Luke Falk, Cole Madison, Tavares Martin Jr. and Hercules Mata'afa all worked out for scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that ended on Monday. Here's how they fared.
Quarterback Luke Falk, offensive lineman Cole Madison, receiver Tavares Martin Jr. and edge defender Hercules Mata’afa represented Washington State at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that concluded on Monday.
Here’s a brief look back at how they did.
Looking ahead, the following draft eligible Cougars prospects will gather in Pullman this Thursday at WSU’s Pro Day: Daniel Ekuale, Luke Falk, Dylan Hanser, Robert Lewis, Frankie Luvu, Cole Madison, Hercules Mata’afa, Garrett McBroom, Jamal Morrow, Cody O’Connell, Kirkland Parker, Marcellus Pippins, Erik Powell, Robert Taylor and Gerard Wicks.
QB Luke Falk
Measurements: 6-4, 215 pounds, 32-inch arms, 9 1/4-inch hands
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Falk managed 26.5-inches on the vertical jump — second last among the quarterbacks, just in front of Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph — and 103-inches on the broad jump, tied with Toledo’s Logan Woodside for third-last among the quarterbacks. Falk did not run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis.
But hey, he was never going to wow folks with his drill statistics. Falk’s greatest strengths have always been his ability to throw with anticipation, and his football IQ.
Falk missed several throws during QB-WR drills in Indy, but, as NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock acknowledged during Saturday’s broadcast of the quarterbacks’ workout, scouts and NFL executives watch more for technique and fundamentals at the combine than they do for completions because there’s an understanding that the quarterbacks and receivers are working together for the first time.
As he did for most of last season, Falk wore a black glove on his left non-throwing hand at the combine. During his senior season, the glove was there, he admitted to reporters, “just to hide my cast.” Falk wore a brace at the combine, and said he’ll get the brace off in a couple weeks. That’s part of the reason why he will put on a full workout for scouts at Utah State’s Pro Day in Logan, Utah, on March 28. However, Falk will be present in Pullman this Thursday at WSU’s Pro Day though he will not work out there.
- Falk told reporters that between the Senior Bowl and the combine, he’s met “informally” with all 32 NFL teams.
- By way of explaining the glove on his left hand, Falk said, “The glove was just to hide my cast. I will never wear one on my right. I like the feel of the ball in my throwing hand. I keep wearing the glove just so I can have a better grip. Sometimes, it is tough to grip the ball. I try to emulate (Tom) Brady. He is the best at what he does and he is a good guy to try to model your game after.”
- Much was made of Falk’s well-publicized adoration of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. More than one media outlet that covers the Patriots has begun to tout Falk as a suitable successor to Brady.
- Falk is a classic pocket passer. He will never make headlines with his speed or athleticism, but here’s his response to questions about whether he’s lacking in that department. Mobility, Falk says, is “how you extend plays.”
“People say ‘mobile,’ and it can be two things. It can be you are out on the run making plays with your legs or you can be like Brady and Philip (Rivers) and those guys that play at a high level. They make subtle, little quick movements in the pocket and I think that’s what I try to emulate my game after.”
OL Cole Madison
Measurements: 6-5, 308 pounds, 32 1/4-inch arms, 10 3/8-inch hands
Madison, a former high school tight end, showed at the combine that his athleticism is one of his biggest assets. Mayock liked what he saw, calling the Cougars’ right tackle a player who “pops out of his stance” and predicting, “I think he’s going to be a starting guard.”
Madison did most of the combine tests and participated in the offensive line drills. He did well enough, finishing in the top-20 among the offensive linemen in almost every combine event. Madison clocked a respectable 5.33 in the 40-yard dash, managed an impressive 26 reps in the 225-pound bench press (tied for seventh among the OL), hit 28.5-inches in the vertical jump (tied for eighth among the OL), ran the 3-cone drill in 7.86 and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.88.
- Madison looked trimmer at the combine than he did in his senior season at WSU. He weighed in about six pounds lighter than the weight he began the 2017 season at (314 pounds) and looked lean and athletic.
- Asked to answer the question, “What’s one thing you can do better than every other player here?” Madison, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, responded: “If we had skeet shooting out here, I’d be first round, first pick, no hesitation. It’d be a no brainer. It’s all I did in college, just go out shooting with the boys.”
WR Tavares Martin Jr.
Measurements: 6-1, 177 pounds, 32 1/8-inch arms, 9 1/8-inch hands
As a smaller receiver with character concerns, Martin Jr. needed to wow scouts with his test scores at the NFL Combine to raise his draft stock. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen.
Martin Jr.’s 4.8 40-yard dash time was slow, and not just for a receiver — even his WSU teammate, defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa ran a faster 40-yard dash, clocking 4.76.
Martin Jr. didn’t do any better on the vertical jump, registering 31.5 inches — fourth-worst of all receivers who performed that test at the combine.
At this point, you could argue that he would have been better off staying in school. Martin Jr. was cut from the team this winter for missing team activities, but he could have transferred to an FCS program and played right away. Instead, he opted to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the draft early.
EDGE Hercules Mata’afa
Measurements: 6-1, 254 pounds, 31 1/2-inch arms, 10 1/4-inch hands
Mata’afa impressed with his raw strength and quickness at the combine — both of which have always been strengths. He tied for third among all edge defenders with 26 reps of the 225-pound bench press, was eighth in the three-cone drill, with a 7.24 time, and sixth on the 20-yard shuttle at 4.37 seconds. He also ran a solid 40 yard dash of 4.76 seconds — 10th among all edge defenders.
Because of his size, Mata’afa will have to move outside from the defensive tackle position he played in college. But his pass rushing abilities make him a tantalizing prospect for teams looking to add some athleticism to their defense.
- Mata’afa knows he’ll have to answer questions about his unique blend of talents because any team that drafts him will have to teach him to play a different position. But as he told reporters at the combine:
“I think I’m the most versatile pass-rusher in this draft. You can line me up anywhere and I can rush the passer. My get-off is the fastest in this draft, and I have a lot of upside to my ability. I think coaches take notice of that.”
- Which position does Mata’afa see himself playing in the NFL? Any position in the front seven of a defense, he says. There is some evidence to back up this confidence Mata’afa espouses. He moved around a lot in his WSU career, playing defensive end as a sophomore before moving to tackle in 2017. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with that transition, so perhaps he’ll be able to learn outside linebacker fairly quickly? Maybe someone needs to ask former WSU rush linebackers coach Roy Manning for his opinion on the matter.
“I’m a playmaker, man. I think I do best with my hand in the dirt, D-end, but I can play outside linebacker if duty calls. … I have experience playing D-end in college. I played it in 2016. I feel like I can play any position. I just love getting after the football and getting after the quarterback, it doesn’t matter where I’m at.”