Sunday Combine Recap: Rising and Falling

Darren McFadden (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The skill position players (QBs, RBs and WRs) got their opportunity to show their ability on the field Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Scout.com's NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber fills you in on which players are rising and falling after their performance.

RISING

RB, Darren McFadden, Arkansas

If there were any doubts about McFadden entering the Combine, he dispelled those doubts by his performance. McFadden was explosive in the 40-yard dash running a 4.33, and he showed tremendous athleticism with a 33-inch vertical. McFadden was smooth in drills and had plenty of juke in his step. His performance on Sunday solidified his position as a top-five draft choice.

RB, Jonathan Stewart, Oregon

Stewart showed up at the Combine displaying a chiseled 5-foot-10, 235-pound action figure like body that should appear in Men’s Health for any aspiring body builder to see. Not only was his physique impressive, but his strength was equally striking as he lifted 225-pounds 28 times. Stewart also displayed great speed for a man of his size, timing at 4.48 in the 40. Stewart’s presence was definitely felt in Indianapolis and will ultimately increase his value as a mid-first round pick.

WR, Devin Thomas, Michigan State

One of my favorite wide receivers entering the Combine was Thomas, and all he did was prove to everyone watching that he’s a serious prospect with major upside. Thomas displayed blazing speed in the 40, where he timed at 4.40. My biggest question about Thomas entering the NFL was his vertical speed, but his 40-time and his quickness off the line in drills silenced my concerns.

WR, Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech

One of the most impressive and unforeseen performances came from Royal. He has a lot of value as WR/RS and showcased his jets in the 40 by amassing a 4.38. But it was his strength that amazed me. Measuring in at an unimpressive 5-9 ½, 185 pounds, Royal managed to get up 225 pounds 24 times. That’s physically astonishing for a man of his stature. Royal also showed that he’s improved his route running by running crisp routes and flashing sure hands. Royal is making his case to be a late first day selection.


Louisville QB Brian Brohm works out at the Scouting Combine.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

QB, Brian Brohm, Louisville

Say what you want about Brohm and his arm strength, but my No. 1 rated quarterback showed confidence by competing in all workouts this weekend. He was engaging with the media and polished on the field. He turned in a good 40-time of 4.83 and showed good athleticism by obtaining a 30-inch vertical and a QB best 9’7” broad jump. Brohm showed great accuracy and good arm strength throwing deep balls and out routes.

WR, Dexter Jackson, Appalachian State

Jackson has been spectacular this off-season, and he’s elevated his stock immensely. He’s a true speedster and was clocked at 4.37 in the 40 on Sunday. He ran solid routes and caught the ball comfortably. His ability as a return specialist will only increase his stock, and his timed speed will hold a lot of weight as the evaluating continues. Jackson has gone from a late round prospect when this process began in late December to a possible third or fourth round pick.

RB, Chris Johnson, East Carolina

At the Senior Bowl, East Carolina RB Chris Johnson displayed great explosiveness during the first two days at practice, but suffered a shoulder injury, which forced him to miss the rest of the week of practice and the game. The Combine was redemption for Johnson, and he didn’t disappoint scouts and team personnel in attendance at the RCA Dome. Johnson’s explosiveness was witnessed in the 40, where he ran a 4.24, and in the vertical and broad jumps. This performance in Indy makes a case for Johnson to be a late-first round pick.

WR, Andre Caldwell, Florida

Caldwell continued to shine at the Combine after a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl. Caldwell ran smooth routes, caught the ball with his hands and flashed a head-turning 4.37, 40. The solidly built Caldwell measured in at 6-feet, 207 pounds and displayed great agility in the cone and shuttle drills. He also recorded a 37-inch vertical.

WR, DeSean Jackson, California

This was a controversial weekend for Jackson. He measured in at 5-foot-9, 169 pounds and ultimately went from an outside receiver to a slot receiver, unless a team believes he can handle the physical demand on the outside. But when it came to his workouts, Jackson shined. He sparkled in the 40 with a 4.35. That speed alone warrants Jackson to be a mid-first round selection who may have a chance to be selected in the top-12.

QB, Josh Johnson, San Diego

Johnson is an interesting prospect who possesses tremendous upside and intriguing physical tools. Johnson received a lot of attention at the Combine when he sat at his table in the media room and answered a variety of questions with great poise. Not only did he show poise with the media, but he delivered the ball with confidence on Sunday displaying a strong arm and nice touch. Johnson also turned in the fastest 40-time of any QB, which was a 4.55.

WR, Jordy Nelson, Kansas State

Probably one of the most underrated receivers entering the Combine, Nelson proved that he belongs among the nation’s elite at the Senior Bowl. Nelson continued his ascension in Indianapolis after he silenced his critics by running a 4.51 in the 40. He routinely displays good route running and soft hands. Nelson is still a little stiff in the hips and doesn’t possess great athleticism, but he’s a consistent performer who’s made a significant jump in his draft status.


FALLING

WR, Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State

Bowman continues to disappoint this offseason with his lackluster workouts and nonchalant demeanor. He measured in at a solid 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, but only managed a 4.67 in the 40. Bowman is a physically imposing figure on the field, but that didn’t translate into the weight room at the Combine, as he only accomplished 14 reps in the bench press. The only saving grace for Bowman at this point is his Pro Day, and for him to regain his original draft status as a potential first round pick, he will have to run a low 4.5.


Michigan WR Mario Manningham makes a reception at the Combine.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

WR, Mario Manningham, Michigan

Manningham had the worst day of any player at the Combine. He was talked about as one of the best playmakers at the receiver position and a possible mid-first round pick, but when the dust settled, he ran a disturbing 4.60 in the 40. Manningham didn’t look comfortable running and was running in a short, choppy stride. He demonstrated good strength getting up 16 reps in the bench press, especially with his 5-foot-11, 181-pound frame. He also caught the ball well, but it’s his speed that’s a concern.

RB, Mike Hart, Michigan

Hart didn’t measure well at the Combine (5-8, 207) and didn’t show much explosion; he ran a 4.67 in the 40. Hart isn’t the most athletic back in the draft, and he proved it by turning in a 28-inch vertical, but he did look good making cuts in drills. Hart will have to improve his 40-time at his Pro Day.

WR, Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina

Simpson has received rave reviews this offseason and has become a rising talent in the draft. But I wasn’t impressed with his receiving skills on Sunday. He dropped a few balls during drills and rounded off his routes. Simpson has the biggest hands of any receiver in the draft, and to see him drop easy balls was surprising.



A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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