|5 things we learned at combine Sunday||02.23.14 at 11:22 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS – Five things we learned at the combine Sunday:
1. Quarterback Bake Bortles can take advantage of an opportunity
Johnny Manziel didn’t throw (but did look really fast in the 40, as well as the 3-cone), and Teddy Bridgewater didn’t throw or run, and so Bortles was in the spotlight during the throwing drills and he looked impressive, making a variety of impressive connections to a variety of targets on several different routes throughout the session. We still believe that Jadeveon Clowney is the consensus top pick (even though there were some eyebrows raised after he only hit 21 reps in the bench press, a number that was topped by several smaller skill position players), but Bortles certainly made his case to be the first quarterback selected.
2. BC’s Andre Williams helped himself
With a relatively nondescript group of running backs this year, the former Eagle had a chance to make a name for himself when it came to the on-field drills, and the power back (5-foot-11, 230 pounds) had a good outing. He ran a 4.54 and 4.56 in 40 (good times for a bigger back), and had a 38.0 on the vertical jump (fourth in his position group), and went 10-foot-9 on the broad jump (third in his position group). Last year was the first time in 50 years a running back was not selected in the first round, and while the same fate likely awaits Williams and the rest of the backs this year, the BC product is certainly doing his part — he may have gone from a third-day pick to a second-day selection with his work on Sunday. (The best performance for a relatively unknown back went to Kent State’s Dri Archer, who had the best time of the day in the 40 with a 4.26. That just barely missed the 4.24 record set by running back Chris Johnson in 2008, the mark the NFL says is the best 40 by anyone, ever.)
3. The Patriots may not be in the market for an elite-level receiver, but there were several prospects who showed something in the 3-cone drill
New England craves pass catchers who can put up great 3-cone times — the drills showcases footwork, agility and the ability to quickly change direction as opposed to simple straight-line speed. In the past, several of the guys they’ve gone after have popped as collegians in the 3-cone in their Pro Day or at the combine, a group that includes Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Chad Jackson and Josh Boyce all excelled in the drill as collegians. This year, 19 different receivers cracked the 7-second barrier, traditionally considered the barometer for a great time in the drill. (In the previously mentioned group, only Welker topped seven seconds.) On Sunday, Top 10 3-cone times for receivers were Louisville‘s Damian Copeland (6.53), Baylor’s Tevin Reese (6.63), Saginaw Valley State’s Jeff Janis (6.64), Tulane’s Ryan Grant (6.68), Alabama’s Kevin Norwood (6.68), LSU’s Odell Beckham (6.69), South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington (6.69), Murray State’s Walt Powell (6.7), Fresno State’s Isaiah Burse (6.74) and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (6.76). History tells us that one of these guys has a good chance of landing in Foxboro, either as a draft pick or undrafted free agent.
4. Louis Nix III, Dee Ford and Adam Muema made things interesting in the media workroom
Nix, a defensive lineman out of Notre Dame, had been billed as a terrific quote, and he didn’t disappoint in his session with reporters. Asked about his recent weight loss, he said, “My thighs got a little smaller. I just feel sexier, man.” Asked about his occasionally troublesome knee, he smiled and replied, “It’s fantastic. How’s your knee?” And he admitted to being star-struck when he met Seattle coach Pete Carroll. Meanwhile, Muema, a running back from San Diego State, left the combine without taking part in any drills, saying God told him to. (And apparently, if Muema followed God’s wishes, he’d be taken by the Seahawks. “[God] told me to sit down, be quiet, and enjoy the peace,” he said.) And Ford, a defensive lineman out of Auburn, took a shot at Clowney, saying the South Carolina lineman “plays like a blind dog in a meat market.”
5. Cooks, Beckham and Sammy Watkins are REALLY fast
In addition to his 3-cone time, the 5-10, 189-pound Cooks was the fastest receiver tested with a blazing 4.33 in the 40, while the 6-foot, 194-pound Beckham was close behind him with a 4.46. (For what it’s worth, Beckham showed a nice dependability in the receiving drills, and is a guy who will get a bit of a post-combine bump because of his work on Sunday.) The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Watkins had an amazing burst, and finished with a 4.43 40 that should also give him a bit of a post-combine bump.