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All Star Circuit

Friday at the NFL Combine

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Today’s News

 

  • Panic descended upon Indianapolis for about an hour late Friday morning after news broke that Florida State QB Jameis Winston was being checked out at a local hospital due to sensations of weakness in his throwing shoulder. Drama died quickly, however, with a subsequent report that Winston had been given a clean bill of health. Winston’s shoulder, it seems, is feeling a little weak due to the combined strain of finishing off a long football season and then transitioning into baseball, where he’s an FSU relief pitcher. Winston will be fine. So fine, in fact, that he announced he will throw at the combine on Saturday.

 

  • In a decision described as “highly unusual, if not unprecedented,” Georgia RB Todd Gurley refused a medical examination of his knee. Team doctors should get a crack at scrutinizing Gurley’s X-rays later in the process, and the runner will return to Indy in April for a checkup on his surgically repaired ACL. DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus, a former pro personnel man, reported that NFL teams were fine with Gurley’s decision. So this is a non-story, right? Well, not so fast. Apparently Gurley’s decision was informed by the examination process itself, which, noted Broaddus, can lead to mending knees being yanked and twisted. If you find yourself at the moment disagreeing with Gurley’s no-show, I ask you to check out the dispatch on Tyler Kroft in the “Stock Down” section below.

 

  • Potential top-10 pick DE Randy Gregory weighed only 218 pounds when he began combine training. He tipped the scales in Indy 20 pounds heavier, at 238. Still, we’re concerned by the development. Some teams are already spooked by Gregory’s lithe frame, and it doesn’t help matters that he dropped below 220 pounds within weeks of the season ending. Gregory, the lightest defensive lineman in Indy, simply must keep his weight up.

 

  • Rumor has it that Nevada QB Cody Fajardo is considering a shift to receiver, TFY Draft Insider’s Tony Pauline reported Friday. "He’s a sensational athlete but his passing, specifically his accuracy, leaves a lot to be desired," Pauline wrote. "Though there’s been no official word to date it’ll be interesting to see if Fajardo is put through receiver drills at the end of the quarterback practice session." We’ve never seen Fajardo as an NFL QB due to his aforementioned accuracy issues, and thus cosign the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder’s potential search for a new position.

 

 

Promising Developments

 

  • Jesse James made some cash on Friday morning. Legally, I mean. This Jesse James, a Penn State tight end, is a jumbo 6-foot-7, 261-pound prospect (33" arms and 9 3/8" hands) who clocked 40-yard dash times of 4.86 and 4.83 and added a 10-foot-1 broad jump at combine testing. The latter number beats the showings of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski during their respective draft years. In a bad TE class, James is of a scarce breed combining an inline game with athletic chops. Widely panned for entering the draft early, James may have moved into the middle rounds. Outlaw indeed.

 

  • Oregon OT Jake Fisher’s 4.33 second 20-yard short shuttle time was the third-fastest for an offensive lineman since 2006. The drill is one of the most important projection tools we have to forecast collegiate lineman to the next level (if you’re curious why, check out our Combine Preview column from earlier this week). Fisher wasn’t done there. He was tested amongst the best in his position group with a 32.5" vertical jump and a 7.25 second 3-cone. He’s making a real case to earn a Round 2 call.

 

 

Concerning News

 

  • Minnesota TE Maxx Williams arrived at the combine toting comparisons to Jason Witten, Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph, seen by some as a future star in the passing game. The good news is that he will leave Indianapolis as he arrived, the favorite to be the first tight end selected. The bad news is that his stock, for the time being, has ceased its sharp upward trajectory. Williams arrived at the event measuring 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds (33 1/2" arms and 10 3/8" hands), expected measurements that nonetheless make him look like the younger, smaller brother of 6-foot-6 or -7 “move” monsters like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. Analysts hoped Williams’ testing numbers would sock them in the guts, push the Gopher prospect into mid Round 1 territory in a poor and thin tight end class. Instead, after running an official 4.78 second forty-yard dash and posting a broad jump of nine feet, nine inches, both uninspiring showings, Williams has perhaps capped his selection ceiling at late Round 1, with a floor of the middle of Round 2.

 

  • Combine doctors. In Friday’s strangest story, Pauline reported that Rutgers TE Tyler Kroft "had his ankle injured" during a combine medical examination. Doctors apparently wanted to get a closer look at the "remnants" of Kroft’s in-season ankle injury. "I’m told doctors during the medicals pulled and twisted Kroft’s ankle to test the integrity of the joint and they stretched it a bit too much," Pauline wrote, adding that Dan Connor endured a similar situation in the past. Still wondering why Todd Gurley ran from the combine exam table like it was a Florida Gator defender?

 


Word on the Street

 

 

  • NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt believes Brandon Scherff is a superior athlete to recent Iowa first-round tackles Bryan Bulaga and Riley Reiff, “but he has to prove he can be a successful left tackle in the NFL if he has any shot of being a top-10 pick.”

 

  • In another dispatch from the venerable analyst, Brandt noted that he wanted to see “if [Utah edge rusher Nate Orchard] has the body build to support another 15 pounds without losing any quickness." Orchard told the media that he wants to remain at defensive end. Currently checking in at 250 pounds, Orchard promises to continue adding weight.

 

  • During Friday’s offensive lineman movement drills, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris was most impressed with Oregon’s Fisher and Hobart’s Ali Marpet. Norris ranked Fisher as the No. 50 prospect prior to the combine.

 

 

 

Quick Hits

 

  • Georgia Tech’s Darren Waller will oblige requests to work out as either a WR or a TE. Good call. The 6-foot-6 5/8, 242-pound prospect runs in the 4.5s, but he needs plenty of work as a receiver, where his technique is shoddy.

 

  • Alabama ILB Trey DePriest (torn meniscus) hopes to work out at Alabama's pro day on March 11.

 

  • Teammate Blake Sims will only work out as a quarterback at the combine after previous reports indicated he would also audition as a running back/receiver. We love his athleticism, and his guts in the pocket to keep his eyes downfield when bullets are flying, but Sims ultimately might be forced out from behind center because of size and accuracy issues.

 

 

  • CBS Sports' Dane Brugler reported Oregon State DE Obum Gwacham has added 20 pounds over the last six weeks.

 

  • The St. Louis Rams will target linebackers early in the draft, Pauline reported.

 

  • Central Michigan WR Titus Davis is over his early-season knee issue and is now 100-percent healthy.

 

  • Texas DE Cedric Reed (meniscus surgery) won’t participate in combine drills, though he will do the bench press.

 

  • Houston DL Joey Mbu (pectoral strain), on the other hand, will not tackle the bench press in Indy. He should be fine to do so at the Cougars’ pro day.
Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!