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Old 03-01-2010, 03:22 PM   #1
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Default McShay Combine Report

Best answers questions about speed
By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.

Editor's note: Results in the 40-yard dash and other timed events are unofficial unless otherwise noted.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Most of the top running backs in the 2010 class made themselves some money on Sunday.

California's Jahvid Best turned in the top 40-yard dash time among running backs at 4.35 seconds (official) and looked impressive during drills. He showed great lateral quickness and was natural catching the football. Best remains a fringe first-rounder because his aggressive running style only increases concerns about his durability, but his performance in Indy certainly helps his cause.

C.J. Spiller of Clemson -- the No. 1 back on our board -- was right behind Best with an official 4.37. Spiller also put up 18 reps on the bench press and his top-end speed combined with his versatility has locked him in at the top of the class.

Mathews shows versatility
Fresno State's Ryan Mathews showed good speed for his size (5-foot-11⅝, 218 pounds) with a 4.41, and the downhill runner continues to pick up steam as the draft approaches. Mathews played a minimal role in the passing game in college but caught the ball well at the combine, tracking it well and looking natural bringing it in.

Good showings for bigger backs
A few of the bigger running backs exceeded expectations on Sunday. Chief among them was Tennessee's Montario Hardesty, who has bulked up to 225 pounds but still ran an official 4.49.

Hardesty is an NFL-style runner who plays with good leverage and gets behind his pads, and now he has some explosiveness to go with his tough running style. He also showed the ability to bring the ball in as a receiver. Hardesty's durability could keep him out of the first two rounds, but we think he's worth the risk in Round 3.

Auburn's Ben Tate and Stanford's Toby Gerhart also helped their respective causes. Tate (5-11, 220) put up an official 4.43, and impressive results in the broad jump (10-foot-4) and 225-pound bench press (26 repetitions), while also finishing tied for second place in the vertical jump (40½ inches). He carried over the momentum from a good Senior Bowl week and helped himself this week.

Scouts know Gerhart is a bruising runner but he showed more explosiveness and speed in drills than expected on Sunday. He ran an unofficial 40 time in the mid-4.5 range and he finished in the top eight among running backs in bench press (26), vertical jump (38 inches), broad jump (9-10) and three-cone drill (6.94 seconds).

Underwhelming performances
The one top back who didn't perform well was Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer. He looked sluggish clocking at 4.64 in the 40 and Dwyer's struggles catching the ball only increase concerns about what he can contribute on third down. He is in danger of falling out of the top 50 picks of the upcoming draft.

Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss had a tough day by his standards, posting a 40 time of 4.55 and seeming to lack focus while dropping some passes. Because of his diminutive frame (5-8¾, 172) McCluster needed to prove his speed and he did not do a good job of that, but he did show ridiculous strength for his size by ripping off 20 reps on the bench press.

The showing by LeGarrette Blount of Oregon was a bit of a mixed bag. Blount has been proactive in interviews and helped to diffuse massive concerns regarding his character issues. He also is in good shape at 241 pounds. However, he ran a pair of 40 times in the mid-4.6-second range and he fought the ball a bit during pass-catching drills.

Some other disappointing 40 times from the running back group: USC's Stafon Johnson (4.66), Wayne State's Joique Bell (4.65) and Connecticut's Andre Dixon (4.68).

Quarterback report
The four big-name quarterbacks in the 2010 class -- Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, Texas' Colt McCoy and Florida's Tim Tebow -- did not throw on Sunday at the NFL combine but plenty of storylines emerged from the quarterback workouts.

The first was Tebow's performance in the other drills, which proved he is a better athlete than we thought. Tebow tied Josh McCown's quarterback record with a 38.5-inch vertical jump, notched a 9-7 broad jump and ran an official 4.72 in the 40.

Perhaps more importantly, early reports from three different teams indicate that Tebow is benefiting from the interview process. He has a lot to learn about the NFL passing game but he's showing the mental capacity, passion for the game and coachability to get caught up.

Tebow is making it perfectly clear that quarterback is the position he expects to play in the NFL. Still, should a Plan B become necessary a few years down the road, at least these workout numbers ease concerns about his top-end speed and explosiveness. More immediately it makes his candidacy as a potential triggerman in a Wildcat-type package a bit stronger.

Is Tebow's stock soaring because of a faster-than-anticipated 40 time and some impressive jumps? No, but it's safe to say he departs Indianapolis with a stronger scouting report than when he left Mobile, Ala., following last month's Senior Bowl.

Next up for Tebow is the much-anticipated Florida pro day on March 17, when he will unveil his new-look delivery in front of a packed house of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers.

LeFevour's questionable decision
Scouts were disappointed that Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour -- who is also retooling his delivery -- opted to throw only to stationary targets, and that disappointment was compounded by the lack of arm strength LeFevour displayed.

He missed a chance to take another positive step and carry over the momentum he gained with a strong Senior Bowl week, but LeFevour's 4.66 in the 40 was second-best among quarterbacks, so the day was not a complete wash.

Pike's delivery improved
Cincinnati's Tony Pike is the third quarterback in the class to adjust his delivery and Pike showed a release that got the ball out of his hand more quickly. He was a little inconsistent with his accuracy, but there is surely an adjustment period after tweaking his delivery and the long-term benefits should outweigh the short-term inconsistency.

Brown's athleticism shines through
The combine is the perfect venue for a quarterback like West Virginia's Jarrett Brown to show off his physical skills, and Brown did not disappoint. He looked good throwing the ball, showing a nice release and putting good zip on the ball when throwing out routes.

Brown's footwork is still choppy, he is too erratic with his accuracy and he still must develop the mental side of his game (reading defenses and finding the open man). But there's no denying his outstanding physical tools. His 4.54 in the 40 was best among quarterbacks and he posted a 34.4 vertical jump, showing that he also has the athleticism to move to another position if necessary.

On a side note, Penn State's Darryl Clark and Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards could also be headed for position changes. Clark notched 21 reps on the bench press, which is good if he's moving to running back. The problem is he's too bulked up and it affects his overall accuracy as a passer.

Meanwhile, Edwards simply lacks the size and skill set to be an NFL quarterback, but he showed some good raw potential when running some routes with the wide receivers and should begin working out as a wide receiver immediately.

Snead continues to slide
Mississippi's Jevan Snead carried the ball low in his drops and it's obvious that he needs a lot of mechanical work, especially his footwork. In addition, he has some tightness in his hips and he wasn't nearly as fast as expected (5.0 in the 40).

To his credit, though, Snead displayed good arm strength and above-average accuracy during passing drills. It's certainly not enough to overcome the game tape that NFL teams are studying from Snead's junior season, but at least he was able to showcase enough upside to warrant midround consideration.

Wide receiver report
The wide receiver group looked good as a whole despite the absence of top prospects Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State) and Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech), both of whom sat out drills due to injury.

Bryant showed up in tremendous shape and remains the No. 1 wideout on our board, and while Thomas is a bit raw and has to prove his top-end speed, his size (6-3¼, 224) and game film make him a second-round prospect despite the fact that he is a bit raw.

Illinois' Arrelious Benn and Notre Dame's Golden Tate took advantage of the additional spotlight and solidified their standings with scouts.

Tate's official 4.42 in the 40 was big for him because scouts came into the weekend with concerns about his top-end speed and whether he was more quick than fast. His time proved, however, that he has the burst to run away from defenders after the catch and in the return game if used in that role in the NFL.

Benn turned in an unofficial 4.48 in the 40 and a 37-inch vertical, and he showed good strength with 20 reps on the bench press. Benn is a bit tightly wound but he has great quickness for his size and he eats up everything thrown his way. Benn should be high on the priority list for teams in search of wide receiver help in the bottom half of the first round, including the Bengals (No. 21), Ravens (No. 25) and Jets (No. 29).

Sleeper prospects emerging
A few under-the-radar prospects had big days on Sunday, starting with Ohio's Taylor Price. We had our eye on Price coming in and he did not disappoint with an official 40 time of 4.41 -- second-best among wideouts -- and a 37-inch vertical.

We like the way Price runs routes and drops his weight in and out of breaks, and he showed soft, natural hands when securing balls during the gauntlet. Add his speed to all the other traits he has and it's easy to see why we feel Price would be a steal in the third round.

Connecticut's Marcus Easley showed good explosiveness with a 10-3 broad jump and there is a lot to like about the way he tracks deep passes. The 6-3, 210-pounder ran the seventh-fastest 40 time of the wide receivers and he also looked good in the gauntlet. Easley is a former walk-on with limited game experience, but he clearly has the raw tools to warrant midround consideration as a developmental project.

Finally, SMU's Emmanuel Sanders tied for the second-best 40 among wideouts with a 4.41. He also finished in the top five in both the vertical (39.5) and broad jumps (10-6). He lacks ideal size (5-10⅞, 186) but shows the initial burst, explosiveness and hands to develop into a dangerous slot receiver at the next level. Sanders could come off the board as early as Round 3.

Mixed reviews
Brandon LaFell of LSU continued the up-and-down performances that plagued him during the college season. LaFell's 4.60 in the 40 was disappointing and while he showed strong hands early in the gauntlet drill, he could not recover from his first drop, which is a microcosm of the focus issues we see when studying his game tape.

Dezmon Briscoe of Kansas also had a tough day. Briscoe has the size and athleticism to play outside, but his 4.61 in the 40 was disappointing and it raises issues regarding his big-play potential in the NFL. He also needs to get stronger -- only nine bench-press reps -- and become more consistent catching the ball in traffic.

Shay Hodge of Ole Miss needed a good 40 time to convince scouts he has the ability to stretch the field, but he posted just a 4.63 and let far too many balls get to his body. He certainly did nothing to change our late-round grade on him.

Ford's speed can't mask holes
Clemson's Jacoby Ford blazed an official 40 time of 4.28, which is the top result thus far in 2010 and is the second-fastest posted at the combine since 2000. However, Ford's track speed does not always translate to the field. He struggles to transition in and out of breaks, lacks overall fluidity and has inconsistent hands. Ford is likely to be over-drafted because you can't coach his burst, but we would have a hard time considering Ford before Round 5.

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998. Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl also contributed to this report.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:28 PM   #2
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Blount, Gerhart or Dwyer will be Broncos by the end of draft weekend.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by BroncoMan4ever View Post
Blount, Gerhart or Dwyer will be Broncos by the end of draft weekend.
Agreed, we need a big back. Of those three I would like Dwyer.
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:53 PM   #4
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Blount, Gerhart or Dwyer will be Broncos by the end of draft weekend.
I seriously doubt that we would pick Blount due to character concerns, but you could always add Ben Tate to that list in his place.
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:12 PM   #5
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Funny McShay was hating on the guy we interviewed:

Quote:
Underwhelming performances
The one top back who didn't perform well was Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer. He looked sluggish clocking at 4.64 in the 40 and Dwyer's struggles catching the ball only increase concerns about what he can contribute on third down. He is in danger of falling out of the top 50 picks of the upcoming draft.
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:49 PM   #6
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I seriously doubt that we would pick Blount due to character concerns, but you could always add Ben Tate to that list in his place.
outside of that 1 game where he punched out an opponent, i don't recall any other character flaws with the guy, and every player has their breaking point. Look at Clady, he seems like a quiet pretty chill dude, but when Seymour pulled his hair, he was ready to beat some ass.

i tend to feel his character concerns aren't that worrisome as many make them out to be.

another guy i would be interested in the later rounds is Anthony Dixon.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:45 PM   #7
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I would LOVE to get Gerhart. He's just a great football player.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:37 PM   #8
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Gerhart is a beast with a non-stop motor. But, what about Hillis?
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:51 PM   #9
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I would LOVE to get Gerhart. He's just a great football player.
I agree but...Gehart has a serious case of the white-idis, and won't be given a fair shot in the NFL.
Craig James The last white running back in the NFL to top 1000 yards, gaining 1227 for the 1985 Patriots. (25 years ago)
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