This is definitely the most popular day at the Scouting Combine amongst the fans because it is the “sexy” day where all the important offensive skill players show off their athleticism.
Texas WR Marquise Goodwin and West Virginia WR Tavon Austin were definitely two of the most talked about guys throughout the day after they posted 4.25 unofficial 40-yard-dash times. The times were adjusted and Goodwin’s official time was a 4.27, while Tavon Austin’s was a 4.34. Either way, both of them turned head’s and Austin definitely boosted his stock. Goodwin still has questions about his ability to catch the football, but Austin turned in a great workout and it is well-documented that he can catch.
Another wide receiver getting a lot of face time is Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope. Swope showed up at the Combine and shocked people by posting a 4.34 forty yard dash time at 6’0″ 205 lbs. He also put up a 37″ vertical, and he showed that he has the athleticism to go with his extreme production out of the slot in college. It’s possible that Swope is this draft’s biggest sleeper and could be the next Wes Welker, only bigger and faster.
Runningbacks-wise Knile Davis (pictured-below) blew away everyone throughout the whole day. He had a severe broken ankle and missed all of the 2011 season, but showed it hasn’t hampered him that much. Davis and Arkansas had a very sub-par year, but Davis showed up and put in some serious work. He posted a 4.37 40-yard-dash time, did 31 reps of 225 lbs on the bench and posted a 33.5″ vertical leap. Davis showed that he has the athleticism, as well as the size (5’10” 227 lbs) to excel as a runningback at the next level. Is he a first round pick? No. But his performance at the combine makes me think he should absolutely be gone by the 4th round at worst.
Onterio McCalebb out of Auburn posted a blazing unofficial 40 time of 4.21, which was later adjusted to 4.34. If that 4.21 had stuck, he would have found his stock rising, and would have guaranteed a spot on a team as a kick returner. Another runningback of note was Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. Ball did exactly what was expected of him; he put up a 4.66 40-yard-dash, 16 reps on the bench, and a 32″ vertical. Ball was extremely productive in college and wasn’t going to be a gym rat that tested off the charts. I think this merely solidifies Ball’s stock, and if he had shown up and run slower than that, there would have been concerns.
FSU QB EJ Manuel and WVU QB Geno Smith had very good days, as well as Tennessee’s Tyler Bray. Geno Smith solidified any questions about his physical abilities and the fact that he is the #1 QB in this draft. Smith threw the ball very well with a lot of zip and accuracy, and he put up a the fastest 40-yard-dash time at 4.59. While I’m not a fan of Geno Smith as the #1 pick, he proved that he is the only quarterback to consider taking that high, and is better than his peers.
Meanwhile, Manuel continued his climb up draft boards after he has put together a very solid Senior Bowl and a very solid NFL Combine. Manuel had another good day of throwing the ball, and showed off his athleticism running a 4.65. Manuel has worked his way into the Top 3 rounds in my mind, and based on what I’ve seen out of all of the quarterbacks, I think he is the third-best QB in this draft at worst. He’s far more consistent than anyone else, and while Glennon has more potential, I’d feel more comfortable with Manuel at the helm because he isn’t a head case. Tyler Bray meanwhile turned in a great workout, showing up to the Combine in shape, and threw the ball very well. He showed that he has one of the strongest arms in this draft, and put a great deal of touch on his throws. I don’t think this means he is now going in the first three rounds of the draft, but it should alleviate any concerns of his that he might not get drafted.
The biggest story of the day though came from the defensive lineman who weren’t on the field yesterday. Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who was a projected Top 5 pick, underwent a cardiogram and it was discovered that he has a heart condition. His left ventricle of his heart only operates at 44%, which is a major problem. His NFL future is now in jeopardy and you have to feel bad for the kid. On the bright side, if it weren’t for the combine, who knows if this would have ever been discovered, so this could have saved his life.