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Tuesday at the Combine: That's a wrap, but the "unwrapping" continues
And that’s a wrap.
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine came to a close Tuesday, when the defensive backs took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis for their workouts – with Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert turning in the best time in the 40-yard dash (4.37 seconds, which was fourth fastest overall). Players at other positions already had completed their Combine adventure.
That also means coaches and scouts will be retreating to their NFL outposts to compare notes before moving to the next level of the process that concludes May 8-10 with the latest draft in league history, and that next level is what seems like an endless series of Pro Day workouts at the players’ respective schools.
They are only drills, and they’re not performed in pads and a helmet, but here are the best marks during the just-concluded NFL Scouting Combine in four events:
Combine Record: 4.24, RB Chris Johnson in 2008
Combine Record: 49, DT Stephen Paea in 2011
Combine Record: 45, CB Donald Washington in 2009
Combine Record: 11-7, LB Jamie Collins in 2013
And this year that number has grown by at least one because of cornerback Pierre Desir, who finished his career at little Lindenwood University after beginning it at Washburn.
“Lindenwood will have their first Pro Day – first ever – March 19,” Desir said through a smile on Sunday.
The Seahawks hold the 32nd, and final, pick in the first round of the draft after winning the Super Bowl. But at the top of the round, it’s like 2006 all over again. The Houston Texans had the No. 1 pick then, and they also have it this year.
In 2006, they had the choice between Texas quarterback Vince Young and North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams. They opted for Williams, who turned out to be a good player but not a great one. He signed with the Buffalo Bills as an unrestricted free agent in 2012.
This year, most analysts have South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as the top-rated player, but the Texans are also looking for a quarterback – with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel openly stumping to be not only the top pick, but flaunting his homegrown status; but many feeling Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is “the most Pro ready” of the available passers.
Clowney did his part in Indy to live up to the “best player” billing, running the 40 in 4.53 seconds at 266 pounds. He also displayed his athleticism by popping a 37½-inch vertical leap and a 10-4 broad jump. But some still question his motivation and work ethic.
“I already think I know what he is: He’s the scariest, freakiest, physical specimen I’ve ever seen since I’ve been doing this as a potential upside defensive lineman,” Mike Mayock, an analyst for the NFL Network and NFL.com, said during his Q&A session Sunday.
“However, that doesn’t mean I’m saying he’s the best defensive lineman in the draft or the best player in the draft because he worries me with some of the red flags.”
But Mayock also came away waving the flag for others in this draft class.
“I thought those three offensive tackles were spectacular,” he said of Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews.
If the name Matthews sounds familiar, it should. Jake is the latest in what has been a long line of outstanding players from the Matthews clan that also has produced his father, Bruce, a Hall of Fame lineman; his uncle, Clay, a former NFL linebacker; his cousins, Clay III, a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, and Casey, a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles; and his brothers, Kevin, who played center for the Aggies, and Mike, who currently plays for the Aggies.
“I thought they all had good days,” Mayock added of the tackle trio – one of which also could factor into the Texans’ decision-making process with the first overall pick.
Others who had good days when it was their day:
The outside linebacker from Buffalo came in with some crazy numbers, like a NCAA-record 16 forced fumbles and a record-tying 75 tackles for losses. The 251-pound Mack then proceeded to put up more crazy numbers: a 4.65 time in the 40, a 40-inch vertical and a 10-8 effort in the broad jump.
Mayock already had said that if he held the No. 1 pick, he’d use it on Mack.
Not as big a name as Clowney, Manziel, Bridgewater or even Mack, the 6-1, 285-pound defensive tackle from Pittsburgh displayed his athleticism and then some. He ran the 40 in 4.68 seconds and had a 32-inch vertical.
“I will put this day up with any defensive tackle (at the Combine) in the last 10 years,” said Mayock – which is saying something.
Mayock already was high on the wide receivers in this draft, and Cooks had a hey-don’t-forget-about-me Combine. The Oregon State wideout ran the second-fastest 40 (4.33 seconds) and also caught the ball well.
Cook’s 40 also was a dash-for-cash performance, as Adidas will pay him $100,000 for running the fastest time of the players wearing their cleats. His next payday could come May 8 during the first-round of the draft.
“He’s a kid I thought that kind of made a statement that, ‘I’m a first-round pick,’ ” Mayock said. “And this is one of the best wide receiver drafts I’ve ever seen, so that was significant.”