The Saturday at the 2015 NFL Combine is always the biggest hype day because that is the day that the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers hit the field. The forty yard dash is the signature event, but all the events including the vertical, broad jump, and multiple cone runs show a lot in terms of player’s deep speed, quickness, and burst. We also get to see the quarterbacks throw. From there, we can see their footwork, their ability to hit windows, and their arm strength. It’s the day of the combine that if you want to get casual fans interested, you show them this. Let’s get to some of the highlights from Saturday for the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.
With all due respect to all the other quarterbacks at the 2015 NFL Combine, everyone was locked on the top two quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Mariota impressed by running a 4.52 forty even with the additional seven pounds of weight. Winston ran a 4.97 forty, but he was never known as a runner anyway and in comparison, #3 overall pick last year, Blake Bortles, ran a 4.93. Both Winston and Mariota threw accurately and mostly on point and showed good footwork. Mariota had better overall numbers, but that was expected as he’s the better athlete. Neither did anything to hurt them in terms of contending to be the #1 player taken in the 2015 NFL draft.
Of the other quarterbacks, Blake Sims ran a 4.57 and Nick Marshall ran a 4.54, but neither was really great with their accuracy in throwing the football. Sean Mannion showed off his arm strength, but his footwork looked a little choppy. Brent Hundley ran a 4.63 forty. With him having the biggest hands of all quarterbacks, which is important, and him running that well, he looks to have solidified himself as the 3rd quarterback to be chosen in the draft this year. Bryce Petty showed some great throws and some bad ones today. He ran the forty at 4.87.
The wide receivers put on a show for the viewers on Saturday, with many of them putting up very fast times to the point will NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt said that this was the “Fastest group of wide receivers I’ve ever been around at the NFL Combine.” There were numerous wide receivers to produce a number of 4.5 or lower. To be exact 20 of the 39 wide receiver that ran the forty, ran a sub 4.5 number, which is just a ridiculously high amount. Add that to the size that a lot of the players that ran it are and you have one of the most athletic wide receiving groups that we’ve ever had at the combines. The fastest time was ran by JJ Nelson, who ran a crazy fast 4.28 forty.
Kevin White put on the biggest show of the known wide receivers, running a 4.35 forty. He also was good in the catching drills making some great hand catches in the wide receiver adjustment drill. Amari Cooper notched a 4.42 forty time which was almost exactly what Sammy Watkins did last year and Cooper is widely known as a better route runner. My top slot wide receiver prospect, Tyler Locker, showed good quick speed, caught the ball very well and put up a 4.40 forty. Jaelen Strong also did himself very well putting up a 4.44 forty after weighing in at 6’2 217 pounds. The monster of the group, Dorial Green Beckham put up and insane 4.49 forty after measuring 6’5 237 pounds.
Of the other wide receivers, one of the lesser known guys that blew everyone out the water in terms of drill numbers, Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley had a 45 inch vertical, top three in the last 10 years, he ran a 4.35 forty time, and an 11 foot 7 inch broad jump, which is unheard of. Showed some inconsistency in catching the football, but at 6’2 and 212 pounds, Conley definitely improved his draft stock. Sammie Coates showed some of the inconsistency in his hands that I’ve talked about previously and DeVante Parker seemed to cruise through some of the drills by not running at top speed.
Running backs as a whole seemed to disappoint with their forty times with the fastest time coming from Jeremy Langford. Melvin Gordon ran a 4.52, Ameer Abdullah ran a 4.61, TJ Yeldon ran a 4.65, and Duke Johnson ran a 4.55. Two other top running backs, Tevin Campbell and Todd Gurley, did not run. However, almost all the running backs seemed to be familiar with catching the football. Ameer Abdullah looked comfortable catching passes out the backfield, while Melvin Gordon and Duke Johnson let it get into their bodies a bit, but neither had noticeable drops. TJ Yeldon had the bad luck of having a quarterback that made catches look easy, so he wasn’t able to show his ability to adjust to the ball.
Next up, we’ll see the defensive linemen and linebackers take the field. Some of the hot names to watch will be Leonard Williams, Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler, Shane Ray, and Danny Shelton, all of which could go within the 1st 10 picks of the NFL draft. These are the guys that will be causing quarterbacks havoc for the next 10 years. While the top two quarterbacks and Amari Cooper will get big headlines, defense should control the top half of the 1st round. No matter what, with the amount of extraordinary athletes at this year’s combine, you’re sure to see some amazing performances.
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