What I like to call the “sexiest” day of the draft, this is the day when the big time quarterbacks show their stuff.
Oh, wait, there are no big time quarterbacks?
Well, either way, it should be intriguing to see which of the remaining quarterbacks (with the…courage…to throw) will bring the most success.
Also, we’ll get a chance to see if the running backs with hype can aid in their battle for the first round some more, and if some fringe first round receivers can do enough to solidify their stock.
Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss
Once viewed as a competitor for Sam Bradford to be the 2010 top quarterback prospect, Snead’s stock plummeted this year due to terrible inaccuracies and overall inconsistent play at quarterback.
Snead has the rocket arm and the footwork to be a future NFL starter, but the question is which team will feel they can fine tune his accuracy and make him less like JaMarcus Russell and more like Joe Flacco.
Obviously, most of the athletic drills won’t help or hurt him all that much, but the throwing tree will definitely affect him. Granted, he won’t have much confidence in understanding where his receivers will break; he didn’t have much of an idea all of 2009, so he can’t use that as an excuse again.
John Skelton, QB, Fordham
Tell me if this sounds familiar: A quarterback, hailing from an FCS solid program, with 6’5" size, an arm that can throw 65+, and a good release with great potential.
If you thought Joe Flacco, you thought correctly.
Skelton has drawn many Flacco-esque comparisons, and while the end product of Flacco’s rise (the middle of the first round) is a long shot at best for Skelton, he could be a long term project with his size and ability.
If he can display his arm strength as well as show improved footwork and remain coachable, he could have a team in the third round area, give or take a round; give him a shot to develop into a future starter.
Jarrett Brown, QB, West Virginia
Brown has the live arm and athletic ability that teams trying to attempt a more spread-type offense are looking for.
He has a quick enough release to get his throws off on time, and with his unbelievable arm strength, he can make every throw to say the least.
He does run a little hot and cold at times, but in front of all the scouts, and being maybe the most athletically gifted quarterback left throwing at the combine, he has a real chance to shine and emerge as a second to third rounder with an impressive showing in the route-tree.
Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati
With Bradford, Clausen, McCoy, and Tebow all gone, Pike is the probably the most notable name when you look at the quarterback combine list left throwing.
He was inconsistent at the Senior Bowl, sometimes displaying excellent deep ball accuracy with his arm strength, sometimes fluttering the ball out with an awkward release.
In “practices” at the Senior Bowl, stuff like that can sometimes get overlooked. However, with the big dogs of these NFL franchises in attendance, throwing a crisp pass to every direction will be key for this immobile Drew Bledsoe clone.
The league is changing to a more athletically quarterback-drive league, so guys like Pike need to really impress if they hope to get the keys to the franchise car in the future.
Stafon Johnson, RB, USC
After suffering and recovering from one of the most horrific practice (weight room) accidents I’ve ever heard of, Johnson was determined to maintain his mid-round NFL draft stock.
According to most rumors, he has recovered as much as he can, and he can run without much issue with his throat. However, I think NFL teams will believe a trachea-injured running back with speed when they see it.
Johnson will need to run around the 4.55, 4.60 region if he hopes to stay in the mid-round discussion, otherwise this versatile group of second or third tier running backs could leap over him because they’re less of a risk come draft time.
Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State
After CJ Spiller, in my mind it’s up in the air and up to the scout as to who the No. 2 running back in this class is.
Matthews really came on strong this season and showed a great burst through the line. He was very productive this season and understandably emerged as a top flight running back prospect.
He fits into a zone blocking scheme at the next level. Matthews will need to show his explosiveness two ways. One, his 10 yard split. He’s probably going to run around a 4.55, 4.60, which isn’t bad at all. But, he needs to get a great burst in this opening 10 yards, showing that he breaks off the ball hard.
Two, he needs to perform well in the tackle dummy drill. In the drill, you chop your feet over bags, and at the last bag the coach will move the dummy to one side, and you need to maintain speed, read the bag, go opposite, and accelerate. If Matthews can do both of those, then I doubt he goes lower than 28 to the Chargers.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a pure option back be a legit contender as a first round pick, but that’s exactly what we have in Dwyer.
The best power back in the draft in my opinion, Dwyer will have to show scouts he can breakaway in open field and be a complete running back before they take him in the top 32 picks.
He’ll need to have a good 40 time (and by good, I mean a 4.60 or so, which is good for a power back) and run well in the drills to show off his athletic ability. Blocking and receiving will remain a question even after the combine, but showing he can be a solid runner will be a good start to help his draft stock.
Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
After his freshman and sophomore campaigns, I thought the future was extremely bright for the highly touted recruit at Illinois.
But, after a lackluster junior season where he also had to deal with an injury, I would have much rathered him stay in school another season and be a top receiver in the 2011 draft.
He has likely had his heart set on coming out this season since he was a junior in high school, so I guess I can’t blame him for that. He’ll need to really show good route running and speed here at the combine, as I expect a few other receivers to explode to go along with Dez Bryant. I don’t know if there’s room for four receivers in the first round this year.
Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson
At the Senior Bowl, Ford showed that he was a little more than just a track star in football pads, displaying soft hands at times and a little polish as a route runner.
However, his track-star qualities will be his biggest asset come the “Underwear Olympics” as some have called it.
I’m projecting Ford to run the second fastest 40 time at this year’s combine, with a 4.27— not unreasonable for one of the best high school track athletes in the country.
Andre Roberts, WR, Citadel
Although Ramses Barden went in the third round, relatively high for a FCS receiver, it’s rare to see a second round prospect hailing from a non-Division 1-A (FBS) program.
However, Roberts has the attributes and abilities of any top receiver prospect. He runs crisp, is very explosive in and out of his breaks, and has very reliable hands. The only knock on him is his lack of great height and his possible deep speed because he didn’t play against the best athletes.
If Roberts can run well in both athletic, base drills as well as be a fluid route runner in position drills, he could solidify his stock as a third round pick and could make a strong case for the second round.
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