NFL Combine 2014: Day 4 Notebook

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41NFL National Lead WriterFebruary 23, 2014

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Throughout the course of the NFL Scouting Combine, former NFL defensive back Matt Bowen will bring you his daily notebook from Indianapolis.


Clemson’s Sammy Watkins’s Solidifies His Top-10 Grade

On Sunday, Watkins posted a 4.43-second official time 40-yard dash. That meshes with his game tape, which is a key factor when grading out prospects at the wide receiver position.

In my film breakdown of the receiver, Watkins showcased an electric burst up the field with the ball in his hands, plus he has the acceleration to separate in the vertical passing game. A dynamic playmaker that also has the open-field ability to produce after the catch, Watkins has true game speed that shows up consistently when you watch him play.

Already a top-10 talent based on his Clemson film, the speed Watkins displayed on Sunday should solidify his ranking as the No. 1 receiver in the 2014 draft class.

AJ McCarron Made the Right Decision to Throw in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23: Former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron works out during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Watching the Alabama product during drills, I thought McCarron had a good day on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. The quarterback looked well-coached, was comfortable with his technique and also put some nice touch on the ball.

He isn’t in the top tier of prospects at the position—he needs to develop his strength/ball placement on deep, outside breaking cutsbut he has the SEC tape to back up his overall game. And after electing not to play in the Senior Bowl last month, I believe McCarron helped himself by throwing in Indianapolis.

Texas A&M’s Mike Evans Made Some Money on Sunday

A 4.53-second official 40-yard dash time for Evans should push him up some draft boards. Given his size (6’5”, 231 lbs), anything under a 4.6 was going to create some buzz for the wide receiver.

A legit size/speed player at the position, Evans also registered 37 inches on the vertical jump. The receiver has drawn some comparisons with Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson and should be considered a solid top-15 prospect after today’s workout at a position loaded with talent in the 2014 class. 


Running Back Charles Sims Displayed His Athletic Ability

Aug 31, 2013; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Charles Sims (3) carries the ball into the end zone for a touchdown against the William & Mary Tribe during the first quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeC
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Going back to my Senior Bowl notes, Sims showcased his route-running ability throughout that week of practice. The West Virginia product has a quick, lateral burst that was on display in Mobile when he would work away from a defender’s leverage at the top of the route stem (option, angle, etc.).

On Sunday, Sims (6’0”, 214 lbs) put his athletic ability on display, as he posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, a 37.5-inch vertical jump and a 10’6” broad jump. Those are solid numbers for a running back that has the skill set to produce in today’s NFL offenses.


Odds and Ends

  • LSU’s Odell Beckham put together an excellent workout on the field. The wide receiver ran an official 4.43-second 40-yard dash time, was fluid in his route running and looked confident catching the ball.
  • On Saturday, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater said he would run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, but the quarterback changed his mind overnight and shut it down on Sunday. After putting on weight to get up to 214 pounds, I wanted to see the quarterback post a time on the field. This was a curious move from one of the top prospects in the 2014 class.
  • Opinions on Blake Bortles are all over the board. The quarterback did showcase his arm strength today—he does put some zip on his throws—but the tape will be the story with the Central Florida prospect. 
  • Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde pulled up during his workout today with an apparent hamstring injury. NFL scouts will have to wait until Hyde’s pro day to get some times on the 6’0”, 230-pound running back. Sunday was a disappointing day for a prospect that also elected not to play in the Senior Bowl.
  • Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (6’6”, 248 lbs) created a buzz with his 4.61-second official 40-yard dash time. With his size, speed and athletic ability, there will be some interest in working with Thomas to develop his game at the pro level.
  • Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel didn’t throw on Sunday, but he did post an official time of 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash, along with a 4.03-second effort in the short shuttle (5-10-5), a 31.5-inch vertical jump and 9’5” broad jump.  
  • Kelvin Benjamin might be the draft’s most interesting prospect. At 6’5” and 240 pounds, the Florida State wide receiver ran an official time of 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash and struggled with his flexibility at times during drills. He is a prospect loaded with raw talent that will be tough to grade.  
  • At 6’0”, 202 pounds—with 33-inch arms and excellent cover skills—Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert can solidify his spot as the top cornerback on the board in this year’s class with a solid workout on Tuesday here in Indianapolis.
  • Two wide receivers ran sub 4.4-second times in the 40-yard dash today: Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (4.33) and Pitt State’s (KS) John Brown (4.34). 
  • Eastern Illinois’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo displayed the same compact, quick release during throwing drills that I saw at the Senior Bowl practices.
  • If I had to pick a surprise from today’s workouts, it would be Clemson’s Martavis Bryant. At 6’4”, 211 pounds, the Clemson wide receiver ran an official 40-yard dash time of 4.42 seconds. With that size/speed combination, Bryant should be viewed as a vertical threat in the passing game. Teams will be able to throw the 9 (fade) and 8 (post) with Bryant on the field.
  • How about Dri Archer from Kent State? The running back posted an official 4.26-second 40-yard dash time, which almost beat Chris Johnson’s all-time combine record of 4.24.
  • Jadeveon Clowney will run the 40-yard dash on Monday morning. Can the defensive end produce a time in the 4.4-range at 266 pounds?

Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 


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