NFL Scouting Combine Report-Day Two
Written by Curt Popejoy on 02/27/2012
I am typically a stream of consciousness kind of guy. I see something and I comment on it. Thanks to Twitter I can now share these ramblings with the world in real time. But even I have limits. The NFL Scouting Combine is that limit. First off, I don’t watch it live. I can appreciate anyone who can, but my weekends revolve around my family and not sitting for 5 hours listening to Mike Mayock carpet bomb my frontal lobe with clichés and endless commercial breaks between drills. Thank God for the DVR, because I can watch them at my pace and avoid the nonsense that has overtaken the combine. The drawback is I cannot comment in real time. It seems silly to post that I think RG3 looked really fast 9 hours after he runs the 40. So instead I sit and I watch and I make notes, and God willing my thoughts are slightly more coherent than they are when I just hammer them out onto the interwebs via Twitter.
Quarterbacks-Another day of unfulfilled dreams. Having Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III at the Combine was great. Seeing them both run really well was that candy the stranger offers you, but neither of them throwing is the tear stained mattress in the back of his van. Then you figure in the guy most consider either the 3rd or 4th best quarterback, Ryan Tennehill didn’t show up at all, and what you have left is a lot of middle of the road players who are hoping to do well enough to get them overdrafted. And I think a couple of them did just that.
First is Kirk Cousins. I don’t put a tremendous amount of value on guys throwing to other guys with no pressure in shorts, but when it comes to what you can take from these drills, Cousins looked good. He had a lot of zip on his throws, looked like he had gotten stronger on his deep throws and compared to all the quarterbacks who threw today he looked the most prepared of any.
Russell Wilson is another. He’s small. And he’s probably not a starter in the league. But he’s got some heat on his throws, shows really nice touch and when you figure in his athleticism there should be a role for him on an NFL team.
Brandon Weeden is a guy who I still think ultimately will fall in the draft not because he can’t play, but because he’s going to be 29 in his rookie season. He didn’t wow me today, but he didn’t nothing to hurt himself either.
Jordan Jefferson was impressive in the fact he throws the ball hard. And seems he makes Mike Mayock hard as well as he couldn’t gush enough about him. Jefferson looks lost if he doesn’t have a big window to throw in.
I have to mention Aaron Corp as I wrote about him earlier in the week. He is what we thought he was. Lots of raw athleticism and no polish on the apple. 2 years at Richmond really held him back and it showed in drills.
Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Jacory Harris, Darron Thomas and Kellen Moore were consistent and really didn’t show anything new. Keenum is soft, like Harris. Thomas is raw and Moore is a very smart player who’s a little short on the physical gifts. More of guys who need game film to properly evaluate.
A final note on Quarterbacks. 2-6 in this draft are really up in the air. And because of that paired with a tremendous need for quarterbacks means all these guys are going to go too soon. Other than maybe Cousins, there isn’t another quarterback I saw today that has a lot of long term potential especially not as a starter.
Wide Receivers-This is a group that is always interesting. Players are getting bigger and stronger every year while staying fast This year was no different. Some of these guys are freakishly muscular. It used to be you wanted your wide outs a little leaner so they can be quick and get separation. But in today’s NFL they protect wide outs so much it’s ok if you can’t get away from the DB. Just be built like a linebacker force some contact and get the penalty. Eventually the secondary will just give you enough cushion to make the play.
Overall I thought this group showed themselves well with one caveat. Is that over the shoulder site adjustment really so hard that almost every wide out screwed it up? In a bigger sense it seemed like several of the wideouts today had a tendency to look for the ball too soon, which gives up on the route. In the NFL that let’s DBs jump routes and make plays. Specifically these guys stood out to me, bad or good.
Justin Blackmon-The best prospect in the draft. I love that he’s not overly muscled but he’s game strong. He sticks his foot in the ground, makes great cuts with no wasted choppy steps and catches the ball with his hands and has strong hands. So much potential.
Chris Owusu-Not only did he do well in the triangle numbers, he looked as sharp and polished as any wide out at the combine. One of the defenses of Andrew Luck is that he does it without elite talent around him, but I would consider Owusu elite for sure. Tragically medical flags(concussions) will push him way down in the draft.
Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech-Obviously very few expected Hill to come out with the size he has and run the way he did. I don't look at other draft sites, but I have had Hill in my top 15 rankings for 2 months. Be curious if any of the draftniks on my Twitter feed who were talking him up yesterday did. I am betting not. So much of what we do is reactionary it's nice to be onboard early. What was more useful to see was that Hill looked solid in position drills as well. The kid caught fewer than 30 balls last year so good luck on film on him.
Devon Wylie, Fresno State-Another guy I've been talking up since before the season ended and he didn't disappoint. Wylie isn't a No. 1 wide out, but as a slot guy his ability to get in and out of the breaks with as few a steps as possible and with explosion is invaluable. Great active hands and deceptive speed.
A couple of guys who disappointed me were Joe Adams from Arkansas and Dwight Jones from North Carolina. They both looked lost in drills and had really sloppy hands. Lazy hands, letting the ball get into your body too much is career suicide.
I know people are puzzled about Kendall Wright and his last of 40 time speed. Let me explain something to you. I don't believe those numbers are an aberration at all. What I saw from Wright last season were lots of long catches when he was wide open. Which I think that Wright is fast and does play fast, I think he also benefited from a dominant group of skills players at quarterback and running back and in my humble opinion I think a good portion of those wide open plays were a product of defenses biting on run fakes and over committing to stopping RG3 and the run game.
Running Backs-This group is probably the most underrated unit in the entire draft. There may not be an Adrian Peterson in this group, but I have a feeling there will still be a couple of first round picks and a whole load of guys going in the 2nd and 3rd round. Running backs are almost a disposable position in the NFL and so keeping young talent on an NFL roster at the position is a must. A few guys did themselves a service by their performance on Sunday.
LaMichael James, Oregon-I do not understand why more people like James like I do. He's fast, he's explosive, he's nimble and what he showed on Sunday was he can catch the football. If you are a team who needs a viable threat out of the backfield to catch passes and score touchdowns, you want James on your team.
Chris Rainey, Florida-Lump him in with James. Another super versitile guy who can line up in the backfield, split out wide and return kicks. In a league that continues to emphasize quick strikes especially in the passing game, Rainey could be a star.
Robert Turbin, Utah State-Consider him sort of the anti-LaMichael James and Chris Rainey. He's a bruiser who's big and strong and looked like he was carved out of granite. He basically feasted on mediocre teams and so how he can play against top tier defenses week after week will be interesting, but he certainly passes the eyeball test.
Doug Martin, Boise State-Another guy who hits on all the measureables. He didn't wow me in the drills, but no screw ups either.
Trent Richardson, Alabama-Richardson is the man at RB. He's built low to the ground, looks like a pro bodybuilder and can do a little of everything. He didn't show it because he's recovering from Knee surgery but make no mistake, if he were healthy he'd have shown everyone why he's the best back in the draft.
All in all there were no backs that really stunk it up except for Marc Tyler. He looked out of shape and completely out of sorts in drills. You have to wonder why he came in so far from ready but when you consider his history I suppose it's no surprise at all.
This was a good combine day, even if Luck and Griffin didn't throw. When it comes to skill players the NFL has a nice crop of players to pick from. A day likes this makes having to sit through the day of offensive linemen and tight ends all worth it.
Last Edited: 02/27/2012