Snap Judgments: Running back depth, Tebow's strong numbers
The value of RBs has slipped, but there are several speedy backs available
Tim Tebow graded well in the vertical leap, broad jump and 40
Rams are not selecting based on what a potential new owner might want
INDIANAPOLIS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we wrap up our stay at the still-unfolding NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. ...
The first round is never a haven of running backs these days, but it's a pretty deep position in this particular draft, and a pretty speedy one. Sprinters were everywhere in Sunday's workout. Clemson's C.J. Spiller ran a scorching 4.37 in the 40-yard dash, Cal's Jahvid Best was at 4.35, Fresno State's Ryan Matthews really helped his draft grade with a 4.45, Mississippi's Dexter McCluster finished at 4.58, and USC's Joe McKnight ran a 4.49.
Spiller, Best and Matthews could all be legitimate first-round considerations at this point. And Stanford's Toby Gerhart, a Heisman finalist, flashed in his workout as well, running a very solid 4.53.
Everyone likes a good Sunday afternoon combine buzz about somebody's sizzling 40-yard dash time, and this year's version of Chris Johnson (whose 4.24 two years ago was an eye-opener) was Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford, who clocked an official 4.28. Ford, who has an extensive track background, was timed by some scouts as low as 4.18 to 4.23, but obviously they just had itchy thumbs on the old stopwatch.
Ford caught the ball fairly well, too, which can only mean one thing as March dawns: Ladies and gentlemen, announcing the No. 8 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, to the Oakland Raiders, Jacoby Ford. We're just kidding. We think.
Maybe Ole Miss junior quarterback Jevan Snead knew what he was doing after all in coming out early this year. Snead had a strong workout Sunday afternoon and the accuracy and strength of his passes provided the highlight among the quarterbacks who threw.
Snead might have positioned himself nicely for a third-round grade coming out of Indy.
Well, at least we know he can run and jump. Now about that throwing motion ...
Tim Tebow wowed them on Sunday at the combine. Not with his arm. But with his legs. He posted a 38.5-inch vertical jump, tying the combine's all-time record for quarterbacks (with Josh McCown). For comparison sake, Michael Vick jumped 38 inches in 2001.
Tebow later recorded a strong broad jump of nine feet, seven inches, and his two 40-yard dash attempts yielded unofficial times of 4.70 and 4.72, according to the NFL Network. That's pretty much as fast as some of the highest rated tight ends.
Why did I compare Tebow's times with the tight ends? Oh, no reason.
The reports of who bench-pressed what at the combine usually make my eyes glaze over. But how can you not feel good for USC senior running back Stafon Johnson, who did 13 reps of 225 pounds on Saturday? Johnson, of course, is the young man who nearly died from a bench-pressing accident early last fall, when the bar dropped on his throat and partially crushed his airway. Johnson still has a rasp to his voice, but otherwise has made a complete recovery from the accident.
Did anyone at this year's combine have more pressure on them than the guy who was spotting for Johnson's bench-press session? I think not.
While the pre-draft storyline goes that Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is more of a backfield penetrating playmaker, and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the better run defender, a lot of what goes into making that distinction has to do with the particular defenses the Sooners and Cornhuskers ran, Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said.
"They're both quality players," said Spagnuolo, who has every reason to study up on the differences between the two highest-rated players in the draft. "I think that McCoy's defense is structured that way. He's a gap penetrating tackle, and Nebraska's defense is more of a reading (the blocks) tackle. So to me, that's about the only difference, just the techniques they've been taught. But they're both quality players who can learn any defense."
Suh echoed Spagnuolo, saying, "We played two different defenses. His defense was more or less, he had the freedom to penetrate. Me, I was more or less in the scheme of reading and playing through my man and then getting to the ball and disengaging. If I were to be in that same scheme as him, or vice versa, I think it would be total opposites as it is right now."
I had South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul going third overall to Tampa Bay in my most recent mock draft, and it must have made him a bit giddy, because when he was asked Sunday what he wanted to accomplish as a rookie, he said: "I wanna break records.''
Easy, big fella. Let's just get drafted, signed and in uniform first, and then worry about re-writing the record books.
The already highly regarded offensive tackle class for the most part burnished its standing in Indy. Maryland's Bruce Campbell gets this year's Mike Mamula Award for displaying an eye-popping workout (34 reps on the bench press, 32 inch vertical leap and 4.85 in the 40) and a chiseled physique, even though there are some NFL clubs who believe he won't be as good a pro as he is a prospect.
Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams, Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung, Idaho guard Mike Iupati, Florida center/guard Maurkice Pouncey and Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga all lived up to their pre-combine billing, and in some cases exceeded it.
In the top tier of offensive linemen, only Rutgers tackle Anthony Davis rated as something of a disappointment in Saturday's workout. He wasn't anywhere near as fluid or nimble in his drill work as most of the other high-profile tackles. As for the minor groin injury suffered by Okung late in his workout on Saturday, it will do nothing to affect his draft grade.
Terrell Owens to Baltimore, right? He can't turn the Ravens down again. Owens did that in early 2004, fighting his way out of the trade that would have sent him from San Francisco to Baltimore, because he didn't like the Ravens quarterbacks and was bound and determined to play with Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb (oh, the irony).
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was Philly's special teams coach during T.O.'s stormy almost-two-year tenure as an Eagle, and he's not scared off one bit.
"We're interested in T.O.," Harbaugh said Saturday at the combine. "We're interested in all the guys that can make our team better. I think he's a good guy and a good player. I was coaching special teams and he was playing receiver so he was on the hands team. And I had a chance to relate to him through that. We had a good relationship. He was respectful to the coaches and worked hard, and I think everybody had a pretty good relationship with him."
Uh, not everybody, John. Not everybody.
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