Calling the shots
Quarterbacks take opportunity to strut their stuffPosted: Monday February 24, 2003 12:29 AM
Updated: Tuesday February 25, 2003 12:06 AM
By Tony Pauline, TFY Draft Preview
It was time for the signal callers and pass catchers to take the field Sunday as quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends worked out at the Combine. Though there were several solid performances, none were the magnitude of Joey Harrington’s or Javon Walker’s draft-impacting sessions from a year ago.
One quarterback who looked good, though he did not throw the ball, was California’s Kyle Boller. Weighing in at 234 pounds, Boller's body fat was less than 10 percent, and he quickly moved his lean frame across the RCA Dome, timing a pair of forties in the 4.6-range -- faster than most of the receivers.
Except for the injured Byron Leftwich, all the top passers took part in Sunday’s workout, and none were as effective as Dave Ragone. Coming off a terrible senior campaign at Louisville, this was the big lefty’s last opportunity to make a statement, and he did just that. Except for one poor throw, all his passes were right on the mark as Ragone displayed excellent timing and accuracy throughout the session. His placement of the all-important deep out was on target, and Ragone leaves Indianapolis knowing he greatly improved his draft stock.
Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer showed well and did nothing to hurt his status as potentially the draft’s initial choice. Chris Simms threw accurate passes in the short field but sprayed his throws outside of the 15-yard mark. Likewise, Ken Dorsey’s lack of arm strength was apparent, and he had great difficulty getting the ball deep downfield.
Lastly, Rex Grossman was inconsistent throughout practice, and though he displayed skills in the deep passing game, this was not the workout the Florida junior needed to vault him into the middle of the initial frame.
No single receiver stood out at any time Sunday, nor were scouts ogling over the numbers they saw on their stopwatches. The fastest receiver was Middle Tennessee’s Tyrone Calico, who ran a pair of forties in the high 4.3-range. While this came as no surprise to scouts, neither did Calico’s inconsistency catching the ball nor his struggling in drills. Calico easily passes the eyeball test, but his game needs a lot of work.
The best performances of the day came from small-school prospects. Capitalizing on a solid week at the Senior Bowl, Kevin Curtis again showed well for scouts. After running better than expected (4.48 in the 40) the Utah State product caught everything thrown in his direction, prompting one prominent general manager to say he feels Curtis is "All Pro material."
Little-known Ryan Hoag of Gustavus Adolphus ran fast then showed he has the hands to play at the next level, while East Tennessee State’s Cecil Moore also impressed with his pass-catching skills. Harvard’s Carl Morris ran better than expected and made the catch of the day, grabbing an errant pass out of bounds with one hand.
Stanford junior Teyo Johnson had a terrific receiving session after not running the 40. Weighing in at 247 pounds, Johnson's big body sticks out on the field, as does his lack of speed and quickness.
Several tight ends stood out during the afternoon. Rutgers product L.J. Smith displayed top athleticism, moving his 258-pound frame across turf faster than anyone else at his position. After turning in a pair of times under 4.7, Smith then went one to have one of the best pass-catching workouts of the day.
Auburn junior Robert Johnson ran poorly (5.00 in the 40) but caught the ball well and displayed a lot of potential for the next level. Another pair of underclassmen who impressed with their receiving skills were Jason Witten of Tennessee and Oregon’s George Wrighster.
Several players did not fare as well on Sunday. Florida State’s Anquan Boldin ran poorly (4.7 in the 40) then had trouble catching the ball. San Diego State’s pass-catching duo of J.R. Tolver and Kaseem Osgood, two players who combined for more than 220 receptions last season, also had a rough go of it. Each was slow on the turf (Tolver clocked a 4.8, and Osgood had trouble breaking 4.7) then had inconsistent sessions catching the ball.
There is only one day left in the 2003 version of the NFL Combine, and Monday the linebackers, along with the defensive backs will try to enhance their draft grades as they take to the turf in Indianapolis.