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February 25, 2013 @ 8:09 am
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NFL Combine Day 2 Impressions: QB, RB, and WRs

Written by Mark
Cook
Austin was one of the stars on Sunday
Austin was one of the stars on Sunday Getty Images
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Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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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
draft-day steal.



Quarterbacks
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.


Last modified on Monday, 25 February 2013 17:19
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    There is no doubt that Tavon Austin is an impressive athlete. But I wonder if we may be suffering from the syndrome that says the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen is the last one I ever saw. This draft reminds me of an old expression – “mad dog in a meat house” that means there may be so much beef hanging on the rack that we won’t know what to bite on. Will we still have the same favorite pick after we see the CBs and FSs on Tuesday – remembering the 2012 season when we were torched so often. What do we do if Lane Johnson, Shariff Floyd, Dee Milliner, Ezekiel Ansah, Tavon Austin, Kenny Vacarro and Tyler Eifert are sitting there at #13. Something to think about for a team that has so many needs!
  • avatar


    Well maybe that QB Matt Scott could be targeted by bucs staff for a future bucs.GO BUCS
  • avatar


    Thanks too familiar great points also. I'm usually an advocate for defense, I just don't see a cb that stands out. I actually like Rhodes and Ryan the best and most have them as second rounders... Dlinemen are so deep in this group, LBs quality later, and Dom said he doesn't like drafting oline so why not? Plus schiano loves him some West Virginia so we might get our wish:)
  • avatar


    I'm so with you too familiar. I get the needs of CB etc and all the valid points on not taking Austin, but after studying this particular group of draftees I would pull the trigger at 13. I know some will call me crazy, but here is why: this offense is at its most effective in 3 wide sets as it spreads the defense out and allows Doug and the oline to dominate in one on one match ups, whereas tightend heavy sets just bring more defenders into the box (not good for power schemes). I think if you could justify taking a tight end at 13, why not a slot receiver. The reason I love Austin is his incredible balance/quickness and his change of direction without losing any of his top end speed. Seeing him catch an out route inches from the sideline and effortlessly staying in bounds and turning up field is incredible, I've never seen anything like it. For those who think too small, think warrick Dunn, just faster, doesn't end up on the ground as much, and a better receiver. All of us could poke holes in Austin all day long, but I see a special talent not just a slot receiver.
  • avatar


    buc1932, I agree with absolutely everything you said. I'll add to it that this draft is deep at CB and that the O and D lines we have are already talented, albeit with just an average LT.
  • avatar


    I just don't believe that we are at a position where we should take Austin. There will be another down the road and I just feel that we have positions that we must fill if we are going to get to the next tier. First we have to have a solid DL and at least one good CB before we can draft a WR; just my opinion
  • avatar


    Horse, that's a fair point. My argument is that there won't necessarily be another Tavon in a few years. He's a special talent. Also, there is an argument to be made for building on strengths rather than trying to plug the holes in a dam. Also, what Austin provides DOES fill needs - 3 of them. Secondary RB, elite returner, dynamic slot receiver to work the underneath stuff opened up by Mike and VJ. Also, the draft is deep at CB, we already have 2 (and 3 if we re-sign Bennett) strong DEs, and the line is already better than average without a Fisher or a Johnson added to it.
  • avatar


    I don't Know, about all that but I do Know that I would prefer Ezekiel Ansah at 13 or Margus Hunt.. And also I Like LB Jamie Collins USM or Cornelius Washington LB from Georgia FREAK ELITE athletes for later rounds 3rd Maybe 4th I Hope we field a more bigger physical defense under Schiano Like they Have in Seattle. And Austin is nice but if only available say an Doug. Martin scenario.
  • avatar

    toofamiliar17 I'm kind of with you. The more I see of this guy, the more you realize how quickly he can turn a game around. for those who aren't too familiar check out some highlight tapes, particularly the one from Oklahoma this year. 572 total yards, 344 rushing! He's Sproles, Welker with a bit of Barry Sanders all rolled in one? I don't know, but he is a special athlete. A game-changer.
  • avatar

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxzPryPMB74 Here is his highlights from the Oklahoma game.
  • avatar


    I agree completely, Mark. That game against Oklahoma was one of the single most impressive performances I've ever seen on a football field, or any field for that matter. Like I said, I understand that there are bigger needs, but how often does a team get a shot at a player like Austin? Outside of his small stature, I think he's as close as it gets to a can't miss player. With him, a FA CB and a 2nd round CB pick (or a trade back into the first and a CB there), I think we're already a markedly improved team. I think one staple of any front office in the NFL should be this: when you get a shot at a truly rare talent in the draft, you take him, needs be damned. This is looking WAY ahead, but if anyone is worried about money invested in the WR position, his renewal would come up right after VJ's contract expires. Our offense, I believe, would be truly elite with him and our OG's back and Free having another year in this system.
  • avatar

    my favorite WR are patton,hopkins,still,or goodwin for slot receiver any chance of getting one of them in 3rd rd.
  • avatar


    I've been dreaming of Tavon is pewter and red for a while. This remark will likely draw a lot of ire from commenters here, but I'd be alright with selecting him at the 13 spot. He's a top 5 talent in this draft. There isn't a CB of technically great value at that spot, and while OT is a need, IMO, it's not a crucial need. I love Kenny Vaccaro, but one has to question the merits of selecting a safety in the first round in consecutive drafts. Look at the 3 HUGE needs for this team that Austin would fill better than anyone else currently on this team or in this draft/FA class: dynamic slot receiver to provide the offense with an underneath option; truly elite returner who will change the game when he touches the ball on punts/kickoffs; change of pace/3rd down back for Doug Martin. These are all needs that we have all spoken about at length.I understand the reasons not to pick him, but I think there are more reasons to take him. I'd be alright with Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher, or Johnthan Banks instead, but I'd be thrilled to have this kid in pewter & red. He's a stud, plain and simple. He would instantly make this team better in 2 phases. Is it really that terrible of an idea? lol
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