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2018 NFL Combine Day 2: All eyes will be on the quarterbacks

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Oh, wide receivers and tight ends will be on the field, too

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second day of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. Yesterday we got a look at the offensive linemen and running backs.

Today we get a look at the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. All eyes will be on the top quarterback prospects, particularly with Sam Darnold’s decision to not throw today and the lack of marquee names among the wide receivers.

So without further ado, let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks

If we’re being honest, not much of what you see on the field today from the quarterbacks matters all that much. Each of these players has plenty of game tape that shows how well they can throw a ball.

What matters much more are the interviews that are conducted before the on-field workouts. How quarterback handles himself with decision makers, his knowledge of offense, and how he can retain information under pressure.

Wide Receivers

Players To Watch

D.J. Moore (Maryland) - Moore has been a riser as more people have been able to look at his college tape, and has been generating a buzz as the combine approaches. He is a thick and athletic receiver who’s college offense frequently asked him to take quick passes and make something happen. He will want to show that he is a much more complete receiver.

Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) - Kirk gets lost in the shuffle, but is known to scouts as a potentially electric playmaker. He might get pigeonholed as a “slot receiver” but he should put on a show with his quickness and agility.

James Washington (Oklahoma State) - Washington has averaged a ridiculous 20 yards per catch in his last three years at Oklahoma State. He will want to dispel any notion that he is a product of the Oklahoma State offense and Big 12 defenses, as well as any concerns about his athleticism.

Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) - St. Brown is a tall, long receiver who runs like a deer on the field. The league will hope that he weighs in heavier than his whip-thin listed weight of 203 pounds. He will also want to show that his long speed isn’t a mirage and he can be a big deep threat in the NFL.

D.J. Chark (LSU) - Like St. Brown, Chark will want to show off his speed in workouts. Also like St. Brown, he will also want to show that he is a much more fundamentally sound receiver who was held back by bad quarterback play.

Drills that matter

40 Yard Dash - Speed matters for wide receivers. While not as much as it gets credit for, the NFL is constantly on the lookout for fast receivers who can stretch the field, take the top off a defense, and be a home-run threat.

3-Cone Drill - As with the running backs, this drill will help to expose short-area quickness, lower-body flexibility and fluidity, and balance. Prospects who time well in this drill are good bets to be able to rack up yards after the catch, such as Odell Beckham Jr.

Vertical Leap - This drill is important for two reasons. First, it shows off lower-body explosiveness, which is important for breaking tackles or laying blocks on screen passes. Also, having a good vertical expands a receiver’s catch radius and lets smaller, quicker receivers be out-sized threats in the red zone. For instance, both Beckham and Sterling Shepard have (roughly) 40-inch vertical leaps, and are much bigger red zone threats than their sub-6 foot height would suggest.

Events to watch

Sideline Tap Drill

1. QB lines up on the right hash.

2. WR lines up to the right of the QB close to the top of the #’s.

3. WR will start 2 yards behind a cone designated for the break point and burst to the cone on command.

4. WR will proceed to the next cone which will be placed on the sideline.

5. QB will throw the football towards the sideline forcing the WR to catch the football and control both feet before his momentum carries him out of bounds.

One of the big differences between college and the NFL is that receivers need to get two feet down in-bounds for a catch to count. This drill will expose a prospect’s body control and ability to make tough catches outside their frame. It will also test the quarterbacks’ ability to put the ball “only where their receiver can get it.”

Over the Shoulder Drill

1. QB is directly behind the WR.

2. WR is 5 yards in front of the QB.

3. WR takes off on a straight line when QB gives the “GO” command.

4. WR looks back over his shoulder when the QB gives the “BALL” command after 10 yards.

5. WR adjust to the ball thrown by the QB over either shoulder.

The ability to adjust to the ball in the air is key to a receiver’s success. Even the most accurate quarterback isn’t perfect, and defensive backs will work to disrupt routes and timing. The receiver will have to be able to compensate for all that and make tough catches at the next level.

Wide Out Routes

1. Quick Slant – Thrown to the Left only

2. Out Route – Thrown to the Left

3. In Route – Thrown to the Left at 15 to 18 yards

4. Go Route – Thrown to the Left

5. Out Route – Thrown to the Right

6. Curl Route – Thrown to the Right

7. Post Corner – Thrown to the Right

Obviously wide receivers need to be able to run a route tree. Many of these prospects didn’t run a full route tree in college and need to be able to show NFL evaluators that they can run all the routes. These drills will also show teams which players have good route running technique and which players need polish at the next level.

Tight Ends

The tight ends have all the responsibilities of the receivers, and will have to show the same things in the same drills.

Tight ends will run a slightly different route tree:

Tight End Routes

1. Flat Route – to the left only at 0-2 yard depth

2. In Route – to the left at 12 yards depth

3. Hook Route – to the right at 12 yards depth

4. Wheel Route – to the left only

5. Corner Route – to left at 12 yards depth

They will also have to do a blocking drill that simulates blocking in-line in the run or pass games. The prospects will want to show off hand positioning, hip flexion, and general explosiveness.

Use this as your open thread for today’s workouts and enjoy the show!