NFL Scouting Combine: What We Learned


Last week we posted an article outlining what some of the key areas to watch for at the NFL Combine were. Today, we break down what we learned from the weekend in Indianapolis.

1. The Quarterbacks – What did we learn? Well, nothing new really. We found out that Johnny Manziel is indeed as athletic as we thought. He posted a 4.68 40 time, the 4th best among quarterbacks. He also posted a 9’5″ broad jump and a very impressive 6.75 second time in the three cone drill and 4.03 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle. Blake Bortles, the product out of Central Florida, also performed well enough to maintain his draft position. Bortles jumped a respectable 32.5″ in the vertical leap and 9’7″ in the broad jump. Both Manziel and Bortles did plenty to stay at the top of many teams’ draft boards.

The big story with the quarterbacks was Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater barely participated in the drills in Indy. He did not throw. He did not run the 40. I personally do not understand the logic behind that at all. Why even show up as a quarterback if you aren’t going to throw the ball? This puts a lot of pressure on Bridgewater to perform well in his pro day at Louisville.

2. Michael Sam – By this point, everyone knows the story of Michael Sam. The Mizzou defensive end and co-defensive player in the SEC publicly came out a few weeks back and is the first openly gay NFL prospect to be entering the draft. There were a lot of eyes on Sam this weekend, and unfortunately, he did not perform very well. Sam ran just a 4.91 second 40 yard dash, he benched just 17 reps at 225 pounds, and he jumped just 25.5 inches in the vertical. None of these numbers rank any where near the top. In fact, his bench press mark was tied for the second worst among defensive linemen. For a player trying to break down barriers in the NFL, this was not the performance that Sam was hoping for.

3. Jadeveon Clowney – Clowney had a great combine! Or a terrible one….I’m not really sure. At least you wouldn’t be sure if you were paying attention via social media. Twitter was blowing up with people saying how fast his 40 time was!….but how terrible his bench press was! I break it down like this. Clowney is an athletic freak. Anything he did on the field at the combine is almost a moot point for me. We knew he was going to run a fast time. We knew he was going to come across as the physical beast that he is. What will make or break Jadeveon Clowney in the NFL is his work ethic. Will he be the first one in to the office and the last one to leave every day? General managers are going to find this stuff out in interviews, not on the field. So while not much was learned about Clowney this weekend, we at least got affirmation that he is the biggest physical freak in this class.

4. Talent In The Trenches – The one winner in the trenches for me was Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh. He absolutely shined. Other than his short arm reach, Donald was a beast. On the flip side, Auburn’s Dee Ford was a huge disappointment. Ford was quoted before the combine as saying that Cowney was overrated and that he was in fact better than the South Carolina product. Clowney responded with a blazing fast 40 time. And Ford? Well he pulled out of all the drills at the combine. So much for putting your money where your mouth is.

5. Wide Receivers – The wide receivers did not disappoint, specifically Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks. Cooks, the 2013 Biletnikoff winner, ran the fastest 40 time for wide receivers with a 4.33. There’s a chance that Cooks felt overshadowed by Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and others. If anyone helped their draft stock this weekend, it was Brandin Cooks.

6. The 40 Yard Dash – Always the most anticipated drill of the combine and this year we got some blazing speeds. The big names like Sammy Watkins did not run as fast as some had expected, but we were treated with little known Dri Archer of Kent State and his 4.26 second 40. To put that into perspective; Chris Johnson, the Titans running back and ECU product, ran a 4.24 40 at his combine, the fastest recorded time. Additionally, there have only been 10 other times turned in below 4.3 since computer clocks have been in use. Archer, a running back, was by far the fastest player in Indy and probably helped improve his draft spot with his insanely fast time.