All Star Circuit

Saturday at the NFL Combine

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET



Today’s News

 

  • We begin, for a second consecutive day, with Florida State QB Jameis Winston, who unsurprisingly has dominated the narrative flowing out of Indianapolis since he arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium. Once again, Saturday proved to be a good news/bad news proposition for the favorite to go No. 1 overall. Firstly, the bad: Multiple reports stated NFL doctors found “weakness” in Winston’s throwing shoulder during Friday examinations. This isn’t bad, as we discussed yesterday, in and of itself: The specific frailty is common to baseball pitchers, a group Winston twilights amongst as a reliever when he’s not piloting football offenses. But an anonymous scout told NESN that Winston's right shoulder, the talk of the Hoosier State, is "bad,” and chillingly added that while the shoulder poses no short-term concerns, it will be a long-term issue. Winston, of course, has spent the past 48 hours downplaying concern. We report anonymous scouts’ quotes every day, and can pass along what you already know: Those crusty, loose-lipped sons of guns are like the popular clique in “Mean Girls”: They discharge gossip as a modem disseminates bandwidth, and the incognito nature of their unattributed pontifications removes from them any responsibility of being, at the end of the day, correct. Draftniks ought to keep Winston’s shoulder in the recesses of their consciousness, in other words, while not allowing it to in any way change their evaluation of the player. I view the good news similarly: Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman—and a spate of others—reported Winston has done "incredibly well" in combine interviews, with Freeman adding that "incredibly well" was a "dramatic understatement." As I noted in the news section, Winston's blend of charisma and confidence has always played well with the media. Self-assured people who keep consistent eye contact, stay present, and speak with authority and a smile typically have easy times winning over small groups of people when given a platform to speak. Winston’s past discretions have occurred in situations where no microphones were present. Good on Famous Jameis for toting the charm to an event demanding it, but keep in mind that reports of his interpersonal command mine as well have been copy/pasted from Johnny Manziel dispatches last year at this time.

 

  • On the field, Miami WR Phillip Dorsett clocked forty times of 4.33 and 4.35. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, this non-contributor in non-vertical aspects of the game has very little margin for error when it comes to his development. Some analysts believe Dorsett could go in the first round (ESPN.com's Mel Kiper, for instance, recently mocked Dorsett to the Seahawks at No. 31), but it says here that such an investment would be a mistake. Though Dorsett didn't break Chris Johnson's speed record, as he'd hoped, his times will keep his name in the Round 1 discussion into April. At worst, he's ticketed for a call early on Day 2.

 

Promising Developments

 

  • If West Virginia WR Kevin White is the first receiver drafted in April, analysts will point to Saturday as the day he leaped over Amari Cooper (though we ranked Cooper as the No. 3 WR before the combine). At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, White clocked stunning forty-yard dash times of 4.35 and 4.36. NFL Network's Mike Mayock compares his body type to Larry Fitzgerald, while colleague Daniel Jeremiah likens White’s game to Julio Jones’. White, who has 32 5/8-inch arms and 9 1/4-inch hands, also performed 23 reps of 225 pounds. It would be shocking if White fell below the Vikings at No. 11, while he now has top-five upside. Rotoworld draft analyst Josh Norris ranks Dorial Green-Beckham No. 1 amongst receivers, followed, in order, by White and Cooper. I peg White No. 1, followed by DGB and then Cooper.

 

  • It’s no overstatement to say Georgia WR Chris Conley may have earned himself in excess of one million dollars on Saturday. He turned those crusty “Mean Girl” scouts into doe-eyed, heart-fluttering fanboys by slapping down 4.35 and 4.41 40-yard dash times, along with a 11-foot-7 broad jump (third best in the history of the combine) and 45-inch vertical (tied for third best since 2003). The 6-foot-2, 213-pounder also has 33 3/4-inch arms, which would get him labeled as having a “reach advantage” in most MMA fights. Conley came into the day as a late Day 3 prospect—some analysts didn’t believe he was worthy of a pick—but he will leave Indianapolis having earned Day 2 consideration. Knee and ankle injuries in college hampered his production. I still view Conley as a mid-Day 3 prospect. He has No. 3 NFL receiver upside.

 

Concerning Reports

 

  • Michigan WR Devin Funchess posted a pair of discouraging 4.70 forty times. The WR/TE tweener (or “hybrid,” if you’re a glass-half-full kind of cat) is a hand-slapping blocker who, if he sticks at receiver, will be amongst the league’s most plodding. Draft analyst Mike Mayock still believes Funchess is a matchup nightmare, comparing him to Kelvin Benjamin and Jimmy Graham. Maybe so, but Funchess’ 2014 game tape is uninspiring—and, at times, infuriating, as the prospect at times was clearly checked out of Michigan’s nightmare season—and his combine performance won’t act as a “Men in Black” look-into-this-light memory eraser, as he'd no doubt hoped it would.

 

  • Ohio State WR Devin Smith’s forty times of 4.42 and 4.47 were perfectly acceptable, but I think they probably end up costing him a call at the end of Round 1. Smith, a pure burner on offense who also provides some special teams value, isn’t well-rounded enough as a receiver to go on Day 1 amidst a stacked perimeter class. Had he run in the 4.3s, as had been his plan, I think a team at the end of Round 1 may have talked themselves into the Torrey Smith comparison and squeezed the trigger. Now, Devin Smith may have even fallen behind fellow burner Dorsett in the grand pecking order. For the record, Rotoworld has never considered Smith (nor Dorsett) a first-round pick.

 

Word on the Street

 

  • NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said during Friday’s television broadcast of the event that he grades Minnesota TE Maxx Williams as a second-round pick. "He is the only tight end I have in the first two rounds," Mayock said, adding that Williams is athletic, but not explosive, and boasts "really good hands." Mayock grades Miami's Clive Walford as the clear second-best tight end—he lauds Walford for his blend of size, speed and strength—with a big drop off after those two.  "After [Williams and Walford], what's your flavor?" he said. In Indy, Williams measured 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, with a so-so 4.77 seconds forty-yard dash, an impressive 4.37 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and a 34.5-inch vertical jump. Walford, meanwhile, goes 6-foot-4, 251 pounds with a 4.79 forty and a 35-inch vertical jump. Williams still has a chance to go at the end of Round 1, while Walford will be seen on television crying into a cellphone and pulling on a random hat that doesn't fit while surrounded by whooping family members at some point during Day 2. Fun!

 

 

  • Hall of Fame RB and current NFL Network broadcaster Marshall Faulk wasn't concerned by Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon's forty times of 4.52 and 4.53 on Saturday. "He has enough speed -- he can break the long run," Faulk said. Here, here. Any disappointment in Gordon’s time is probably a direct result of ubiquitous comparisons to Jamaal Charles (and his 4.36 wheels). Might be better to consider Gordon as more of a Robert Smith, a player who didn't look like a burner even as he long-strided into the open field past defensive backs.

 

Quick Hits


  • In first-round receiver testing news, Louisville's DeVante Parker clocked forty times of 4.45 and 4.50, Missouri/Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham ran 4.49 and 4.50, and Alabama's Amari Cooper posted 4.42 and 4.43 times. Cooper went on to post a 33-inch vertical, one of the worst scores amongst receivers, and a 10-foot broad jump. I didn't list Cooper under "Concerning Reports" because I don't see his evaluation changing much inside the industry because of today's performance. That said, the showing confirms to us why Cooper is Rotoworld's No. 3 WR. Norris has written extensively about Cooper's struggles to go and get the ball when it's in the air, believing Cooper to be an "on-the-ground" receiver. Possessing good wheels, Cooper isn't a pure straight-line prospect like Stefon Diggs, but he's not a transcendent physical freak like fellow elite receiving prospects of the past few years (White and Green-Beckham, of course, qualify). He would do well to find himself paired with an accurate, rhythm quarterback who won't doubt Cooper's ability to be where he says he will be at all times. Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings make for a logical pairing if I'm wrong and Cooper's stock took a hit Saturday, pushing him just outside of the top 10. Speaking of the Vikings, Parker told the media that he's interested in a reunion with former teammate Bridgewater in Minnesota.

 

  • Of other 40-yard dash intrigue amongst receivers, Kansas State's Tyler Lockett posted 4.40 and 4.41 times, Washington State's Vince Mayle collected 4.67 and 4.73 times, USC's Nelson Agholor was clocked at 4.44 and 4.46, and Georgia Tech's Darren Waller at 4.46 and 4.54. Mayle might now go undrafted, but he’s amongst your correspondent's favorite off-the-radar receiving prospects. Unpopular opinion alert!: I would take him over Conley.

 

  • As for the running backs, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah clocked forty times of 4.61 and 4.62, Boise State's Jay Ajayi ran 4.57 and 4.62, Miami's Duke Johnson posted times of 4.55 and 4.60, and Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon finished 4.65 and 4.61.

 

  • Michigan State's Jeremy Langford logged the best forty time amongst running backs at 4.43 seconds. The victim of an insanely deep RB class, he’s still considered a third-day selection. J.J. Nelson's 4.28 forty was tops amongst receivers. The UAB product led the country in kickoff return average (38.3 yards) and kickoff returns for touchdowns (4) last season. His school no longer fields a football team, but Nelson will find a new one on Day 3 in April.

 

  • ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Browns would have considered drafting UCLA QB Brett Hundley in the top-ten last year. Luckily, Hundley saved the Browns from themselves. After returning to school and showing little improvement inside the pocket, Hundley is now likely ticketed for Day 2. The draft hasn't yet begun, but Ray Farmer has already written Hundley's name on a draft card for quick submission. Now that's streamlined!

 

  • Missouri DE Shane Ray won't participate in combine drills due to a foot injury he sustained in the school's bowl game. He'll work out for scouts at the school's as-yet-to-be-determined Pro Day date.

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