Combine, Day 3 (cont.)
Backing it up is the challenge facing Clausen as the 2010 draft season kicks into overdrive. His intangibles are more on trial than his physical skills. He has to overcome the questions that exist about his leadership, and a useful first step would be to stop citing his collegiate surroundings and the bar of expectations that accompany Notre Dame football as the mitigating factors behind the doubts.
If only he could whip through all of that as easily as a three-cone drill.
You'd think after Drew Brees won the Super Bowl MVP earlier this month, we wouldn't have to focus like a laser on a quarterback's height any more. But no such luck. McCoy was asked and reported his exact height from the combine as 6-1¼, and I suspect those quarter-inches are still a big deal in league circles.
"My height's a knock,'' McCoy said. "It is. Six-one and a quarter, that's what God gave me and I'm going to use it the best I can. I'd like to say 6-4, but this is what God gave me.''
For obvious reasons, McCoy's game has been compared to Brees more than once this season. "I hope you guys can see that, because I see that,'' McCoy said, mentioning Brees scaling the NFL's mountaintop despite his lack of physical stature.
I made sure to ask Jets head coach Rex Ryan if he was still as optimistic about making a player out of his personal project -- outside linebacker Vernon Gholston -- as he was at last year's combine? Gholston, the sixth overall pick in 2008, had just nine solo tackles in '09, with two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. But that was a big step up from his rookie season, when he had just one solo tackle and was inactive for a number of November/December games.
"That's still a work in progress,'' said Ryan, who last year in Indy said he would take Gholston under his wing and hopefully make a player out of the former Ohio State star defensive end. "But I will say this: When we're going back and looking at our cut-ups, this young man deserves a better chance than we're giving him. We need to give him more playing time. When Calvin Pace was out for the first four games last year, we were 3-1, and I thought Vernon played really well.
"You know he's got it in him. You've got to be patient. He's entering his third year right now, so I think it's more incomplete right now. I can't say that I was right about thinking that he'd make an impact, because the impact wasn't there last year.''
Ryan agreed the 2010 season will be make-or-break time for Gholston. "I think that's an accurate statement,'' Ryan said. "Generally by the third year, you've got to see a guy really making strides.''
The Rams had to love hearing that Bradford was capable of throwing more than 100 balls in his most recent throwing session, with intensity. The ex-Sooners quarterback is still recuperating from surgery to his throwing shoulder, but says he's making throws of 20 to 40 yards, with something on the passes. He estimated he's at 85 percent these days.
"I'm putting as much as I can on it,'' Bradford said. "I feel like if you want to get your arm stronger, that's what you've got to do. I've gotten stronger every time that I've thrown, and it feels really good right now. No discomfort.''
Bradford won't throw Sunday in the quarterback workout, but he sounds like he's easily on track to throw at his March 25 pro day at OU.
Bradford was great Saturday on the topic of whether he's at a disadvantage in the NFL as a former spread-offense quarterback. He pointed out that even in the shotgun, he takes a three-step drop and said that Oklahoma made him take the first snap of every practice under center.
"I think people get this misconception that if you play in the spread or play in the shotgun, you don't know how to take a drop,'' Bradford said. "It just shortens your drop. I'm very comfortable with throwing under center. It's something I've done since I've been in college, going back to high school. It's nothing new to me.''
Mississippi running back Dexter McCluster stands just over 5-8, and weighs only 172 pounds. But he might be one of the bigger play-makers in this draft. And he's not afraid to draw a little attention to himself.
"I want to show people that there is something different about me,'' said McCluster, who was quite the hit in his media session. "Just don't look at my stature. I don't care how big or how small you are, I'll come at you. I'm not afraid of nothing or nobody.''
McCluster predicted that he'll run in the 4.3 range on Sunday, and said he plans to work out as both a running back and receiver. He's also a special teams threat, and has drawn interest from NFL teams as a kickoff and punt returner.
If McCluster can convince NFL coaches that he can handle the blitz pickup duties that he'd have at running back, he could emerge as the closest thing to either Reggie Bush or Percy Harvin in this draft -- an undersized but explosive playmaker.
"A lot of teams aren't really talking about the weight or height situation,'' McCluster said. "A lot of them are saying, 'We really don't care. You're a playmaker. You play football. Your game speaks for itself.'"
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