I’m sitting at gate A10 of the Indianapolis International Airport waiting to board my flight home and thought now is a good time to recap the exciting action of Day 4 at the Combine. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and WRs coach George Stewart are sitting near me as well just hours after watching QBs, RBs and WRs take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Let’s go over what they saw from the drafts offensive skill position players…
– Cam Newton is this draft class’ highest-profile player in the highest-profile football position and it looks like he’ll come away from the Combine with mixed results. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, which is tied for 3rd best among QBs with Jake Locker, but he was most impressive in the broad jump, where he registered a 10-foot, 6-inch effort. His throwing performance was apparently less impressive as he struggled at times with accuracy. As we noted earlier, though, that’s to be expected with a lot of QBs because of the unfamiliarity that exists between QBs and WRs at the Combine.
Overall, my opinion of Cam Newton as an NFL prospect hasn’t changed much since I arrived here in Indianapolis. From a physical ability standpoint and from a physique standpoint, he’s as gifted a prospect as I’ve come across. But we already knew that. His performance with the media, in throwing drills and reportedly in front of NFL teams had mixed results, which I already had a hunch would happen. So what I thought were strengths of his coming into the Combine were confirmed, but what I thought his weaknesses were coming into the Combine were also confirmed. For now, I’ll reserve judgment on him. But I’ll also say that I can already tell that at least one team in the top 10 will fall in love with him and make him their pick.
– Before we get to the other QBs who were on the field Sunday, let’s briefly touch on the WR position. The top 2 prospects at this position coming into the Combine were A.J. Green and Julio Jones, in that order. And coming out of the Combine, those 2 remain at the top of the heap. But I’m not so sure it’s a cinch that Green is ahead of Jones. I’ll leave it up to the experts to tell you which one looked better in terms of pass catching and route running, but in terms of straight-line speed Jones was significantly better. He ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash while Green registered a 4.5 time. And Jones registered a 38.5-inch vertical leap, while I don’t see Green’s result in that category, which means he’s either out of the top 15 at the WR position or he didn’t participate in that event.
At this point, I like Jones a bit better than Green. Although Jones is an inch shorter and I like tall receivers, Jones is also 9 pounds heavier and he tested better in: straight-line speed, leaping ability and the broad jump. In fact, Jones recorded the best broad jump number of the WR group (11 feet, 3 inches).
Here are more results from Sunday’s WR drills.
– Going back to the QB position, I want to talk about 3 more guys. The first is Ryan Mallet, who came off terribly while meeting with the media on Saturday. But for as terrible as he performed in front of the media on Saturday, it sounds like he was every bit as great on the field in front of coaches and scouts on Sunday. Reports are that his accuracy was the best seen at the Combine since earlier in the decade and we all know already that he has a strong arm.
The second name is Jake Locker. As I sit here in the airport immediately after my Combine experience, Locker is my favorite of the QBs in this year’s class. I think he’s a winner with good leadership qualities. I also like that he posted an impressive time in the 40-yard dash (4.52 seconds). It’s also been noted elsewhere that he looked good in terms of accuracy, and accuracy is the #1 knock on him coming out of college.
The third and last QB name we’ll mention for now is former Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor. He’s not the type of QB that I typically gravitate toward and I guess I’m not saying that I endorse him now as an option for the Vikings, but there’s something about how he performs both in games and in a Combine-type of environment that I love. He ran a 4.51-second time in the 40-yard dash – tops among all QBs – and I like his throwing style. He was a great competitor at Virginia Tech, too.
Here are more results from the 40-yard dash for QBs.
– We’re not going to address RBs in this post but I promise we’ll discuss them later, maybe early this week.
That’s it for now from Indianapolis. I’m going to find some food before I board the plane that will bring me back home after another great experience at the NFL Scouting Combine.
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Sunday’s Combine action will have the QBs, RBs and WRs going through timing stations and position-specific drills on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. I’m sure this represents one of the most popular days of coverage for NFL Network because so many fans like to tune in and watch the QBs work with the WRs.
But as you’re watching/following the Combine and the QB/WR workouts, keep in mind that NFL coaches and scouts are more concerned with the minutia of the drills as opposed to whether or not the QB completes the pass or the WR comes down with an acrobatic catch. Don’t get me wrong, the coaches and scouts value accuracy and sure hands. But the mechanics are what the trained eyes are focusing on today.
The reason for this is simple. The passing game relies on timing and familiarity because many of the routes are intricate and many receivers prefer certain passes be thrown in certain areas. At the Combine, there’s no way for the QBs and WRs to deveop a rapport with each other where they are on the same page.
So as you watch Cam Newton throw a comeback route to A.J. Green or Jake Locker throw a crossing pattern to Julio Jones, pay more attention to how the WR comes out of his break and how efficiently the QB dropped back from under center as opposed to whether or not the pass was completed.
Just some food for thought on a lazy Sunday of Combine watching.
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– vikings.com Videographer Jordan Struck and I will focus on defensive linemen today in the media center. We will put together package of interviews with the players and post that to vikings.com this afternoon.
It’s Day 4 of the Combine and it’s also the last day vikings.com will be live in Indianapolis. Let’s begin by going through today’s schedule…
– Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL) and Group 3 (TEs) departed Indianapolis yesterday.
– Group 4 (QBs, WRs), Group 5 (QBs, WRs) and Group 6 (RBs) will be on the field going through timing stations and skill drills. This is basically what you see on TV when you turn on NFL Network during the Combine.
– Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL) and Group 9 (LBs) have an NFLPA meeting, psychological testing and interviews with teams.
– Group 10 (DBs) and Group 11 (DBs) will go through measurements, medical exams, a media session, psychological testing and interviews with teams.
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