Coming in to day 2 of the NFL combine in Indianapolis, the biggest storyline was probably how Tavon Austin was going to perform on the field. Austin has been getting a lot of press over the past few weeks and it was going to be critical for him to live up to the hype. Austin may not have been the fastest wide receiver today, but he was certainly impressive in drills.
After Austin and Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin ran their 40-yard dash, they both had an unofficial time of 4.25 seconds. Later, when the official times were squared away, Goodwin came away the decisive victor with a time of 4.27. Whoever timed Austin must have had a heavy trigger finger and his official time came in at 4.34. Along with Austin and Goodwin, Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope, Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills, and TCU’s Josh Boyce all ran under 4.4 seconds in the wide receiver group.
Austin was technically not a top performer in any other drill today, other than the 3-cone drill, but when you consider his height of just about 5’8” in cleats, Austin had a very good day. Austin had a 32-inch vertical jump and 120-inch broad jump, both more than solid marks considering his stature. He also looked very good catching the football this morning. Austin was probably already a lock to be a first round pick, but he certainly helped his draft stock even more with his performance in Indy.
Before moving on, I should mention Michigan QB Denard Robinson worked with the wide receivers today and looked pretty good doing it. He ran a good 40 time of 4.43 seconds and looked decent in drills. It will be very interesting to see if NFL teams think he has the ability to make the transition to wide receiver at the next level.
After the receivers, the quarterbacks took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for their on-field drills. The number one QB on most boards is Geno Smith from West Virginia, and he did nothing to hurt himself today, which is all you can ask from him. He ran a great 40 at 4.59 seconds (best in the group) and had a very good broad jump at 10’4” (also best in the group). Smith also had a 33.5” vertical jump, just a half inch behind Florida State QB EJ Manuel who recorded a 34” vertical. Smith also looked pretty good throwing the ball so he should certainly still be the top guy in this mediocre group of QBs.
As I’m writing this, the running backs are just finishing up their drills for the day and the story of in that group, again, was the speedsters. The winner of the day was Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb who had an unofficial time of 4.21 seconds in his second attempt of the 40-yard dash. If that mark would have stood, it would have broken the record set by Chris Johnson in 2008. However, that time was just a tad off as the official time came in at 4.34, which was still the best time of the day. McCalebb obviously has some world-class speed, but he is an extremely small guy with a sprinter’s frame. McCalebb could find a spot on a team as a return specialist but unless he bulks up (a lot) he will be destroyed in the NFL as a running back.
Other running backs that opened my eyes were Arkansas back Knile Davis and Johnathan Franklin from UCLA. Davis held the lead in the 40 for a long time with an official time of 4.37 before McCalebb’s second attempt. What you have to realize about Davis is that he had a phenomenal season in 2010 with over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Davis then missed the entire 2011 season. What you shouldn’t do is blame him for having a poor 2012 for the razorbacks, that team gave up after week 3. After the day he had today, scouts are going to have to take another look at him, and he might just shoot up a lot of draft boards.
On the other hand, Johnathan Franklin might be the most interesting prospect at the running back position. UCLA head coach Jim Mora had some very high praise for Franklin today and Franklin showed some good ability today in drills. After today’s performance, I know that I’m going to go and take another, closer look at Franklin on film.
The day that quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs take the field is always a marquee day at the combine. There were plenty of storylines in Indy today and some great performances with some world-class speed and agility being showcased at all positions. There were some players that helped their draft stock immensely, and a lot that probably stayed at the status quo.
Check us out tomorrow as defensive lineman and linebackers take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.