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Pewter Report offers up its analysis of the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine workouts of the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers on Sunday. Which players impressed in the 40-yard dash? Which ones didn't? Find out by reading the analysis found below.
QUARTERBACKS COMBINE ANALYSIS by Jim Flynn Josh Johnson, San Diego – The buzz regarding Johnson began after his impressive performance at the East-West Shrine Game. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Johnson's stock continues to climb after his showing at the NFL Combine on Saturday. Johnson displayed good technique on five-step drops and threw crisp passes, especially on passes to the outside and in the short-to-intermediate part of the field. Although he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 9,699 yards and tossed 113 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions (including just one pick his senior season) at San Diego, Johnson's biggest attribute is his mobility and speed, which he showcased on Sunday by running a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash. The two biggest knocks on Johnson are his undersized frame and the fact that he played Div. I-AA in college. However, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden absolutely loves Johnson. After his showing at the combine, the Bucs might have to be willing to draft Johnson as early as the second round if they hope to land him this year.
Joe Flacco, Delaware – If Josh Johnson goes too early, Tampa Bay will have its eye on Flacco, who has great size, decent speed and a cannon for an arm. Like Johnson, Flacco played in Div. I-AA after transferring from Pittsburgh due to the fact that he couldn't beat out Tyler Palko for the starting job. While he needs to work on his technique, Flacco fared quite well at the NFL Combine on Sunday, showing good footwork on his five-step drops and making all of the throws necessary to succeed at the next level. He also showed surprising speed, running a 4.78 40-yard dash time. Flacco completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 4,263 yards and tossed 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a senior. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden came away from the Senior Bowl impressed with Flacco, and after his showing in Indianapolis on Sunday, Flacco is a player the Bucs will consider drafting in April.
Brian Brohm, Louisville – One of the bigger names participating in quarterback workouts at the NFL Combine on Sunday was Brohm (6-3, 227), who threw and ran well. Brohm displayed good technique and a fairly accurate arm while running a 4.75 in the 40-yard dash. Had Louisville had a better season and Bobby Petrinio remained the head coach in Atlanta, Brohm might have been the Falcons' first-round draft pick this year. Still, Brohm completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 10,775 yards and tossed 71 touchdowns and 24 interceptions during his collegiate career, which will make him a likely first- or second-round draft pick. While he might be a good quarterback, Brohm isn't thought of as a perfect fit for the West Coast offense, so Tampa Bay may pass on him in the draft.
Colt Brennan, Hawaii – Brennan's stock had dropped heading into the NFL Combine due to a poor showing in Hawaii's BCS bowl game and his sub-par performance at the Senior Bowl. To Brennan's credit, he has done a lot to stop the bleeding. Brennan (6-3, 205) was considered an undersized quarterback, but he has added 15 pounds to his frame since the Senior Bowl was played one month ago. While Brennan threw quite well on Sunday, he elected not to run the 40-yard dash, which might be because of the weight he added in such a short amount of time. Brennan completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 14,193 yards and tossed 131 touchdowns and 42 interceptions at Hawaii. He'll have to perform well as his pro day workout in order to convince the Bucs and other teams to draft him.
Kevin O'Connell, San Diego State – One sleeper to keep an eye on in April is O'Connell, who had a good showing on Sunday. O'Connell had an opportunity to showcase his athleticism and speed on Sunday, running an impressive 4.60 40-yard dash time. He also put his big frame (6-5, 228) and strong arm on display. O'Connell, who was a four-year captain at San Diego State, interviewed well in Indianapolis, and his arm strength could convince Tampa Bay to invest a later draft pick in him should the Bucs not land Josh Johnson or Joe Flacco. Although he performed better than expected at the combine, O'Connell needs to continue to improve his consistency and footwork. John David Booty, Southern Cal – Booty (6-3, 213) played in just 28 games at USC, and a finger injury caused him to miss most of his junior season. However, the fact that Booty played in a pro style attack at USC and displayed an accurate arm on short-to-intermediate passes could help his stock, especially with USC producing the likes of Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart in recent years. Booty completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 6,125 yards and tossed 55 touchdowns and 21 interceptions at USC. He has some mobility (ran a 4.84 40-yard dash time), but is considered a pocket passer. He also needs to be more consistent – Booty's four interceptions in a loss to Stanford in 2007 really hurt his stock. Dennis Dixon, Oregon – Dixon (6-4, 205) was mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate and had Oregon in the national championship hunt last year before tearing his ACL. Oregon went on to lose three of their final four contests without Dixon in the lineup, and that knee injury prevented Dixon from participating in Sunday's workouts. While he completed 63.8 percent of his passes and tossed 38 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 39 games at Oregon, Dixon's stock could really slip due to the knee injury and the long rehab associated with it.
Chad Henne, Michigan – Henne really helped improve his stock at the Senior Bowl, where he showed surprising mobility on rollouts and bootlegs. Henne continued to help himself on Sunday by throwing well and using good footwork. While he threw for 9,715 yards and tossed 87 touchdowns and 37 interceptions at Michigan, Henne (6-2, 225) only completed 59.7 percent of his career passes, which might not be accurate enough for Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. He ran a 4.90 in the 40-yard dash on Sunday. Matt Ryan, Boston College – Ryan was projected to be the first quarterback taken in the 2008 NFL Draft before the NFL Combine started, and even though he did not participate in throwing drills in Indy, that isn't expected to change. Ryan (6-5, 224) is considered a good leader and has great character. He completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 9,313 yards and tossed 56 touchdowns and 37 interceptions at Boston College. Ryan isn't considered a mobile quarterback, evidenced by his 4.96 40-yard dash time and 58 career rushing yards. The one thing that has scouts concerned about Ryan is the fact that he tossed 19 interceptions in his senior season and missed most of his junior year due to injury. The Buccaneers will not have the option of taking Ryan in this draft due to the fact that he likely will be a top 10 pick.
Andre' Woodson, Kentucky – Woodson (6-5, 224) did not work out on Sunday due to what his camp suggested was a hamstring injury. He completed 61.8 percent of his career passes for 9,360 yards and tossed 79 touchdowns and 25 interceptions in 38 starts at Kentucky. While he faced stiff competition in the SEC, Woodson needs to make quicker decisions as he was sacked 118 times (23 fumbles) and had 147 of his career pass attempts deflected by the opposing defense. If he does not perform well at his private workout later this offseason, Woodson's stock could really drop.
WIDE RECEIVERS COMBINE SCOOP by Scott Reynolds There is no doubt that Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell helped his stock with a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash, but I remain skeptical about him becoming an elite wide receiver at the next level. Caldwell only produced six 100-yard games in his college career and did not post a 1,000-yard season at Florida. Maybe it’s because the Gators have a poor track record for pumping out successful NFL wide receivers, but I just haven’t heard enough positive buzz on him from NFL scouts. … Appalachian State wide receiver Dexter Jackson was the fastest player in Indy as he blazed a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash after a good week at the East-West Shrine Game. Jackson is fast and shifty, but even with this top-end speed, he may not be picked in the first two rounds because of his raw skills and lack of top-end competition. … Houston receiver Donnie Avery had a good, but not great showing at the Combine. Once thought to be a lock to run a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, Avery couldn’t break 4.4 on Sunday and his bid for the bottom part of the first round is over. However, Avery solidified his spot in the second round, where he could become a Buccaneer. … Missouri receiver Will Franklin helped his stock by running a 4.32 at 214 pounds, but that won’t be enough to overcome his inconsistency, drops and lack of toughness. He seems destined for the third or fourth round. … Cal’s DeSean Jackson needed to run a fast time after weighing in at 5-foot-9 1/2, 169 pounds, and he did. But will his 4.31 in the 40-yard dash do enough to offset his arrogant attitude and his small frame and keep him in the first round? … One of the big winners on Sunday was 6-foot-5 Indiana receiver James Hardy, who ran an impressive 4.47. That kind of time increases the Bucs’ interest in Hardy, who could be a second-round candidate. … The same could be said of K-State’s Jordy Nelson, who ran a 4.49 at just under 6-foot-3, 217 pounds. Nelson’s high character really helps him during interviews. Nelson, who had a 31-inch vertical jump, had a great day catching the ball at the Combine. … West Virginia’s Darius Reynaud is raw as a receiver, but his 34-inch vertical, 20 reps of 225 pounds and 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash probably boosted his draft stock. … Virginia Tech’s Eddie Royal dazzled at the Combine and could move into the second round after a solid Senior Bowl. Royal weighed in at 5-foot-9 1/2, 184 pounds and posted an impressive 24 reps of 225 pounds, had a 36-inch vertical and ran a fast 4.43 in the 40-yard dash. He also had a great day catching the ball. … Texas’ Limas Sweed, considered to be the best receiver in the draft by some gurus, ran a 4.49 at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and had a 35-inch vertical jump. … Michigan State’s Devin Thomas will make scouts go back and look at the tape after running an impressive 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at 6-foot-1 ½, 216 pounds. … Players whose 40-yard dash times really hurt them were smallish Purdue wide receiver Dorien Bryant (4.53), Michigan’s Mario Manningham (4.59), whose stock may drop to the third round after some poor interviews, and Oklahoma State’s Adarius Bowman (4.69), who only had 14 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Utah State’s Kevin Robinson also ran a disappointing 4.59 and then backed it up with a 4.70 in the 40-yard dash. … Florida State wide receiver De'Cody Fagg severely injured his left leg during receiving drills at the Combine on Sunday and had to be carted off the field on a stretcher. If Fagg has a serious knee injury, as expected, he will likely go undrafted. Fagg was projected to be a late-round pick prior to the injury.
RUNNING BACKS COMBINE SCOOP by Scott Reynolds When I said I really loved the group of running backs in the 2008 NFL Draft in a recent SR’s Fab 5, you could see why on Sunday. This may have been the fastest group of running backs to ever run at the NFL Scouting Combine. Last year’s fastest 40-yard dash time was turned in by Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, who ran a 4.4. The second-fastest time in 2007 was Cal’s Marshawn Lynch, who ran a 4.52 in the 40. This year was a different story as Arkansas’ Darren McFadden, who has been compared to Peterson, blazed a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash and solidified his top 10 draft standing. McFadden, who had a 33-inch vertical and a stunning 10-foot-8-inch broad jump, didn’t stand out in running back drills, but his game tape will more than make up for that. … The second-fastest 40-time at the Combine came from East Carolina speedster Chris Johnson, who ran a blistering 4.29. That time, combined with a 35-inch vertical leap, solidified Johnson’s second-round standing and position on Tampa Bay’s radar. … The third-fastest time this year was from Houston’s Anthony Alridge, who ran a 4.36 and then bested that time with a 4.33 on his second attempt. At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, it was important for Alridge to run a fast 40. The fact that he also had a 30 ½-inch vertical jump helped his cause and solidified his status as a late-round draft pick. I really like Alridge’s game. … Situational back Jamaal Charles from Texas ran a 4.36 and Illinois’ Rashard Mendenhall made his case for being a top 10 pick with a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash and followed that up with an amazing 4.37 time while weighing in 225 pounds, which is 14 pounds heavier than McFadden. This was on the heels of Mendenhall’s 26 reps of 225 pounds, too. … The next four players – Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart, Arkansas’ Felix Jones, Rutgers’ Ray Rice and West Virginia’s Steve Slaton all ran either 4.43 or 4.44 times in the 40-yard dash. The most impressive was Stewart, who ran that time at 235 pounds on the heels of a 36 ½-inch vertical jump and 28 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. If Stewart is somehow available when Tampa Bay is on the clock at number 20, the Bucs have to consider him, especially with his kick return ability. … UCF’s Kevin Smith ran a 4.43, but backed that up with a 4.56 time that will give some NFL scouts pause because of the discrepancy between the times. Smith is among the second tier of running backs the Bucs are interested in and he is expected to be a second or third-round draft pick. His game reminds me of Marcus Allen. … Tulane running back Matt Forte helped his draft status with a 4.46 time in the 40-yard dash after running a 4.51 the first time. The Bucs like Forte’s yards after contact ability and his receiving skills. He will likely be a third- or fourth-round draft pick. … Georgia Tech’s Tashard Choice is on the Bucs’ radar screen on the second day of the draft. His 34-inch vertical jump showed what kind of an athlete he is, but he couldn’t crack the 4.5 barrier in the 40-yard dash, finishing with a 4.52 time. That will likely cause him to be drafted in round four. … A couple of backs really hurt themselves on Sunday, including Ole Miss’ Benjarvus Green-Ellis, who weighed in at 219 pounds and ran a 4.63, and Michigan running back Mike Hart, who produced 40-times of 4.67 and 4.69. Both backs will be late second-day guys due to their 40 times.
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