Which wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks shined on Sunday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis? Which players fit what Tampa Bay may be looking for in April's Draft? Get the latest from Pewter Report right here in this feature.
The QBs, Wrs, and RBs were the second group of NFL
prospects who went through the annual pre-draft NFL Combine in
Indianapolis Sunday, hoping to improve their status for the NFL draft
in late April.
Inside Lucas Oil Stadium NFL coaches, scouts and pro
player personnel had their eyes glued to the three units in hopes of
solidifying their opinions of the prospects or maybe even finding a
This year’s crop of college quarterbacks is night and day from last season, there just aren’t any Andrew Lucks or Robert Griffins among the class. But are there a few Nick Foles or Russell Wilsons? That is where the NFL brass will earn their money this season, in trying to identify a diamond in the rough.
Geno Smith, expected to be the first Qb selected, was great at some things yet struggled with other aspects of the day. His Sunday workout was a microcosm of his 2012 college season – dynamic, then inconsistent. Potentially Smith can become an excellent NFL QB but needs to find great coaching and be willing to take the advice while putting it to use. Physically he has all the tools.
Since the end of the college bowl season, no QB has seen their stock rise more than Florida State’s E.J. Manuel. The former Nole has a so-so week of practice in Mobile but shined in the actual game, earning offensive MVP honors. Sunday the ascension continued as Manuel was the second fastest (4.65) QB behind Smith and also was outstanding in the vertical (34.0 inches) and broad jump (118.0).
No one has ever questioned Manuel’s physical skill-set, but many do wonder about his decision-making and mechanics. On Sunday Manuel showed much improvement in his delivery and his mechanics, and his time working out in South Florida is paying off. Before igher than a fourth-round selection, but now many are predicting him to be of the board early on the second day.
A QB that Bucs fans may want to study up on is Arizona’s Matt Scott. The former Wildcat performed as well as any QB in the on-the-field portion of the workouts, showing good accuracy and velocity in his throws. And since he doesn’t wow anyone with his physical attributes, Scott could fall into the fourth round or later and could be a developmental project for the Buccaneers.Running Backs
Alabama running back Eddie Lacey is the consensus top running back in this season’s draft but was unable to workout due to a pre-existing injury.
After Lacey it is up in the air but North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard could be the second running back to hear his name called next April. Bernard reminds many of Ray Rice (and now can we say Doug Martin?) and his production (2,400 yards on the ground, 25 touchdowns) at North Carolina the past two seasons was outstanding. Bernard was fluid and explosive on the field and was equally impressive in catching the ball on Sunday.
The Buccaneers likely won’t select a running back until the late rounds, if at all but two backs that could fit well in Tampa Bay are Florida’s Mike Gillislee and Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy. Both made good impressions in the post season all-star games (Gillislee at the Senior Bowl, Stacy at the East-West) and despite neither having blazing speed, the blend of power, toughness – and decent speed – could help them find themselves becoming productive NFL running backs.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had a terrible day for the most part running an extremely disappointing 4.66, 40-time. Ball’s production at Wisconsin can't be taken away but some wonder if it can be carried over to the NFL level. Ball is expected to be taken no later than the third round, but could see himself slip to the fourth round with his overall disappointing performance on Sunday. Wide Receivers
For Bucs fan hoping West Virginia all-purpose athlete Tavon Austin would slip into the second round, those ideas are out the window after an impressive Sunday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. In fact, some scouts said after Sunday’s workout that Austin moved himself into the first half of the first round.
Austin burned up the track in the 40-yard dash posting an incredible 4.25 hand time, which was later officially listed at 4.34. Either way Austin is a burner who will certainly see his stock make a quick upturn. The versatility Austin showed in college will be a come draft day and since probably won’t happen, Bucs fans most likely will only be able to dream of having Austin lined up in the slot with Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson on the outside.
Austin not only showed tremendous speed but was very polished in his route running and impressed those in attendance with his quick-cut ability and explosion out of the breaks.
Another wide receiver that shined on Sunday – which PewterReport.com is profiling in this week’s digital magazine – was Austin’s WVU teammate Steadman Bailey. While nowhere near as quick or fluid as Austin, Bailey had a terrific workout in Indianapolis in Sunday. Steadman ran polished routes and displayed excellent hands in front of the NFL contingent of pro player personnel and executives.
Some questioned Ace Sanders leaving the University of South Carolina a year early and the former Gamecock did little to answer his critics with a so-so Sunday in Indy. Sanders. With an average 4.53, 40-time and inconsistent hands at times, Sanders most likely did nothing to help his stock and in fact may have hurt it a bit. Sanders could be a later round target as third receiver for some teams, including Tampa Bay.
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