As I stated on Saturday, my wife and son were both under the weather. As with any cold in the house when you have children, it starts with them, then goes to one of the parents, then to the other and finally to the cat. Now being sick myself, I had ample time to stay on the couch and watch the Sunday addition of the NFL combine. Sunday was the day to watch, quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all going through their drills. After watching most of the day and researching today, below are the players I was impressed and disappointed in.
Quarterbacks: I have to start by saying that there is no Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan or Sam Bradford in this years draft class. In my opinion none of the players available will be able to come in and start right away and have success.
Impressed: Jake Locker from Washington: Going into this weekend the quarterbacks being talked about were Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet and Blaine Gabbert. Jake Locker was the guy being talked about prior to the season. After struggling this year in Washington his draft stock plummeted. After the combine Locker has placed himself back into the top tier quarterbacks where he belongs. The biggest question about Locker was his accuracy, yesterday he looked sharp enough to put that question to rest.
Disappointed: Cam Newton from Auburn: Newton has the arm and the size that NFL owners will drool over. He is built like a defensive end and has a Cannon for an arm. He had a great workout for an athlete, he ran a 4.59 forty, had a vertical of 35 and a broad jump of 10'8. What he did not do well was throw the football. He missed wide receivers with terrible inaccuracy. I think after this weekend Newton's draft stock took a severe hit. Someone will take him in the top ten though, but buyer be ware, see Jamarcus Russell before using a top ten pick on Cam Newton.
I am of the belief that running backs are a dime a dozen. A running back is only as good as his offensive line. There are very few that are better then the guys in front of him, for example Barry Sanders. There is no guy like this in this years draft class, but there are some quality backs available.
Impressed: Dion Lewis from Pittsburgh: He only ran a 4.57 forty, but do not let that fool you. There is more to a running back the a forty time. In the position drills, Lewis looked great. His ability to cut and not lose speed was more then evident. He made great moves in all cone drills and caught the ball nicely after running very good routes. He is a complete back and may be the first one off the board come April.
Disappointed: Mark Ingram from Alabama: Ingram was the polar opposite of Lewis yesterday. He looked slow in his cuts and seemed even slower in his routes. His forty time was unimpressive as well at 4.62. Igrams draft stock might have taken a bit of a hit yesterday and he may need to do a little rebuilding.
The wide receivers in this years class seem deep. Like the running backs though wide receivers are a dime a dozen. What separates the great ones from the good ones is not blazing speed, great hands or a "Diva" mentality. More important for a receiver is his ability to create space by running solid routes and shedding his defender.
Impressed: Julio Jones from Alabama: Julio ran a blazing 4.39 forty, had a 38.5 vertical and a 4.25 twenty yard shuttle. He also ran great routes and caught everything thrown his way. At 6'4 and 220 pounds, Jones may be the best wide receiver in the draft. A.J. Green may still be the first wide receiver off the board, but after yesterday Jones will be the second.
Disappointed: None: All of the wide receivers did their jobs yesterday. They all looked good and none of them will have their stocks fall but some will have their stocks increase.
This years draft class may be deep on the lines, but the offensive skill guys seem to be as good as any, but not great. As the day rolled on, I watched from my couch as Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea broke the bench press record of 45 putting up a staggering 49 and I thought to myself; maybe I should go back to the gym and get in shape for next years combine....right after this nap.