad Jump

127 Inches

3 Cone Drill

7.40 Seconds

20 Yard Shuttle

4.28 Seconds

60 Yard Shuttle

11.54 Seconds

Allison's results, in my opinion, are just that.  Results.  You really can't judge someone going off their ‘workout numbers'.  For reference, Allison performed better in almost every category (aside from 40 yard dash, 3 cone drill) than Panthers stud wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.  Allison received high praise for his performance in the Shrine Game, and caused Bucky Brooks from NFL.com to say the following:

"Illinois WR Geronimo Allison has been the most impressive player at East-West Shrine Game practices. He is a fluid athlete with a nice combination of balance, body control and agility. As a precise route runner, Allison has consistently gotten open and displayed strong hands when snatching the ball out of the air. If he performs to the level that he has shown throughout the week, he could walk away with some hardware at the end of the game."

Allison may not be drafted, but will almost certainly receive a training camp invite from a team looking for a receiver with the skills to fight through defenders and has shown great leadership in his college career.

Josh Ferguson stands in at 5'9" and 198 pounds, but don't let the small stature dismay you.  Ferguson has been an invaluable part of the Illini offense for four straight seasons.

40 Yard Dash

4.48 Seconds

Bench Press

21 Reps

Vertical Jump

34.5 Inches

Broad Jump

120 Inches

While Josh never was able to hit the 1,000 yards rushing plateau in his career, he did reach 1,000 combined in 2013 and 2014, while falling 12 yards short in his senior campaign.  Ferguson has always been a small, quick back who can make defenders miss with the best of them.  Josh would dazzle fans at Illinois, and would dismay the opposition.  Lance Zierlein, of NFL.com, put it this way:

"Electric short-area acceleration from one of the most ‘sudden' backs in this draft...Dangerous weapon in the passing game...Can adjust to difficult throws in space and has desired hands to become a factor from the slot."

Fergusons numbers can draw comparisons to Darren Sproles, both on size and skill set.  Ferguson will likely be someone that could see a sixth or seventh round selection.

In my opinion, Jihad Ward is the most likely to see his name called at the 2016 NFL Draft.  Coming in at 6'5" and 297 pounds, Ward has the athletic ability of guys with a much smaller frame.  He is quick and has the potential to be a solid pass rush piece.

40 Yard Dash

5.11 Seconds

Bench Press

20 Reps

Vertical Jump

25 Inches

Broad Jump

110 Inches

3 Cone Drill

7.38 Seconds

20 Yard Shuttle

4.63 Seconds

Ward is a very gifted and talented athlete.  Rob Rang of cbssports.com said this of Ward:

"Despite a frame perhaps better suited to playing inside at defensive tackle, the 6-foot-5, 296 pound Ward enjoyed much of his success Wednesday at right defensive end, slicing inside would-be blockers to force running backs and quarterbacks, alike, to alter their plans."

Ward could be someone that is taken in the third round based purely on his potential.

All in all, the Illini NFL Draft drought will end this year.  With recent changes in the football structure, I can only expect to see more positive outcomes.