Sunday is meant to be a day of rest. Not in the NFL and this Sunday is no exception as the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers take to the field for their workouts.
This may be the most anticipated day of any on the NFL Scouting Combine schedule as we get to see the offensive skill guys compete. This year there are plenty of storylines to follow. Adding to the intrigue of the day is the uncertainty at the quarterback position. With everyone but Matt Barkley participating in full workouts it should make for a very interesting Sunday. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines of Sunday’s on the field workouts.
It’s all about the quarterbacks
Geno Smith is going to be one of the most heavily scrutinized prospects in the draft leading up to April 25th. He’s the only real possibility to intrigue the Kansas City Chiefs at number one overall but major question marks surround his game. Smith skipped the Senior Bowl, drawing criticism about his competitive juices. Smith will have an opportunity to distance himself from the rest of the quarterback class on Sunday as all but Matt Barkley will be throwing.
Outside of Smith, there is a full blown fight among the quarterbacks behind Geno Smith to be taken in the first round of April’s draft. This is widely considered a weak quarterback class at the top and the reality is that we could see one quarterback taken on Thursday. Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson, Ryan Nassib, and Matt Barkley may be second round talents but as we know quarterbacks get bumped up draft boards due to positional value. Which one of these guys will take a step forward and create some separation in this draft class?
At the Senior Bowl Glennon, Wilson, and Nassib failed to separate and will have an opportunity to standout in Indianapolis. Adding to the intrigue will be the wow factor that guys like E.J. Manuel and Landry Jones will bring in an event like this. Manuel showed well in Mobile but his tape is very average. Indianapolis should be another opportunity for Manuel to showcase the best of his skill set and jump into the talk with the second tier of quarterbacks. Jones, like Manuel, has average tape but some big time arm talent. In a clean pocket, Jones can throw with the best of them. He should put on a throwing display on Sunday and is a prime candidate to be overdrafted with the lack of sure-fire prospects in the class.
The Tyler Bray reclamation project is fully underway. Bray volunteered to be a ‘throwing’ quarterback at the event. A great move for a guy that was drawing scrutiny for his maturity. If your looking for a PR team, contact Bray’s agent as they have done a nice job for him. Bray is wildly inconsistent but spins the ball as anyone in this class. On film you see some unreal throws followed by two headscratchers. The format in Indianapolis is perfect for Bray to excel and will most likely begin to gain some traction in this draft class.
With Eddie Lacy on the sidelines, who will step up?
The 2013 running back class lacks a top end talent. The only guy carrying a first round grade for us is Alabama’s Eddie Lacy, who won’t workout in Indianapolis. The remainder of the class is bunched up in that 2-3 round area.
Giovani Bernard of North Carolina will be looking to capitalize on Lacy’s injury and take a step forward in the minds NFL talent evaluators. Bernard’s movement skills will be on full display on Sunday in the change of direction drills and should run a solid 40 time.
Joseph Randle is a true three down back that may begin to create a little hype as the top back
In the second tier of running backs you will find some productive collegiate backs. Montee Ball is beginning to build a little buzz after a very productive career at Wisconsin. If Ball runs well in Indianapolis he could take that step forward and hear his name called in the 2nd to 3rd round range.
Oregon’s Kenjon Barner added some quality weight to his frame and we’ll see on Sunday whether that will affect his signature speed. The added weight could help in the eyes of scouts as Barner lacked the physicality to be considered an everydown back in the league.
Christine Michael won the eye test among the running backs. Checking in at 5100, 220 pounds and repping out 27 times under 225 pounds will help his stock but he needs to prove that he wants to be a great one in interviews with teams. Michael fell out favor with Kevin Sumlin’s staff at A&M and lost carries as a senior. Teams are going to dig up the dirt on this one and Michael will have to answer to those skeletons. A solid showing in the running and jumping portions of the Combine could help vault Michael to the top of the second tier RB’s.
This wide receiver group is an impressive group as a whole. It’s lacking an A.J. Green slam dunk prospect but brings plenty of
intrigue with it.
Cordarrelle Patterson is chock full of potential. He could take the steps towards proving that he’s a rare talent capable of being a top ten prospect in the draft. Patterson’s movement skills are rare and if he blazes the 40 he could further his already sky high draft stock.
The race for the number two receiver will be an interesting one that we could see play out on Sunday. With Keenan Allen on the shelf with a knee injury, DeAndre Hopkins could secure the number two spot. Hopkins will have to run a solid time in the 40 as the only question with his game is separation speed.
Tavon Austin came out and said he’s the best player in the draft. His size limitations may be a deterrent to that claim but he will have an opportunity to show that he’s a rare talent. For my money, I’d take his teammate Stedman Bailey ahead of him and my feeling is that Bailey will emerge from Sunday as the WVU receiver with the most buzz.
Markus Wheaton of Oregon State is one of my favorite prospects in the draft. He’s already putting up solid numbers (20 on the bench at 5110, 189 pounds and 32 6/8″ arms). Wheaton has the speed to challenge Marquise Goodwin of Texas and could emerge as the biggest gainer in this class after Sunday’s performance.
It’s a safe bet that one or both of the former Tyler Bray targets could emerge from the Combine as winners. Justin Hunter has unreal length and will look to display rare speed and burst for his size. He’s a prime target to emerge from Sunday with some major buzz. The better of the two receivers is Da’Rick Rogers in my book. Rogers was hampered by off-the-field issues at Tennessee which led to him playing his senior season at Tennessee Tech. Rogers has 2nd round talent in this class but will have to show well in interviews and on the field.
Marquise Goodwin of Texas is looking to break Chris Johnson’s 40 time record of 4.24 and is a virtual lock to break Jerome Simpson’s broad jump record. Goodwin was underutilized at Texas and began to generate buzz following the Senior Bowl. He will only add to that buzz after this weekend in Indianapolis.