Wow, what a long and more importantly, impressive day. All three groups – quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends, represented themselves well. So let’s dive right in.
– It’s clear there is heavy interest in a quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers interviewing a whole host of them, six at last count.
Miami (FL)’s Brad Kaaya was one of the most polished players to work out today. Footwork was clean and consistent and though he doesn’t possess a big arm, he can make most of the throws underneath. Pitt’s Nathan Peterman is in a similar boat. Ball will float on the deep ball but his accuracy his strong underneath. Ball placement was excellent.
– Iowa’s C.J. Beathard is in a similar boat as those two. I like his carriage of the football and his quick release. Day Three, late round guy it’s looking like. You know I wouldn’t take a quarterback at that point but hey, someone will.
– I know a lot of people were tough on DeShone Kizer for his accuracy, and that’s fair, but I liked his feet getting away from center. Gained ground on his initial steps with a big, powerful lower half. That’s a good starting point. The rest can be worked on. All starts from the ground up.
– Possibly the first quarterback and overall pick taken, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky looked really good. Fluid in his drops, ball placement was good, and he showed an arm.
– Not saying it’s a good or bad thing but Cals’ Davis Webb holds the ball really high and tight. Basically right next to his earlobe. Great zip on the ball too. Velocity will help him downfield of course but also in tight windows underneath and in the red zone, where every throw is challenged.
– Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans was predictably slow in his footwork, he’s a really raw guy, but I wasn’t concerned with that. Slow isn’t bad. Better to be technical and slow than fast and wrong. But he struggled on the technical side of things too. In his five step drop, his strides were all the same length. Needs to start with three big and then two small gather steps to bring himself to balance. Looks like he needs a lot of work.
– The story of the day, of course, is Washington’s John Ross. You’re looking at the NFL Combine’s new record holder for the fastest 40, clocking in at a official 4.22, a full two hundredths better than Chris Johnson. That’s absurd but as Mike Mayock correctly pointed out on the broadcast, it was sorta expected. Everyone knew he was fast. I’ve entertained the idea of picking up Ross at 30 but I don’t expect him to be there anymore. Keep in mind he ran despite a history of knee injuries and a torn labrum he’s going to have surgery on in ten days. Makes it all the more impressive.
– Two receivers who might be in play for the Steelers at 30? Zay Jones and Carlos Henderson. I know WR might not feel like the most pressing need right now, and I have made arguments against it, but both guys can play in the slot and are much better after the catch threats than Eli Rogers, while also being able to play on the outside. Just think about it, is all I’m saying.
Jones had a great day, putting to rest any doubts over timed speed with a 4.45. His vertical was 36.5 inches, his broad 11’1″, and his short shuttle a crazy 4.01. I really liked Jones’ route running ability and catch radius at the Senior Bowl and he may have worked himself into late first round conversation.
Henderson did well too, running a 4.46 and jumping 36 inches. He might be the best receiver after the catch in this year’s class and should go in the Top 50 picks.
– Two guys who ran a lot better than most people expected. Michigan’s Amara Darboh and Penn State’s Chris Godwin. 4.45 and 4.42 respectively, two excellent times for guys 209+. Godwin’s hands were great in the gauntlet and I don’t think he dropped a pass. Natural catcher and fluid running down the line. He also turned in an absurd four flat in the short shuttle, tied for the best number of the group.
Godwin fits exactly what the Steelers look for if they take a receiver in the mid rounds. 6’1 209 with wheels and big play ability downfield. It fits and they have met with him.
– Northern Illinois’ Kenny Golladay put up some impressive numbers for 6’4 218, running a 4.5 flat. He looked good in the gauntlet as well, similar to Godwin.
– Cooper Kupp didn’t run well, officially a 4.62, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Way overhyped for his Senior Bowl week, which was fine, but far from great. He’s just an average athlete and I still don’t think he’ll be able to separate well at the next level. His hands, however, were good, so I’ve basically given him the total white guy scouting report.
– Air Force’s Jalen Robinette was disappointing to me. Didn’t run fast (4.62), didn’t show much explosion in drills (10’0″ broad) and despite having a giant pair of hands, had several drops. That included one over his shoulder on a go ball, basically where he won exclusively in college.
– Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds had a pretty good day. The man who runs the Senior Bowl, Phil Savage, seemed impressed with him, too.
IMO, best Group 5/WR workouts:
1. Ryan Switzer/UNC
2. Josh Malone/Tenn
3. Josh Reynolds/A&M
— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) March 4, 2017
4.52 40, 37 inch vert, and a 4.13 in the short shuttle.
– Even on air, WKU’s Taywan Taylor made some difficult catches. Went all out and dove for a couple passes thrown well outside of his frame. Numbers weren’t great but his workout was solid.
– Akron’s Jerome Lane is a major project and you can see he is still fighting to catch the football. Several drops throughout.
– Local product from WVU, Shelton Gibson was rumored to run in the 4.3’s. Nope. He turned in a 4.5 flat. Yuck.
– We mentioned to keep an eye on Travin Dural’s 40 time to get a good gauge for his speed. The verdict? A 4.57. Not going to endear himself as a deep threat at the next level.
– Man, this is a class for the ages. As basically everyone buzzed about, it’s arguably the best that’s been there in at least 15 years and maybe ever. Hard to pick out one guy who stole the show. They all rose to the moment.
– Have to be happy about OJ Howard’s 4.51 time at 251 pounds. Howard was getting a push from David Njoku for the best tight end and again, if you’re putting major emphasis on receiving traits, you might lean Njoku, but I think Howard is safe. Couple of drops in his workout but I still like his hands.
– Njoku was good though too. 4.64 for how big and built he looks is just fine. His other numbers were unreal, a 37.5 inch vert and 11’1″ broad. Insane.
– Gerald Everett keeps squashing any concerns over him having bad hands just because they are small. Natural catcher who plucks away from his frame and turned in a solid 4.62 40 and fantastic 37.5 inch vert.
– Of course, Ole Miss’ Evan Engram had the most impressive workout. At 233 pounds, he ran a 4.42 and jumped 36 inches in the vert. A big receiver who gives effort as a blocker, he should be the third tight end off the board. Could the Steelers look at him at 30? He certainly won’t be there at 62.
– We finally get a live look at Ashland’s Adam Shaheen. I cautioned not to expect a 4.5 number and also to be happy with something in the 4.7’s given how massive his entire body is. That’s exactly what he did, hitting a 4.79 official. In drills, he isn’t the most explosive guy at the top of his route, again, not a surprise, but he’s super smooth and is an efficient route runner. With his size and good athleticism, there’s a lot to love.
– We also wrote to keep an eye on FIU’s Jonnu Smith. Good day. 4.62 and 248 pounds, a ridiculous 38 inch vert and 10’7″ in the broad. He’s a lean build and again, bit of a tweener, but I like him and his value.
– As blockers, I thought Jeremy Sprinkle was the best guy in drills. No wasted motion off the line and he has a wide base with great leg drive. He was smooth as a receiver too with good hands, though he is just an average athlete (4.69).
– Toledo’s Michael Roberts has one of those classic bubble butts to derive power from his lower half. Will be a good blocker in the league which is good, because he isn’t a strong athlete (4.86, 30 inch vert).
– Last two things. Bucky Hodges and George Kittle timed and tested well but I don’t think their timed speed translates on the field. Kittle can hang his hat on being a good blocker with big time leg drive. Hodges? If you saw him, he looked junior prom awkward in his three point stance.