Andrew Luck

All This and Brains Too: Somehow Luck managed to raise his stock EVEN higher by proving his physical prowess in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The annual cattle call that is the NFL combine rapped up yesterday and the results are in. Like everything else, the performances at the combines do not solely speak to a player’s draft stock, but it definitely weighs in. While the combine does not afford scouts the ability to measure a player’s football intelligence or mental strength, it does take the tape measure to just about every angle of a player’s physical ability.

Again, the combine performances are not the end-all, be-all in terms of draft stock, but teams now have a much better idea of just how physically talented the players on their draft boards are. If a player stumbled somewhere during the events in Indianapolis this past week, they will still have their Pro Day to redeem themselves and prove any poor performance at the combine was a fluke. Nevertheless, here are the winners and losers in the offensive skill positions at this year’s combine:

Quarterback
Winner: Andrew Luck, Stanford
Lost in the hype of Robert Griffin III’s stellar 40-time at the combine was a supremely impressive, well-rounded performance by the top quarterback in the class. The Stanford signal caller finished 4th amongst his peers in the 40-time, tied for 4th in the vertical jump, actually posted the BEST distance in the broad jump by three inches, 3rd in the 3-Cone drill, and tied for fifth in  the 20-Yard Shuttle. Luck has been praised as a once-in-a-generation talent under center with superior arm strength and accuracy combined with the fact that he ran a pro-style offense at Stanford and now has proven he’s got the physical capabilities to boot. I think Luck just solidified his going first overall.

Loser: Kellen Moore, Boise State
I’ve always liked Moore as a quarterback, but he solidified why he won’t go in the first half of this year’s draft at the combine. In case you aren’t familiar with him, Moore is an extremely cerebral quarterback that has all the characteristics you look for in an offensive general. But the knock on Moore has been that his lack of athleticism won’t do his sub-six-foot frame any favors at the next level. Finishing near the absolute bottom in almost every category, Moore reminded scouts of just that. At this point, I would be surprised if Moore went higher than the fifth round.

Running Back
Winner: Chris Rainey, Florida
There’s no getting over the fact that Rainey is sorely undersized for a prospective NFL running back and will be able to provide about as much pass protection as a tackling dummy. But guys like Darren Sproles are proving that there is a valuable role for an incredibly fast and agile albeit small running back. Rainey put up solid numbers in just about every category he competed in, and his sub-four-second performance in the 20-Yard Shuttle was nothing short of ridiculous. I believe someone will take a chance on this kid by the third round.

Loser: Bradie Ewing, Wisconsin
I want to insert an asterisk here, because Ewing is a fullback. But even so, Ewing might’ve just performed his way out of the draft. A good rule for anyone who wants to lineup in a backfield at the next level is, if you’re not going to be fast, you better be strong as hell. In posting the second-worst 40-time of those who participated and the WORST number of reps on the bench press, Ewing proved he doesn’t have too much of either. Unfortunately, I believe Ewing just tested his way out of being selected in this year’s draft. He did post impressive numbers in the vertical jump and broad jump, so a career in professional leap-frogging is not out of the question.

Wide Receiver
Winner: Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
Hill didn’t get much opportunity to put his skills on display at a run-heavy Georgia Tech, so it was extremely important for him to show what he can do in Indianapolis. And show he did. Hill was one of three receivers — Him, Travis Benjamin, and Chris Owusu — to put up a killer 4.36 40-Time, but Hill has 6 and 4 inches over the two receivers, respectively. Adding to that height is his almost 40 inch vertical jump. Coming into the combine, a realistic expectation for Hill was improving his stock high enough solidify being drafted on day two. But after Indianapolis, we’re talking about a possible late first round selection now.

Loser: Dwight Jones, North Carolina
Staying in the ACC, Jones had a horribly pedestrian combine. There weren’t any major red flags, but there weren’t any highlights either. He was just painfully mediocre. The problem with that is, coming into the combine, we were talking about Jones possibly being a second round draft pick. He is going to have to turn it around from here if he still has any hope of that. Jones’ strengths, aside from his size, has always been the immeasurables, but that doesn’t change the fact that his draft stock took a beating this week.

Tight End
Winner: James Hanna, Oklahoma
“Hanna is not a very fast player and isn’t athletic off the ball.” That’s what it says in NFL.com’s scouting report of the Oklahoma tight end, which is funny given he had the TOP 40-Time of those at his position who ran at the combine. Hanna probably wasn’t on anybody’s radar heading into the combine and was probably destined to go undrafted. But after the multi-drill display Hanna put on the combine, SOMEONE is going to take a chance on this guy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was as high as the fifth round.

Loser: David Paulson, Oregon
For someone who isn’t a terribly gifted blocker, Paulson sure didn’t do too much to show off his physical prowess. He has never been known for his speed, but a 40-Time just shy of five seconds is not the kind of thing that’ll create mismatch problems in the secondary. After seeing him in Indianapolis, there isn’t too much to get excited about with this guy. I expect him to go in the fifth round at the highest.

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