The combine is a way to affirm and re-affirm what you see on tape. Today, with the running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks, it's one of the easier evaluations to do because everything is tangible. You have numbers and you try and match them up with how you feel those players exhibit those numbers on the field. Sometimes they don't match up and if that's the case, you're going to have to go back and take a look.
As with anything else, let's take a closer look at who helped themselves today as well as guys that didn't really have the best of performances. We'll go over three of each:
The trio - Amari Cooper/Devante Parker/Kevin White
In the conversation for the best wide receiver in this year's draft, Cooper is, to use a "Mayockism," checking off all the boxes. Not only did he show easy change of direction in drills today, but any questions about his speed at 6-foot-1, 211 pounds were answered with a 4.42 40 yard dash. Very good for him as he can show that he's got the long speed to be a deep threat as well. Firmly in play for a top 10, even top 5 selection. People see him as Torry Holt, and that's a very good comparison for me.
Meanwhile Devante Parker is doing the exact same thing. He's got a 4.45 and looked so smooth both in the gauntlet and during drills. I'm not sure he dropped a ton of balls. He's another player worthy of a top 10 selection and will be among the three that the Oakland Raiders think about all the way up at #4. He reminds people of AJ Green and I don't hate that comparison. Same body type, catch radius, and smooth fluidity throughout.
Finally, Kevin White showed up as one of the freakiest, with the 6-foot-3, 215 pound receiver running a 4.35. It matches up with his tape as well, as the draft's best vertical receiving prospect due to the body control and deep tracking. He's almost violent in the way that he rips the ball out of the air, and you saw that today. His comparison is Julio Jones, and like the other two, it makes sense. My favorite for the first wide receiver to be taken because I think he fits what the Raiders are looking to do.
Jameis Winston, QB Florida State
Clearly one of the biggest winners of the day. Winston showed off his touch with gorgeous passes all day long. In an "Xs and Os" session with Steve Mariucci, the current NFL Network analyst said that he had never had a QB be more impressive with their football knowledge. In his interviews, he apparently came off as very personable. All things together, Winston had a terrific combine and there is now momentum for him to go with the number one overall pick over Marcus Mariota or anybody else.
David Johnson, RB Northern Iowa
After a dominating Senior Bowl, he's having an incredible combine. After posting up a 4.50 40 yard dash (faster than Melvin Gordon, Duke Johnson, and Ameer Abdullah), Johnson posted a 41.5" vertical jump, which is outstanding and shows terrific explosion. He's garnered huge amounts of praise from every draft expert there and is one of the fastest risers. He's got an outside shot right now to go in Day 2. If not, he won't last very long into Day 3.
Jamison Crowder, WR Duke
A dimunitive player at 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, he really struggled in the 40 yard dash with only a 4.56. He's already knocked because of his size, but if his speed comes under question too, he could lose some money. He plays fast on the field, and the 40 yard dash is pretty overrated, but if there's a discrepancy as big as this, it's something you go back and look at, for sure. He also dropped a few balls in drills. This is coming off a poor Senior Bowl performance, and Crowder is not having a good offseason.
Josh Harper, WR Fresno State
A player that many thought was flying under the radar. Really good tape on him. Showed up at 6007, 191 pounds. Ran a 4.64 with an ugly 9" broad jump and 32" vertical. His ten yard split was not anything special at 1.66. For a player at that weight, you want to see more explosion and quickness. There was some talk of Harper going even early day 2, as he's got some favorites in the scouting community. He certainly didn't help himself today.
Any QB not named Mariota, Winston, or Hundley
We've already talked about Jameis Winston, above, who was among my biggest winners. Marcus Mariota displayed his athleticism with a 36" vertical and a 4.52 40 yard dash. He also held his own in the passing drills, including a few really nice deep balls. Brett Hundley also had a good day, including a terrific short shuttle (among the best in some time) which shows off his athleticism. He made some good throws as well.
Everybody else? Well, unremarkable. That's not a good thing at all. We're talking about a group of players - Sean Mannion, Shane Carden, Bryce Petty, etc - that were all vying for that third QB slot. Hundley's grasp on that coming in here was tenuous at best. He solidified himself while everybody else just fell to the wayside. If you miss out on any of the top three quarterbacks, it's going to take some kind of faith to look for anybody else in this draft class that could possibly start. There's zero buzz with the day ending, and that's not a good thing.