Sports

2012 NFL Combine Notes: Andrew Luck, RGIII, Quarterbacks, Running Backs and More

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Out of all of the days at the NFL Combine, this is the one that fans enjoy the most. Sundays mark the day that the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers get to perform. What made this one different was the fact that the NFL actually allowed fans into to watch. 

I wonder how many men brought their casual football loving wife by telling them, “hey do you want to go down to Lucas Oil stadium and watch some football” and then had to leave early after she asked “what the hell is this $#%&!!! Anyway, for those that remained in attendance and those watching on their TV sets at home…this was the buzz.

1.  Andrew Luck & Robert Griffin III - Come on, you know you can’t talk about the buzz on quarterback day and not mention either one of these guys. The NFL Network placed such importance on Griffin that they interviewed him right in the middle of the second wide receiver group running the gauntlet, which is one of their most entertaining and telling drills. I can’t say that I blame them though, it’s not like they will get another million chances to interview him over the next two months. I was shocked at how surprised everyone was at how athletic Andrew Luck was. 

The story surrounding Luck was how he put up comparable numbers to Cam Newton from last year’s combine. Luck ran an official 4.67 forty were as Cam ran 4.59. Luck fell just two inches short of Cam’s broad jump of 10’6″. He even surpassed Newton’s 35″ vertical by jumping 36″. I’ve heard the people whispering that Andrew wasn’t mobile, maybe this will put that to bed. Griffin ran a 4.41 forty, but I don’t think that surprised anyone. He’s a track star! The real news came out during the interview that blocked all of the on field activities of the kids that need the exposure. Griffin said that he was interviewed by the 49ers and the Vikings, among all of the other expected teams. He did say that San Francisco may have just interviewed him to get the inside scoop on Kendall Wright. However, the Vikings one is intriguing because we don’t know if Minnesota is truly sold on Christian Ponder. Yes, they did use a first on Ponder last year but what if they think they can trade Ponder and that Griffin is clearly better than Christian?

2.  Kirk Cousins - It feels like I’m living out the movie “Groundhog Day” every time Cousins throws at an event where there aren’t any blitzes. The masses came away impressed with Kirk’s performance in Indy today. They are the save one’s that raved about what he did at the Senior Bowl. What’s Cousins’ biggest weakness? How he handles the blitz. Cousins looks the part and threw great without any offensive linemen, defensive linemen, fans, quarterback pressure, etc. Every year people get impressed by what a guy does when he’s in an ideal situation but neglect the game film that clearly shows he throws off his back foot and plays horrible when he comes under pressure. Kirk Cousins is this year’s version.  Someone will over draft Kirk and he won’t have the time to develop in the NFL. He’s best suited to go to a team in the middle to late rounds and compete to be a backup. This will allow him to sit for 3 years and understand how to react to pressure.

3.  Nick Foles - 6’5 - 243 - 10 5/8 hands - Foles was the most criticized on TV today and of course the media drones that blindly hold everything said on TV as truth, have gobbled this all up. Once again, like the Cousins situation but only backwards, here’s another case of people making the same mistakes year after year and never learning from it. Every year a quarterback comes out that didn’t take snaps from under center. They struggle to learn the footwork of dropping back. By the time they’ve gone through OTAs, mini camp, training camp, and preseason, they looked a thousand times better. I guess people forget because the last time this happen was waaayyy back in 2011 with a guy who didn’t get drafted until the first pick overall. He struggled to learn the footwork and he still has flaws. That could be what cost him to only pass for a little over 4,000 yards as a rookie and 21 touchdowns. I’m not saying that Floes is Nick is Cam Newton, they are two completely different players but the problem with the footwork is the same.  They also like to call Foles inconsistent. Well, let’s look at his stats as a starter for the last three seasons.  He must have only had a 50% completion percentage and a roller coaster ride of a career, right?

Hmmm, so his yards increased every year, his completion percentage increased every year, his touchdowns increased every year, his quarterback rating increased every year, and he always maintained a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. Geez, what was this guy, bi-polar or something. He’s all over the place. Seriously, Foles has to improve his footwork but he can make every throw and he’s smart. He’s the third best prospect right now. Ryan Tannehill has bigger upside but he’s also a bigger risk.

4.  Jordan Jefferson - Another case of a new year but same mistake. Every year there is a guy that is fun to watch. He pulls his arm back and unleashes bombs. Jefferson has a cannon of an arm and the ball flies out of it. When nobody was on his receivers or him and he was play catch with his fellow underwear wearing friends, he completed so many passes and he threw the ball hard. THE END.  Wait, there’s more? Yes, apparently people were impressed by this, people on TV that watch game film for a living. I realize that Jordan wasn’t in the ideal situation in college as they rotated the quarterbacks but if he was an accurate in-game passer do you think they would have rotated the two kids? You want inconsistent accuracy? Here’s the poster boy. If he didn’t throw hard, then no one would have mentioned him today.

5.  Case Keenum & Darron Thomas - I watched both of these kids personally in Houston over the years. I watched Case here, while he was at U of H and Darron while he was in high school. A completely honest assessment of their throwing today would be me saying that it was one of the worst ever. I couldn’t tell you who was worse because they both were so awful. Case was bouncing passes like a 1950 NBA practice and Darron was floating the ball so short that receivers couldn’t even come all the way back for it.

6.  Russell Wilson - 5’10 – 5/8 - 204 - 10 1/4″ hands 4.55 - He looked good as always. I was amazed by how big his hands were, despite being one of the shortest quarterback prospects. He’s played well this whole time and should earn a draft pick in the middle rounds. By that time, the risk of his height will outweigh the risk of the talent level of the quarterbacks remaining on the board.

7.  Austin Davis - Davis had a great combine and will force people to go back and watch his game film.  We liked what we saw initially but were concerned with his height and a few bad games we saw. He was in consideration of our top 10 quarterbacks and we’ll have to revisit the issue again. Davis looked good in all aspects of his workouts.

8.  Stephen Hill - No one helped themselves at the combine more than Hill, in my opinion. The thing with Hill was that we really liked what we saw on tape but the problem is, there isn’t much tape. Georgia Tech ran a triple option attack and hardly through the ball. Hill only had 28 catches this season. He made some spectacular play and we loved his speed, size, and hands. We just had too many questions and couldn’t fully grasp his talent level without more consistent targets. Most of the talk surrounding Hill today was the fact that he ran a 4.36 forty yard dash and that he did that even though he’s 6’4 and 215 pounds. There’s a ton of guys that can run fast and we already knew he was fast, but not that fast. What impressed us was the fact the he also added 39.5″ vertical and more importantly he showed that he’s one of the most natural hand catchers in the draft. We questioned his route running on tape and more so at the combine.  But, due to the fact that he wasn’t asked to do much of it as a Yellow Jacket and how clearly talented he is, I would take the risk as a front office guy towards the bottom part of the 1st round.

9.  Tommy Steeter - Tommy or the anti-Stephen as we call him, didn’t impress us as much as others.  He’s one of those size + speed guy – talent = ???s. He has elite size (6’5  219 lbs) and speed (4.40) but he’s extremely raw. I don’t care if he ran 4.20, I wouldn’t draft him in the first two days. He’s too raw and offers a huge bust factor. He doesn’t run great routes and he has bad hands. The later in the draft you go, the better value you get on a guy like Streeter. When you get towards the 4th round and later and all prospects are a risk, it may make sense to a team to take a chance then. They would have to know that he has a lot of developing to do. But, if they could mold him, he would be a weapon, it’s just not worth the risk in the first three rounds and the fourth is pushing it.

10.  Michael Floyd - 6’2 5/8 - 220 - 4.47 – Floyd continued to prove he’s the real deal. He’s a big body, sure handed receiver. There is minimal risk with Floyd, outside of past character issues. With his size and super glue hands, his value will continue to go up. NFL teams love their taller receivers and there are several teams lacking size at their receiver position. Floyd does everything well, my only complaint is his lack of physicality after the catch. I would like to see him become more aggressive, like other receivers of his stature. This shouldn’t hold him back from going early on in the NFL draft.

11.  Devon Wylie - Devon really impressed me and I admittedly didn’t watch enough Fresno film, obviously. While he’s only 5’9 1/4 he still has 9 1/2 inch hands and displayed a 39″ vertical. Several players came in with fast times but Wylie ran routes on Sunday at that same speed of his 4.39 forty.  Other players that timed as well didn’t run with their top end speed as comfortably as Devon. I’m not signing off on this kid yet but after his combine, I’ll definitely go take a deeper look at his film.

12.  Marvin Jones - We’ve liked Marvin Jones all along. I can’t understand why more people aren’t singing his praises. He came in just a hair shy of 6’2 and weighed in at 199. Everything you saw on film translated at the combine. His 4.46 speed shows on tape and he may play even faster than that. He catches everything in sight and that can be explained better now, after finding out that he had the second largest hands of any receiver in Indy, 10 1/4. The receiver position is a deep one this year and Jones is a clear second rounder.

13.  AJ Jenkins - For some reason or another I always come away with the same feeling about AJ. I see the production and big game performances but I’m not WOWed. He’s one of those under the radar guys that isn’t going to stick out with the rest of the group at the head of the class but he will be a player in the NFL and stick on a roster. Jenkins is 6’0 1/4, weighed in at 190, ran 4.39, and jumped an impressive 38.5″ vertical. After all of the bigger, flashier players are off the board, a team will take him and get amazing value.

14.  Juron Criner - 6’3 – 224 -10 1/2 hands - 38″ vertical – I’ve been a big fan of Criner all year. He showed his toughness earlier this year when he came back early from surgery after getting his appendix removed. He’s a tough kid that won’t let his team down. I’ve always loved his hands and how he catches with ease. I found out today that he has the biggest hands of all of the wideouts in Indy. While there are a few extremely talented, first round receivers, this maybe one of the best years to trade back and pick up a few of the second round guys. Some will question Criner’s 4.68 speed, but he finds the separation and next to Blackmon, he’s probably the best at physically getting up field after the catch of all the bigger wideouts.

15.  Mohamed Sanu - I haven’t been too fond of Sanu all along. When I heard all of the buzz about Sanu as a first round talent, I figured it was the same people that recently had Alshon Jeffery in the same place. Don’t get me wrong, I think Mohamed can play in the NFL, but, he won’t be more than a possession receiver and one that doesn’t strive in getting yards after the catch. I didn’t see Sanu or Jeffery separate from the defense a lot on tape and his combined testing matched up with his on film work. Sanu came in at 6’1 1/2, 211 lbs, and ran a 4.67 forty. Once again, Sanu proves that size does matter as his hands measured 10 1/8 inches and is one of the most reliable catchers.

16.  Rueben Randle & Kendall Wright - Randle and Wright didn’t do anything to hurt their stock. Wright did time slow in the forty (4.61) but he plays so much faster on tape that I don’t believe any NFL scouts would actually be turned off by the time showing on the watch. Other than looking like he could be Bernie Mac’s son, there was no real big news of note for Wright. I guess it’s just a thing with the Baylor play makers to look like other celebrities as his teammate RG3 once upon a time was in a group called “OutKast” and went by Andre 3000… I’m sorry Ms. Jackson. Randle didn’t run anywhere close to the 4.3 that was being passed through the grapevine but it doesn’t matter as he looked the part. Running 4.55 for a 6’3 guy isn’t to shabby.  I still don’t see the first round talent that others do but I do believe he’s in the mix with that group of second round talent.

17.  Hey Hey Hey, Where’s Fat Al……..shon  - Okay, I guess I have to quit my fat jokes for Alshon Jeffery. He showed up to the combine at 216. But please don’t mistake that for me having to think this guy is the talent that he flashed two years ago. I probably take this too personal but when a kid has all this god gifted talent and wastes because of his love of the Golden Corral buffet or whatever is hot for the kids in Columbia, SC, then it infuriates me. There are so many that wish they could have lived out their dream of being a professional athlete but they either wasn’t tall enough, had medical problems, or other issues. I feel under the second, I always planned on playing professional basketball and my backup plan was playing ball overseas. 

A side effect from a prescription drug ended my playing career in high school. What’s Alshon’s health problem? His greed for food or lack of self discipline, you can pick either but I don’t feel sorry for a lazy kid that had the world at his fingertips. For all of the people that wrote or said that now he can earn himself back into the first round that don’t have a clue, I guess they were proud of him losing 14 pounds in 2 months. Why? He only lost it so he can sign a contract for millions and then he’ll get fat again. I lost 10 pounds in two weeks. I’m 12 years older, have four kids, don’t have a personal trainer, and have to watch college game film of prospects like his fat ass for 70-80 hours per week. Why should we trust that he will have discipline when he gets millions of dollars and a longer leash and no goal to strive for? I was still eager to watch him work out, especially after he said he hope to run in the 4.4 to 4.5 range. So, how did he do? He ran better than 4.4!  He ran a 0.0 because his new slim frame decided that he would just go to the combine to look pretty and hopefully fit back into his high school prom dress.

18.  Running Backs - I’ll lump them all together because no one really showed me anything different then what I initially thought. The only one that came close was David Wilson. We liked his film but were and still are concerned about his east to west running. Obviously, he’s just going to run north and south at the combine but he was just fluid with everything he did, including how naturally he caught. We’ve been big on Doug Martin from the start and he just confirmed everything we liked about him. He’s an impressive, well built individual and let everyone know that by throwing up 225 lbs 28 times. Lamar Miller still fails to impress me. He didn’t show elite speed. Maybe if he ran in the low 4.2s I could see a reason to draft a speed back that only plays well when there’s a hole in front of him.

There’s a reason I try not to get into a player’s back story, as it will make me want to root for a kid. Well, the NFL Network ruined that by telling Robert Turbin’s tragic life story. I hope he can make it in the NFL and have a long career but as a professional, I would be scared to draft a big, physical running back that has already had two knee injuries. Tauren Poole is another guy that continues to impress and intrigue us. Poole might not have Arian Foster’s success in the NFL but he will be another Vol that doesn’t get a lot of draft attention and becomes successful at the next level. Isaiah Pead still looks as smooth as running water out there. I guess because he isn’t in Mike Mayock’s top 5 running back’s list that they couldn’t talk about how well he performed in each drill. Pead can be successful in other systems but I hope he goes to a zone system. If he does, he will put up amazing numbers. Two guys that I’ve been watching all along and still don’t know what to think of, are Edwin Baker and Jewel Hampton. I’ll continue to watch as they progress up to April.

I hope that help catch you up with any action you may have missed on Sunday. I’ll keep watching and I’ll be back with a wrap on Monday’s Buzz after the defensive linemen and linebackers work out.

Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock
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