The highly touted quarterbacks never seem to throw at the NFL Combine and they always miss an opportunity. Throwing at the Combine will not make or break your draft prospects, but I feel like it’s strange that they never throw. If you’re the best, why not go out and prove?
Blake Bortles was the only one of the four highest rated quarterbacks to throw at the Combine and this is a big win for him. He didn’t shy away from the competition and got a chance to show off his skills while Jonny Manziel, Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater just hung out. At least Manziel and Derek Carr did all of the measurable drills. This isn’t an uncommon thing though, Andrew Luck and RG3 didn’t throw. But the quarterbacks are only throwing around 20 passes, in shorts, and NFL evaluators don’t even care if the passes are complete because they know you’re not familiar with the receivers. So why not throw?
Blake Bortles had one of the best days at quarterback, running a 4.93 40 and putting up a 32.5″ vertical leap. He had some throws that got away from him, which is evident on his game tape, but he puts good zip on the ball and moves well in the pocket.
Outside of Bortles having a very solid day, I thought that Logan Thomas was a big winner. He is still a major project as a quarterback, but his measurables and flashes of ability show that he is worth a top four round pick. If a team with an established quarterback and good coaching staff picks up Thomas, he might actually develop into a startable quarterback. I mean hell, Thomas is 6’6″ 248 lbs and he ran a 4.61 40 and had a 35.5″ vertical leap. That is an explosive athlete and quite frankly, Thomas could make one hell of a tight end. He has a cannon arm with serious accuracy and footwork issues, but he has potential.
The other quarterback I was impressed with was A.J. McCarron. No he didn’t do anything special athletically, running a 4.94 40 with a 28″ vertical leap, but he did a very good job on all of his throws. He was very comfortable dropping back in the pocket and hit all of his receivers in stride during the drill. He may have seemed like only a “game manager” at Alabama, but he’s a pretty solid quarterback.
Day two of the Combine is one of the fans favorite days and understandably so. The wide receivers and running backs get to show off their speed and it’s fun to watch.
I thought there were a lot of receivers that had good days to help their stock, and quite frankly, that’s because this is the deepest wide receiver draft that I’ve ever seen in my life. It is a good time to need wide receivers.
Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans solidified himself as the second best receiver in this draft, and his 4.53 40 time at 6’4 1/2″ is going to make him a hot commodity. Adding in the fact that he has a 37″ vertical with 35 1/8″ arms gives him an absolutely massive catch radius. He’s a bit stiff running his routes some times, but that’s something that you can coach and you can’t teach a guy to be almost 6’5″ and run a 4.53 40. Evans would look awfully nice in Honolulu Blue lining up opposite of Calvin Johnson, since there is no chance they get Sammy Watkins.
Speaking of Sammy Watkins, this kid is a stud. Sure, he may not have run in the 4.3’s, but a 4.43 with 16 reps on the bench and a 34″ vertical is simply checking off the boxes. He did have a drop in the gauntlet drill but that’s not a big deal. Watkins is a playmaker and teams are going to get him in space and he will wreak havoc.
Coaches hate the gauntlet drill because the receivers throw the ball away quickly, but I like to see how quickly guys can find each pass and if they can make the catch away from their body. Two guys that had good days, and good gauntlets, were John Brown and Martavis Bryant had very strong Combines. Both are physical freaks and are good at catching the ball. Brown went to a small school called Pittsburg State and is someone I had never heard of until the Combine. But you can guarantee that I’m going back and looking at game film on him now after he came in at 5’10” and ran a 4.34 40 with a 36.5″ vertical leap. He looked very smooth catching the football and has a gear that most guys do not have. Martavis Bryant, meanwhile, played at Clemson with Sammy Watkins and seemed to fly under the radar because of the attention Watkins commanded. Bryant came in and measured in at 6’3 1/2″ and ran a 4.42 40 while putting up 16 reps on the bench and added a 39″ vertical leap. Bryant also looked good running routes and did a good job catching the football away from his body. Bryant is a guy that would also look great in a Lions uniform and he is also a perfect example of the depth in this receiver class.
Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee certified themselves as worthy of a 1st round pick during their time at the Combine. Cooks flew during the 40 and posted a 4.33 at 5’9″ with 16 reps on the bench and a 36″ vertical leap. He may be small, but he can fly on the field and has solid hands. Meanwhile, Lee didn’t have a great 40 time, posting a 4.52 40. That being said, Lee has football speed and his tape doesn’t lie. On top of that, he is a phenomenal route runner with elite hands. Lee also has a 38″ vertical leap, and the only reason that 4.52 is a bad time for him, while Evans 4.53 is a “good time” is the fact that Lee is only 5’11”. That being said, Lee is going to make his quarterback next year very happy.
The last three receivers I’m going to talk about who had good days are Odell Beckham Jr., Jordan Matthews, and Donte Moncrief, because I could keep going but it would just be insane. Beckham Jr. and Jordan Matthews have certainly been discussed as first round possibilities, but more likely they will make someone at the top of the second round very happy. Beckham Jr. posted a 4.43 40 with a 38.5″ vertical and is a very explosive athlete. He’s not physical, posting only 7 reps on the bench, but he is a high-quality deep threat. Matthews came in at 6’3″ and tacked on a 4.46 40 with 21 reps on the bench and 35.5″ vertical. He had some drop issues at the Senior Bowl, but they didn’t come up at the Combine. Matthews is the all-time leading wide receiver in the SEC for a reason, and that’s because he is a stud. Donte Moncrief has had a bit more of a quiet emergence, but he can play. Moncrief posted a 4.40 40 at 6’2″ and added 13 reps on the bench and a 39.5″ vertical. He looked very smooth coming in and out of his breaks and did a good job catching the football with his hands and not with his body.
The only receiver that I was really disappointed with was Jarvis Landry. He posted a 4.77 40 his first time up and then didn’t run again because he hurt himself on the first run. I give him credit because apparently he had to be held out of drills by the medical staff because he kept wanting to play. That being said, a 4.77 is dreadfully bad and it will be interesting to see what he posts at his Pro Day. Plenty of people want to know how much of that slow 40 time was due to injury. Two other receivers that aren’t very noteworthy, but had bad days, were Chris Boyd and Josh Stewart. Boyd lined up opposite Jordan Matthews at Vandy before getting kicked off the team for helping to cover up a rape and posted a 4.73 40 at 6’4″. I’m not sure that’s the kind of guy you want on your team, let alone when he is that slow. Josh Stewart from Oklahoma State had a rough day in his own right, posting a 4.69 40 at 5’9″. He added 11 reps on the bench with a 35″ vertical, but the bottom line is, if you’re going to be 5’9″ you have to be much faster than that.
Other notable wide receivers with good Combines: Jeremy Gallon, Kelvin Benjamin, Paul Richardson, Jeff Janis, and Bruce Ellington.
The runningbacks this year, like the wide receivers, are a very deep group. In fact, this is probably the deepest draft that I’ve ever seen. Now personally, I don’t think I would take any of these runningbacks in the first round, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a major impact down the line.
The biggest winners of this group was a tie between Dri Archer and Jerick McKinnon. Both of them showed up to the Combine and were freak athletes, who may not have a true position in the NFL. Archer came in at 5’7″ and ran a 4.26 40 with 20 reps on the bench and a 38″ vertical. He is absolutely explosive and he showed it during his on-field drills. He could catch the ball well out of the backfield and showed that he can get in and out of his cuts very quickly.
McKinnon is truly a man without a position, or at least he is for now. He played some quarterback, cornerback and runningback in college and could end up playing at either corner or runningback in the NFL. McKinnon may only be 5’8″ but he ran a 4.41 40, put up 32(!!!) reps on the bench, and had a 40.5″ vertical with an 11′ broad jump. Explosive is the perfect word to describe McKinnon and he is a beast. 32 reps on the bench is more than many of the offensive lineman and defensive lineman put up. In drills, he caught the ball well and is going to be an intriguing developmental prospect.
Three of the top runningbacks, Tre Mason, Bishop Sankey and Lache Seastrunk all turned in very solid days. Mason ran a 4.5 40 with a 38″ vertical and showed again that he can move the ball in his hands. The SEC Championship game and the National Championship game are all anyone really needs to see of Mason to know that he is a gamer. He can catch passes out of the backfield and is very good at making cuts with the ball in his hands.
Sankey showed off his sturdy athleticism at 5’9″ 209 lbs and posted a 4.49 40 with 26 reps and a 35.5″ vertical leap. Sankey caught the ball well out of the backfield during the Combine and was pretty impressive. He needs to work on not losing yards so often on his carries, but he should be a productive back with that type of athleticism.
Seastrunk said before the Combine that he could run a sub 4.3 40, but that didn’t come close to happening and he clocked in a 4.51 40. He added 15 reps on the bench and a phenomenal 41.5″ vertical. I’m not sure if he just didn’t run well or what the deal was, because someone with that high of a vertical should have a better 40. My only real issue with Seastrunk is that he continually declares that he will do something, aka win the Heisman, and doesn’t come through on it. That being said, he caught the ball well at the Combine and showed off his patented downhill running style. He’s shiftier than you might think too.
De’Anthony Thomas had a poor 40 time, clocking in at 4.50 at 5’8″ and then he added 8 reps on the bench and only a 32″ vertical. It appears based on the measurables that De’Anthony isn’t as explosive as everyone thought, but he proved that he can catch the ball out of the backfield and runs good routes. Then again, who needs measurables when you can run 94 yards in 11 seconds in football pads, not in a straight line, with people chasing you?
I don’t care what De’Anthony’s measurables say, the kid can fly and if I’m a GM, I want him on my team.
Some big name runningbacks struggled at certain aspects of the Combine, Ka’Deem Carey, Silas Redd and Andre Williams all had issues in different areas. Carey ended up running a 4.70 but ended up with 19 reps on the bench and a 32.5″ vertical. Carey has plenty of good tape, so this won’t hurt him too much, but I’m sure teams wanted to see him run faster than that. He has shown that he won’t be a home run threat, but he will still be a productive back.
Silas Redd, like Carey, had a decent day during the drills, but ran very slowly in the 40. Redd put up a 4.70 with 18 bench reps and a 37″ vertical. Redd wasn’t expected to be a burner, but as I said before, teams want to see runningbacks be faster than a 4.70.
Andre Williams only made this list because of his performance in the pass catching drills. Williams had a fantastic year and ran a 4.56 40 with a 38″ vertical, so he’s pretty athletic for a guy who is 5’11” 230 lbs. The only problem is Williams literally couldn’t run any routes out of the backfield and didn’t catch a single pass in the drills. Now, you don’t draft Williams for him to catch passes, but it will limit his versatility as a pro and defenses will identify when he is on the field and use it to their advantage.
Notable runningbacks who had good days with solid Combines: Storm Johnson, Henry Josey, Isaiah Crowell, Carlos Hyde (Johnson, Crowell and Hyde didn’t have great 40 times but they did well in the drills).
Related: 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Recap Day 3: Defensive Backs
Related: 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Recap Day 3: Defensive Line and Linebackers
Related: 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Recap Day 1: Offensive Linemen, Tight Ends, Special Teamers