With Super Bowl LII officially in the books, the National Football League already begins to look at its 2018 season and it starts with the Scouting Combine. As we leave February we head into the Ides of March – sort of. You see, the NFL will begin its new season with its annual convergence on Indianapolis, Indiana for the NFL Scouting Combine. Rather than settle debts, they will place new ones on a crop of new talent seeking entrance into the league. The combine is where a select group of college players are invited to showcase their skills in a variety of physical and mental tests in front of all 32 NFL franchises. The ultimate job interview.
Some of those tests include the bench press, 40-yard dash, shuttle run and the infamous Wonderlic exam. This select group of players will also meet individually with each team and interact with media covering the event.
Out of the 200 or so athletes that have been invited to this year’s combine, a trinity of Latino players will arrive at this year’s combine to make their case for suiting up on Sundays. Here are the Latino players who will showcase their talents in Indianapolis.
University of Miami, Wide Receiver
Berrios was an impact player from the start in South Florida. He caught double-digit passes every year he wore the Hurricanes uniform, but it was his senior year in which he made the biggest impact. In 2017, the North Carolina native of Puerto Rican descent led the Canes’ with 55 catches for 679 yards and nine touchdowns. Berrios was a core player that guided Miami to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division championship, and a technical home game as they were selected to play in the Orange Bowl which their stadium hosts at season’s end.
While Berrios was a go-to player for the Hurricanes, his small stature (5-foot-9, 186 pounds) projects him a slot receiver similar to the likes of Julian Edelman and Jordy Nelson. He’s expected to be a second-round draft pick in April.
Texas-El Paso, Offensive Lineman
Although the Miners were the only winless (0-12) team in the Football Bowl Subdivision last year, numbers can be deceiving. Hernandez anchored an offensive line that paved the way for a team that gained 2,766 total yards, scored 16 total touchdowns, and averaged a combined 11 yards per play. The shelf life of an NFL lineman is a short one, and protecting the quarterback has become more important than ever.
Offensive lineman are in demand in 2018, and Hernandez could be the first one selected in this year’s draft. Need more convincing, one NFC area scout told NFL.com of Hernandez “He’s exactly what you are looking for in terms of his work ethic and how much he loves the game. He will clique instantly in the offensive line room and he will be one of the strongest and toughest guys on the team as soon as he makes the roster.”
University of Florida, Kicker
Born in Miami to Cuban immigrants, Pineiro’s work ethic was instilled by his parents and he carried that over to the football field. While wearing the Gators uniform Pineiro converted 38-of-43 field goal attempts, 56-of-58 extra point attempts, and scored a total of 170 points. His 94.4% success rate in 2017 led the nation. Just how good is Pineiro, essentially the best kicker in the history of the Gators program. And it’s a program with a lot of history. His precise accuracy has long caught the attention of NFL scouts, so much so that Pineiro decided to enter this year’s draft after just two seasons in Gainesville.
The market for kickers isn’t too big for 2018, but for the teams looking to add talent at this position, Pineiro is very high on their lists.
For these three men, this is just the beginning of a long process leading up to the NFL Draft.
If you liked this article check these out: The Latino Men Changing the Face of College Football; The Gridiron Gang…Latinos Changing the Face of College Football