BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino
The wide receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks took center stage on Day 2 of the on-field portion of the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, with the receivers’ light shining the brightest of the trio of positions.
In one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory, several top prospects solidified their draft status, second-tier players made a push up the board, and some late-round guys had excellent on-field showings.
Big-Bodied Receivers Standout
Any concerns about Mike Evans’ athletic ability can be erased. The Texas A&M wideout clocked an official 4.53 forty yard dash and recorded a 37″ vertical jump Sunday to go along with his massive 6’5”, 231-pound frame with 35 1/8” arms.
Evans looked like a natural hands catcher with excellent body control. When all of this is put together, you have a likely top-15 selection and matchup nightmare at the next level for opposing defenses.
Clemson’s Martavis Bryant measured in at 6’4” and 211 pounds while clocking in a 4.42 40-yard dash and leaping 39” in the vertical jump. Bryant was above average in drills and certainly made his case to NFL decision-makers that he has the size and athletic ability to be a No. 1 target in the NFL.
Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman (6’6”, 225 lbs) and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin (6’5”, 240 lbs) also proved that they can move well with their giant frames. Coleman ran 4.56 in the 40 while Benjamin was just behind him at 4.61 seconds. Coleman also produced 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press despite his 34” arms, while Benjamin had 13 reps. Big targets with this kind of athletic ability are rare and valuable commodities in the NFL.
Solid as They Come
In my view, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins solidified his status as a potential top-five selection and as the top receiver in this draft class with his combine performance Sunday. Watkins measured in at 6’1” and 211 pounds and looked explosive in all of his movements, including a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. He completed all drills at top speed and caught everything thrown his way.
LSU’s Odell Beckham might not have measured in as tall as hoped (5’11”, 198 lbs), but every movement he made on the field was natural and fluid. Beckham stood out in drills as a natural hands catcher, snatching everything away from his body while completing drills at top speed. He had impressive workout numbers with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, 38.5” vertical jump, 6.69-second three cone drill and 3.94 short shuttle. Beckham is valued as a top-20 draft selection.
No. 1 Target Upside
When you take a step back and look at the body of work that Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews has put together, you quickly realize his resume may be the most impressive of any player in this entire draft. He is the SEC’s all-time leading receiver despite suspect quarterback play, was a star of Senior Bowl week and validated his skill set with a strong Combine showing.
Matthews measured in at 6’3” and 212 pounds and ran a 4.46-second forty yard dash. He also turned in a 35.5” vertical jump, 21 bench press reps, a 6.95-second three cone drill and 4.18 short shuttle. Matthews might not go in the first round, but he certainly looks like he can produce like he was taken in Round 1.
Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief opened eyes with his strong showing on Sunday. He passes the eye test with his impressive 6’2” and 221 pound frame. He turned in a 4.40-second forty yard dash, 39.5” vertical jump and 11′ broad jump. Moncrief stood out in drills while displaying his natural receiving skill set. Moncrief has entered the conversation to be among the second tier of receivers behind the top of the first-round mix.
Pesky Slot Potential
A plethora of players who lack ideal size to be outside receivers at the next level impressed with strong workout numbers combined with excellent performances in drills that make them look like prototypical options to win from the slot.
Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro (5’9″, 192 lbs) combined a 4.46-second 40-yard dash with a 39” vertical jump and 20 bench press reps. He dominated the gauntlet drill and his attention to detail is excellent.
Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (5’10″, 189 lbs) was the fastest receiver with a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. He proved his quickness with a 6.76 three-cone and an unbelievable 3.81-second 20-yard shuttle. Cooks displayed excellent hands and routes during drills.
South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington (5’9″, 197 lbs) exceeded expecations, turning in a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, 39.5” vertical jump, 6.69-second three cone drill and a 3.95-second short shuttle. He combined this with a strong showing in drills. Ellington helped himself as much as any receiver did on Sunday.
Notre Dame’s T.J. Jones (6′, 188 lbs), Colorado’s Paul Richardson (6′, 175 lbs) and Oklahoma’s Jalen Saunders (5’9″, 163 lbs) turned in excellent forty times running 4.48, 4.40 and 4.44 respectively.
Saginaw Valley State’s Jeff Janis turned in one of the most impressive all-around workouts of any player. After measuring in at 6’3” and 219 pounds, Janis ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, produced 20 bench press reps, jumped 37.5” in the vertical jump, and displayed his quickness with a 6.64-second three-cone drill and 3.98 short shuttle. Janis displayed good hands and body control during drills. He is rising up the board.
Days to Forget
LSU’s Jarvis Landry (5’11″, 205 lbs) has a lot of ground to make up at his pro day after having a combine performance he would like to forget. Landry’s vertical jump was only 28.5″, which would be a slightly above-average leap for an offensive lineman. Landry followed that up with a disappointing 4.77-second forty yard dash. An injury suffered at the end of his 40 kept Landry from fully participating in on-field drills and displaying his best traits in his hands and route-running.
Tulane’s Ryan Grant (6′, 199 lbs) didn’t impress with his 4.64 40-yard dash, and was sloppy and inconsistent in drills. He will be looking to improve at his pro day. In a deep receiver class, days like this are harmful for the draft stock of a guy like Grant.
Quick Quarterback Notes
There isn’t much to be said for quarterbacks throwing against air. That said, it’s a disappointment to me that Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel opted to not throw Sunday. Very little is asked in terms of throws, so there isn’t much to lose by participating.
On a positive note, San Jose State’s David Fales and Ball State’s Keith Wenning, who both came into the combine with questions about arm strength, dropped several deep balls in the bucket on vertical routes.
Potential Every-Down Backs Impress
There are a number of running backs in this class who I feel can come in and be starters, and many of them turned in strong showings on Sunday.
Washington’s Bishop Sankey (5’9″, 209 lbs) clocked a 4.49-second 40-yard dash Saturday while he also pumped out 26 bench press reps Friday. His change-of-direction skills and explosiveness were both apparent during drills. He caught the football better than expected.
Auburn’s Tre Mason (5’8″, 207 lbs) is making a strong push for the top back in this class after clocking a 4.50-second 40-yard dash and leaping 40.5” in the vertical jump. Mason has terrific ability to make cuts and explode up field. He caught the ball well and looks like a potential every-down back in the NFL.
West Virginia’s Charles Sims (5’11″, 214 lbs) ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and leaped 37.5” in the vertical jump. Sims catches the ball better than any other runner in the class despite his hands only measuring in at 8 1/4”.
Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk (5’9″, 201 lbs) ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and leaped 41.5” in the vertical jump and 11’2” in the broad jump. He is incredibly explosive in his lower body and showed solid hands after not catching any passes in 2013.
Florida State’s Devonta Freeman (5’8″, 206 lbs) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and is a natural runner. He changes directions with ease and has excellent upfield burst. Freeman catches the ball well and could be a top-100 selection.
Central Florida’s Storm Johnson (6′, 209 lbs) turned in a respectable but not blazing 4.60-second 40. What stood out in drills was his ability to cut and change directions. I didn’t see enough of this on film and I am more optimistic of Johnson after his workout.
Notre Dame’s George Atkinson III (6’1″, 218 lbs) had an impressive 40 run of 4.48 seconds while he jumped 38” in the vertical. He looked explosive during drills and there is some intrigue surrounding his potential. Atkinson had only 163 college touches, but could be a sleeper late in the draft.
Some Good, Some Bad from the “Gadget” Players
Kent State’s Dri Archer turned in an unbelievable official 40-yard dash time of 4.26, which will most likely be the top time of any player at any position in this draft class. At 5’7” and 173 pounds, Archer needed an elite time to have value in the NFL. He also leaped 38” in the vertical and was explosive in drills.
On the other hand, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas failed to produce an excitable 40-yard dash time, with an official mark of 4.50 seconds. At 5’9” and 174 pounds with 8 1/8” hands, that likely crushed his draft stock.
Georgia Southern’s Jerick McKinnon was one of the biggest winners on Sunday. I label him a gadget player not because of his size (5’9”, 209 lbs.) but that he played so many positions in college. He played quarterback, running back, receiver, wing and defensive back. Mckinnon is an explosive athlete who needs to carve out a niche.
Running Back Disappointments
Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (5’9″, 207 lbs) was not great on Sunday. After disappointing in the 40 with an official 4.70-second effort, Carey didn’t catch the ball well and was very slow to change directions and burst up the field. In a deep class, a day like this will have other prospects knocking on the door to pass him.
Florida State’s James Wilder (6’3″, 232 lbs) produced a slow 40-yard dash as well, running it in 4.86 seconds. Wilder was extremely stiff and lacked fluidity in drills.
Boston College’s Andre Williams (5’11″, 230 lbs) did not answer the questions I had about his ability to catch the football. Williams did not catch a single pass during his senior season, likely due his inability to be a reliable receiver. He looked uncomfortable on Sunday, needing his neck and chest to haul in two passes and was lost extending his arms to corral another. It appears he will be limited to first and second down in the NFL.
For a full look at results from this year’s combine, check out the results tracker at NEPatriotsDraft.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Andre Williams, Bishop Sankey, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Coleman, Bruce Ellington, Charles Sims, David Fales, De'Anthony Thomas, Derek Carr, Devonta Freeman, Donte Moncrief, Dri Archer, George Atkinson III, Jalen Saunders, James Wilder, Jarvis Landry, Jeff Janis, Jerick McKinnon, Johnny Manziel, Jordan Matthews, Ka'Deem Carey, Keith Wenning, Kelvin Benjamin, Lache Seastrunk, Martavis Bryant, Michael Campanaro, Mike Evans, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Odell Beckham, Paul Richardson, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Ryan Grant, Sammy Watkins, Scouting Combine, Storm Johnson, T.J. Jones, Teddy Bridgewater, Tre Mason, Wide Receivers