Quick thoughts on the NFL Combine Quarterbacks
After being able to sit in for both quarterback throwing sessions on Sunday, here are my quick thoughts on most of them:
- Geno Smith/West Virginia: He was very solid during the second throwing session. He’s clearly the #1 QB for this draft. If any of the teams in the top-10 are going to take a quarterback in the first round, it’s going to be Smith. His 4.59 40-yard dash time was also impressive, but Smith his not known for his running. He's really a pocket quarterback.
- Ryan Nassib/Syracuse: If you’ve been reading anything from me since the year started, then you probably know how I feel about him. While I thought he was just average during today’s first throwing session, nothing has changed. He should go off the board late in the first round/early second round area. All you need to do is watch his Senior Bowl practice tape or 4-5 of his game tapes to see that he’s a very talented signal caller.
- Tyler Bray/Tennessee: He was very impressive during Sunday’s first throwing session. Bray, who threw with really good power, certainly looked the part. You could make the argument that Bray had one of the best performances from either session based on accuracy and power. However, his game tape does not match up to what I saw today. So it will be interesting to see how much teams take into account from the throwing session without defenders on the field. That’s always a dilemma for personnel evaluators.
- E.J. Manuel/Florida St: He’s really fun to watch. The ball comes out of his right hand with tremendous velocity and power. However, as I saw up close during Senior Bowl week practices, he has random accuracy issues. What his means is he’ll make a few really good throws, but the next one goes way off the mark. It comes down to mechanics with Manuel. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re taking him off the board before the third round, you’re doing is based on upside, not consistency. Much about Manuel's game will be discussed inside personnel meetings going forward--that much you can count on. He's the most interesting quarterback available for this year's draft.
- Mike Glennon/North Carolina St: Typically of Glennon, he had mixed results during the first session. When he had his feet set correctly, the ball came out with power and velocity. When his footwork was off, the passes were off the mark—and some of them actually came up short. Can’t rule it out, but I can’t see him going off the board in the first round. His game tape, Senior Bowl practice week performances, and NFL Combine performances show a big inconsistency. He still remains very intriguing based on his arm strength, but Glennon needs work on the mechanics of his game.
- Matt Scott/Arizona: After having a solid set of practices during East-West Shrine game week, Scott followed that up with a really solid performance during Sunday’s second throwing session. While he clearly needs to put on weight, Scott actually threw with good velocity and power. I’ve been told repeatedly this week that Scott will go off the board much higher than most “draftniks” think. We shall see, but he’s off to a really good start this year. If his game tape matches up with his 2013 post-season, Scott could go off the board early on the third day of April’s NFL Draft.
- Landry Jones/Oklahoma: Just like his Senior Bowl practice week performances, Jones was up and down during Sunday’s first throwing session. I thought he was going to be a third-round pick before today, so nothing has changed.
- Tyler Wilson/Arkansas: After having a solid set of practices during January’s Senior Bowl week, Wilson was a bit inconsistent with his accuracy during Sunday’s second session. I gave Wilson a third-round grade before Sunday, and nothing really has changed in that regard.
- Marqueis Gray/Minnesota: I’ve never seen him play, so I had no expectations during Sunday’s first session. From what I understand, he projects to be a late-round pick—if he gets drafted at all. However, Gray was poised, under control, and accurate. At the very least, he’ll force teams to go back and re-watch his game tape.
- Brad Sorensen/Southern Utah: The right-handed passer had a better than average performance during Sunday’s second throwing session. He had decent touch on his deeper passes. Having seen Sorensen play for the past two seasons, he came into the Combine likely as a late-round pick, but he should have at least opened up some eyes.
- James Vandenberg/Iowa: He was added as a “thrower” for the practice session, but Vandenberg was given a chance to get in extra throws—much like T.J. Yates did here two years ago – and was impressive for the most part. He threw with good power and distance on plenty of his passes. While Vandenberg was projected to go off the board late (if he gets drafted at all), he should at least have personnel evaluators go back and re-watch his tape.
- Collin Klein/Kansas St: He has a very funky release, which I’ve now seen up close during East-West Shrine Game week practices and at the Combine. And he simply is unable to drive the ball with power down field. The reality is if he gets drafted, it would be based on his high character and intelligence, not his talent level.
Projected First-Round Pick Has Plenty of Meetings at Combine
Former University of Oklahoma OLT Lane Johnson caused a big stir after his outstanding set of practices during last month’s Senior Bowl week practices. And that wasn’t lost on NFL teams.
Johnson, who benched 28 reps at 225 lbs. during Thursday’s workout session, has meetings with at least 20 teams over the next few days.
He has met with or will meet with the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and others.
Teams are allowed to meet with up to 60 players during the NFL Combine. Each meeting is limited to 15 minutes.
Johnson, who played quarterback in high school, played the position for one season in community college (Kilgore). He redshirted his first season at Oklahoma.
After that, Johnson moved all over the place on both sides of the ball.
In 2010, Johnson began the season at tight end, but eventually moved to the other side of the ball to defensive end.
After that, it was back to the offensive side of the ball for the 2011 season, where he started 12 games at right tackle.
For his final season, Johnson moved to left tackle, which is where he lined up during Senior Bowl week.
49ers: Jean-Francois could be in store for a Nice Payday
I asked three high-ranking NFL executives this week for a quick list of players some under-the-radar players for free agency.
While their opinions differed quite a bit, one name that showed up on all three lists was San Francisco 49ers DL Ricky Jean-Francois.
Jean-Francois has only started five games in his career and hasn’t played in more than 27 percent of the defensive snaps in any season, but one of the executives noted that the fifth-year pro brings outstanding interior pass rush in nickel situations. And his versatility is a big reason why he could receive a lot of attention at the start of the new league year on March 12. The 49ers want him back, sources confirmed, but should he make it to free agency, his ability to move around the defensive line could be the big reason why he garners attention next month.
Jean-Francois has lined up at NT and DE in the 49ers’ 3-4 defensive scheme, but NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell said that Jean-Francois could certainly play in a 4-3 scheme, since he played in it in college at LSU.
Eagles: Dixon Contract Details
While the team has made it clear that restructuring veteran QB Michael Vick’s contract isn’t a sign that he’ll be on the roster this season, new Philadelphia Eagles QB Dennis Dixon’s two-year deal shouldn’t be a sign be an indication that he’ll be on the roster, either.
Dixon’s two-year deal is worth just under $1.6 million, a source confirmed, with $25,000 guaranteed. The deal also includes playing time and performance escalators, which would max out the deal at just over $2.6 million if the 28-year old signal caller hits on all of them.
Bengals: Maualuga Likely Gone?
While speculation continues in regard to the future of Cincinnati Bengals MLB Rey Maualuga, it’s likely that the team will pass on re-signing the fifth-year pro, a source with the knowledge of the situation said.
Maualuga played in a career-high 1025 snaps during the 2012 season, but struggled with game-to-game consistency. The former second-round pick out of the 2009 NFL Draft started all 16 regular season games for the first time in his career.
With Maualuga likely gone, the team is expected to move second-year LB Vontaze Burfict to the middle. Burfict not only made the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason, he won the starting WLB job as a rookie. Burifct, who was not drafted, wound up starting 14 games and participated in 886 snaps last season.
If Maualuga is not re-signed, then the team could make a stronger push to re-sign LB Dan Shuta, who would likely compete for the starting job at SLB.