Takeaways from Day 2 of the NFL Combine: QB’s, WR’s, RB’s
Both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota threw and did all the drills and they reinforced the gap between them and the rest of the group. Mariota showed this elite athletic ability and looked good overall throwing the football. Winston clearly has the greater arm talent, and of course came from a Pro Style team, but there are still questions there that these drills aren’t going to answer. The interception spike this past year was a concern, so seeing how he throws vs air is not going to solve that question. One thing that wasn’t too surprising to most that followed Winston was his lack of athleticism, he’s not a guy who will out run defenders or make people miss. Overall both quarterbacks helped themselves with their Combine performance, but both will be still facing questions going forward.
After the top two quarterbacks there isn’t a lot to love from this group. Brett Hundley, Garrett Grayson and Bryce Petty are probably the next three guys in some order, but all have their question marks and look more like developmental guys rather than year 1 or 2 starters. In the right system with the right amount of patience you could get a good starter from that group, but it’s far from certain. Hundley has the highest upside of this group and was extremely impressive in the athletic drills, but he needs more work as a thrower.
Outside of the top 5 guys this group was pretty rough. Two guys could even look to change positions. It was good to see that Nick Marshall was working on DB drills because that is a far better fit for him at the next level. There are some reports that Blake Sims could move to running back, and that could be an interesting conversion project as well. Sims showed well in the athletic drills and it could lead to him making the position switch down the line (though likely after the Draft).
A lot was made with this group’s 40 times, but the reality is that is an overblown aspect to running backs at the next level. Sure you want to reach a certain threshold, but worrying that so few guys ran a under a 4.5 is a bit too much. For bigger backs, Le’Veon Bell, Jeremy Hill and Eddie Lacy (at his Pro Day) were in the 4.6 range. While thought of as a bigger back Alfred Morris came to the combine in 2012 at 219 pounds and ran a 4.67 40. That obviously didn’t help his draft stock, but he’s got the most rushing yards over the last 3 seasons. For smaller backs LeSean McCoy ran a 4.5 at his Pro Day and Tre Mason ran a 4.5 at the combine despite being one of the more explosive players at the position. So don’t get overly concerned with what Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi or Duke Johnson ran.
In addition to the big names who all did well, look at some smaller school guys like David Johnson, John Crockett and Zach Zenner who all tested well. Of those Johnson is probably the only one who cracks the top 100 so you could get some intriguing value in a guy like Crockett or Zenner.
There is a lot of talent in this receiver group overall, and especially at the top. Generally most people will say that Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker and Jaelen Strong are some version of the top 4 receivers in this class and all first round picks. All four looked good at the Combine, but White and Strong probably had the best days. White may edge out Cooper on more people’s boards, and both look to be top 10 worthy this year. Another highly talked about WR Dorrial Green-Beckham, who would be considered in the top 10 mix if not for off the field issues had a mixed day. He ran 4.49 which is great for a bigger receiver, but his jumps and agility drills were more pedestrian. You would have liked to see more explosion and a little more quickness to compare to some of the elite receivers in recent years. Now for a guy like Green-Beckham who has more limited tape, Combine workouts are going to weigh a bit more in the evaluation. With a major red flag already there it’s going to make some teams question taking him high.
After that first group of 4 or 5 receivers there is still a lot of talent to be had by this class. Sammie Coates and Devin Smith both helped themselves from the next group (though Coates hands still remain a question). Guys like Tyler Lockett and Tre McBride showed well during the workouts also. A couple later round guys really showed up in Darren Waller and Chris Conley. Waller was undervalued and raw as a receiver coming from the GT offense, but his size/speed/explosion combo is impressive. He may actually be best converting to a joker TE role, but in a year or two he could make for an interesting offensive weapon. Conley was a solid receiver at Georgia, but didn’t show as a special player by any stretch. Yet at 6’2″ 213, he ran a 4.35 40 and tied or broke both the vertical and broad jump records. That type of explosion isn’t necessarily on film, but with the right coaching and patience it could be unearthed at the next level.