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Combine Stock Watch: QB, WR, RB

Posted Feb 24, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason takes a look at the notable performers from Sunday's workouts.

INDIANAPOLIS --It's not just about 40 times, although for Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson, his sprints up the sideline at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday didn't hurt his cause.

Richardson was one of the smoothest wide receivers in the other drills, as well. In the cross-field gauntlet drill, he fielded passes quickly and cleanly, and moved with ease. Whether he closed the gap on other receivers ticketed for the first round, including Clemson's Sammy Watkins, is overrated. But Richardson showed he belonged near the top of a receiver class that is among the best in recent memory.

Still, his day will remembered for his 4.4-second 40-yard dash time.

The significance of Robinson's speed numbers is that he maintained his swiftness after adding 14 pounds to his frame. Richardson said he played last season at 162 pounds "at the most," but weighed 175.9 pounds at the Combine. He's not done adding weight, but his ability to maintain 4.4 speed augurs well for him if he adds another 10 to 15 pounds before he makes his NFL debut.

Small wide receivers led the way in terms of raw speed, but Mississippi's Donte Moncrief could get a second look from teams after clocking a 4.4 40-yard dash time with a 221-pound frame. 

Saginaw Valley State's Jeff Janis posted a 4.42-second time with a 219-pound frame, and also showed his quickness in the three-cone drill, which he completed in 6.64 seconds. Of the top 10 receivers in the three-cone, Janis was the only one who weighed more than 200 pounds. He was also the only 200-plus receiver to complete the short shuttle in less than four seconds. After a strong week at the Senior Bowl last month, the pieces of Janis' future are falling nicely into place.

RUNNING BACKS

Dri Archer's 40-yard dash time of 4.26 seconds led the way, but let's be honest: a 173-pounder shouldn't necessarily be lumped with the rest of the running backs. He's of a different skill set and a different size.

Georgia Southern's Jerick McKinnon might have earned a second glance from teams; he had the second-fastest 40-yard dash time of any running back (4.41 seconds). 

NFL Network analyst described McKinnon as a "real wild card in this draft." He was a quarterback in college for a team that rarely passed; McKinnon threw just 17 passes last season, but had 161 carries and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. The speed and size blend is there, but the paucity of snaps in pre-snap alignments like he will use in the NFL makes him a projection. 

Oklahoma's Damien Williams was the heaviest back to record a sub-4.5 40-yard dash; the 221-pounder checked in with a 4.45-second time, fourth-best among all running backs. His speed/size blend was the best of the running backs who worked out, followed by McKinnon and Stanford's Tyler Gaffney, a 220-pounder who clocked a 4.49-second time.

QUARTERBACKS

It's doubtful that Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater hurt his draft stock irreparably. Although throwing at the Scouting Combine would have earned him deeper respect in the eyes of the football cognoscenti -- and when healthy, is the right thing to do -- he will have other chances to throw. Given the film on him, it is likely that the interview process will do more to determine his landing spot.

But among those quarterbacks who did throw, Central Florida's Blake Bortles stood well above the field, with plenty of velocity and good touch on his deep throws, as well. With Fresno State's Derek Carr and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel also bypassing the throwing work Sunday, it was up to Bortles to demonstrate the gap between the top quarterbacks and the others.

But there is depth at this position, too. Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo had flashes of brilliance after turning some heads at last month's Senior Bowl and could be a second-day pick.

Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas also continues to intrigue. He had the fastest 40-yard dash time of any Combine quarterback, once the official times were calculated. The measurables are there, but the 6-foot-6, 248-pounder will have to be coached into an NFL quarterback, and will have to develop a better feel for the pass rush, a trouble spot that was not going to be evident in a workout "in underwear," as Broncos head coach John Fox has noted in past years.

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