NFL Draft

NFL Combine Day Two: What To Watch For

Get ready for a long and action-packed day two of the 2018 NFL Combine. On tap? Quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends. Here’s what we’re looking for at each position group Saturday.

Quarterback

– Ideally, the Steelers don’t wind up selecting one. But they’ve already met with a couple high-profile guys in Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson. Rudolph will get his first work in with his college career over; a foot sprain held him out of the Senior Bowl. Jackson has said he won’t run the 40, which is fine, because everyone already knows he’s a tremendous athlete and we don’t need a 40 time to determine that.

Broadly speaking, and you’ll hear Mike Mayock preach this ten times today, it’s not about a QB completing passes. No one cares about that. It’s about footwork, form, release, and ball placement based on what the route calls for.

So many of these QBs have little to no experience taking snaps under center. Like Rudolph. How have they, especially him, since he was hurt, worked on it? How comfortable do they look in their three step game, throwing a slant or flat? Their five step, hitting the intermediate crosser? Their seven step, throwing the deep ball? Are their steps correct? Are they getting depth early and gathering at the top? Transferring weight? Not locking the front knee out (that’ll cause the ball to sail)? Following through?

It’s all important. Even realizing this is a league where QBs take most of their snaps out of the gun.

Josh Allen should put on a show. Hose of an arm and this is an environment he’ll thrive in. Just don’t overreact if he goes out there and kills it.

– I’m a big fan of USF’s Quinton Flowers, who gets no love because he’s viewed as too much of a runner and might have to make a position-switch. Even if that’s true, he’s got a ton of talent and is a draftable player. Let’s see how he tests and if he winds up working out at any other position.

Tanner Lee needs to show consistency. Something he should be able to do on air but something he failed at the Senior Bowl. Dude can rip it. But his placement is spotty. And I’m being generous.

– Remember, Sam Darnold isn’t throwing. Josh Rosen, Allen, and Baker Mayfield are. A heads up when you don’t see QB5 slinging it.

Wide Receiver

Braxton Berrios is a tough slot receiver with return value. His three cone and other agility drills will be key. Should excel there.

Antonio Callaway is one of the reasons why the Combine was created. Some serious off the field issues. He was one of the Gators caught in a credit card fraud scandal and ultimately didn’t play last year. But the talent is serious (19.4 yards per catch his freshman year) and that’s why he’s here. To test well, show he isn’t rusty away from the game, and answer some difficult questions to NFL clubs.

– Haven’t watched him but hearing a lot of good things about Texas Tech WR Keke Coutee. Slot receiver at 5’9/6 181 who should test very well. He’ll probably get comps to a former Red Raider Jakeem Grant, though Coutee doesn’t have an ounce of the return value/experience Grant did.

– Penn State’s DaeSean Hamilton should be one of the prettiest route runners in Indy. Wondering how he’ll test in the 40 (think it’ll be good, not great) and if he can consistently bring the ball in away from his body. Hands are one of his top concerns.

– If the Steelers want to wait a round and then go after a WR, consider Washington’s Dante Pettis. He’s going to solve their PR problems.¬†Nine¬†career punt return touchdowns, including four on just 21 returns. Incredible. He should run in the 4.4’s.

– Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown was a four star recruit coming out of high school. Never matched that hype in college (33 catches last year, left a season early) but the talent is still there. He could surprise.

James Washington could fly here. Even if he doesn’t (and he’ll still test well) he’s one of the best deep threats of all these guys. Proved it down in Mobile. Career average of 19.8 yards and went over the 20 barrier his senior season.

– And you guys know I’m big on Cedrick Wilson Jr. Really interested to see what his 40 time is. Low 4.4’s?

– Two other names who will probably make noise today: SMU’s Courtland Sutton and Maryland’s D.J. Moore.

Tight End

– Underrated class and one the Steelers seem to have a lot of interest in. Mark Andrews is a name we heard early in the draft process but not a lot of noise lately. Let’s see how he tests.

– A reminder that the Steelers still highlight blocking over pretty much everything else. And you’re not going to get a great measure of that at the Combine, though you’ll get one or two blocking drills. Some of the best blockers? UW’s Will Dissy, Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli, and Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe. All three who have interviewed with the team. No surprise there.

Ian Thomas breaks that mold a bit as a seam threat downfield. Hopefully he turns in some impressive numbers.

– And you can never count out a Buckeye making his way to Pittsburgh. Marcus Baugh has good size and length (6’3/4 247, 33 1/2 inch arms) who found the end zone five times last year, four of those coming inside the red zone.

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