NFL Combine: Sunday’s Highlights and Surprises

Day 2 of the NFL Combine was the day that probably gets the most attention and ratings, the day of the Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Wide Receivers. This is the group that you get your playmakers from. The offensive framework of how you want your team to look is found on the field on this day. Even though QBs Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M didn’t throw today, it was still good to see players like Blake Bortles of UFC out there. Also today, we got a chance to see a challenger to Chris Johnson’s official NFL Combine forty time record of 4.24 as someone came within .02 of it.

Quarterback Highlights:

AJ McCarron, of Alabama, who went back and forth deciding as to whether he was going to throw or not, actually threw, and threw well. Comments from Mike Mayock of NFL Network said, “He throws a very catchable ball.” Another highlight for the QBs was Logan Thomas, of Virginia Tech. He threw the ball with good zip and showed good accuracy today, to go along with the fast forty time of all the QBs, with 4.61. With his size at 6’6 248 lbs, coaches can easily fall I love with his measurements, but they must beware, as there is always a “workout warrior” that fool’s everyone every year, ala Stephen Hill.

Quarterback Surprises:

Blake Bortles, even though he was good, was a bit slower than expected with a 4.91 forty and didn’t show as much zip as people anticipated, although it was enough to pass for a true starter. Also, on the deep throws, he made some beautiful throws, uncatchable to anyone but his own WR. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois was also a good surprise today. He had a forty time of 4.76, 6th of all QBs, his 3 cone time of 6.55 was faster than any other QB, and his 20 yard shuttle was tied for 3rd at 4.20. By the end of the day, he was actually being compared side by side with Johnny Manziel. That alone will tell you how much his stock will be rising.

Running Back Highlights:

First, let me note that Carlos Hyde pulled a hamstring on his 1st forty run, so he was quickly done for the day. However, there was 1 highlight that stood out above all today and it was the forty time of Dri Archer from Kent State. Everyone had a feeling that Archer would be fast, but most thought in the 4.3 range. Archer lit the combine track up with a 4.26, the 2nd fastest time in NFL Combine history to Chris Johnson’s 4.24 (electronic clock era). It does show how impressive Chris Johnson ‘s time was that he did his time at 199 lbs while most of the people that are near to his time, like Archer, are around 175 lbs. Question on Archer will be his position on the next level, probably similar to Dexter McCluster.

Running Back Surprises:

Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern had a big showing today with the 2nd fastest forty time with a 4.41, had the most Bench Press reps of any RB with 32 reps, had the 2nd best broad jump with 132 inches, 2nd best vertical with 40.5 inches, showed good hands in the catching drill, and flashed good cutting ability out of the backfield with the reaction drill. It was just an unbelievable showing for him. De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon was another person I thought could give Chris Johnson a scare, but he only had a 4.50 forty and as expected, only have 8 reps on the Bench Press, lowest of any RB that did the drill.

Wide Receiver Highlights:

Brandon Cooks of Oregon State had the fastest forty time of all the WRs with a 4.33, the fastest 20 yard shuttle with 3.81, and the fastest 60 yard shuttle with 10.72. His quickness projects him out to be a slot WR on the next level. Sammy Watkins of Clemson ran a 4.43, which was a little slow than most thought he would. Even though he received glowing remarks from everyone, he still must show more in his route running since most of his catches last year came from screen passes. I also agree with Michael Irvin that he sometimes telegraphs his routes, you can’t do that in the NFL. Mike Evans of Alabama was very impressive overall today with his 4.53 forty and showed great hands, it solidifies him in the top 11-13.

Wide Receiver Surprises:

Three guys stood out to me today, all not for good reasons. Donte Moncrief of Mississippi ran a 4.40 forty, which was 3rd best of all WRs, he had a 39.5 inch vertical, which was also 3rd of all WRs, and he also had the best broad jump of anyone with 132 inches. Kevin Norwood of Alabama definitely caught my eye with a solid forty at 4.48, he showed very good hands in the passing drills and at 6’2 and 198 lbs, he has solid size and has the frame to get bigger. The 1 person who was a big disappointment today was Allen Robinson of Penn State. He ran a slow forty of 4.60, and on the catching drill he dropped a couple passes and leaned in to routes. He looked very lethargic today.

Today was a great day to see some of the exciting future NFL playmakers. As now all the offensive players are done, tomorrow we will turn our attention to the defensive side. The Defensive Line and the Linebackers will both be on the field tomorrow, led by DE Jadeveon Clowney, OLBs Khalil Mack, and OLB Anthony Barr. It may not be as exciting, but as they always say and Seattle Seahawks proved it, “Defense Wins Championships”.

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