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Wrapping up the Combine

Posted Feb 26, 2012

With Luck and Griffin not throwing in Indy, pre-draft focus turns to March Pro Days

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The weekend will come and go, and the big names will not throw.

That has been perhaps the biggest news at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, and while it’s not unusual that the top quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft chose to spend their weekend in Indianapolis mostly talking, running and being measured, it makes the dynamics of this year’s pre-draft process clearer.

The big moments? The high-profile days? Those won’t take place for several weeks, when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are scheduled to throw at their respective Pro Days.

“I bounced it off my agent and my father and felt like it was in my best interest to wait until Pro Day so we'll go from there,” Luck said during the combine, scheduled to run through Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

Luck, who many expect to be taken by the Colts No. 1 overall in the April 26-28 NFL Draft, will get his chance to solidify that status on March 22 when Stanford holds its Pro Day.

Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner and a player many expect to be selected at No. 2 by a team trading with St. Louis for that spot, is scheduled to work out at Baylor’s Pro Day the same day.

Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill – projected as a late first-round selection -- won’t throw until his until his March 7 Pro Day because of a foot injury, and Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler won’t throw until the school’s March 24 Pro Day.

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com said while those four quarterbacks not throwing made for a less high-profile day Sunday, it will make the March Pro Day period even more critical.

“That’s certainly an area we’ll focus in on,” he said.

While Griffin and Luck didn’t throw Sunday at the combine workouts, each participated in other drills. Griffin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds and Luck ran it in 4.67 seconds.

Griffin’s 40 time was the fastest for a quarterback at the combine since Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal ran a 4.36 in 2006. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, ran 4.59 at the combine last year.

A look at other draft-related issues coming out of the combine:

*While the combine continues for scouts and personnel officials through Tuesday, the media portion of the event ended Sunday. Defensive linemen and linebackers are scheduled to work out at Lucas Oil Stadium Monday and defensive backs will work out Tuesday.

*The wide receiver class is considered a deep one – even beyond those projected in the first round such as Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, Kendall Wright of Baylor and Michael Floyd of Notre Dame. Mohamad Sanu of Rutgers, Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina, Rueben Randle of Louisiana State and Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech are also projected to be selected by the end of the second round. One concern on the receiver class, though, is that the depth is mostly underclassmen. Sanu, Jeffery, Randle and Hill are juniors, and it’s historically difficult for underclassman receivers drafted outside the first round to make huge immediate impact. Rang said that could make it difficult for a team such as the Jaguars, with Blaine Gabbert entering his second season as the starter. “It’s one of the strengths of this year’s draft, largely based on the underclassmen coming out,” Rang said. “At the same time, whenever you have a wide receiver class that is largely based on underclassmen it’s unrealistic to expect a lot of these rookies are going to make an immediate impact, especially when you have a young quarterback. This is a very talented group. I don’t know that it’s going to be that much more productive immediately than past receiver classes have been.”

*Sunday was an important day for the wide receiver class. While Blackmon and Jeffery chose not to run, Floyd may have solidified his status as a first-round selection with a 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash, while Sanu ran a 4.67 and Wright ran a 4.61. Randle ran a 4.55 40, while Hill solidified his stock with a 4.36.

*Among the most-discussed topics in Indianapolis this week: the rise of Louisiana State defensive tackle Michael Brockers. A redshirt sophomore, he has risen up mock draft boards in recent weeks and some around the combine believe he’ll continue to do so. He measured 6-feet-5, 322 pounds and he – like the rest of the defensive line and linebackers – is scheduled to run Monday. He said he finished the season at 317 pounds and added five pounds without trying to do so. “I didn’t really plan on gaining weight,” he said. “It’s just drinking supplements, lifting weights differently pumped me up. I think I put on more muscle mass than anything else. I feel like at 322, I can move a lot better than some other guys can move. So I feel like that’s my biggest strength – how big I am and how quick I am. . . . But I’m just blessed to have this body frame and still be quick with it.”

*With two months remaining before the draft, Rang said he sees the Top 3 selections as Luck to Indianapolis with Griffin III going No. 2 to a team trading with St. Louis for the selection.  The Browns have been linked to Griffin often this week. After that, Rang said he sees Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil going No. 3 overall to the Minnesota Vikings. “There is a group of seven or eight prospects who are kind of established as the so-called elite,” Rang said. “Once you get past those guys, picks eight through 20, it’s much more up in the air.”

*Top-rated center Peter Konz, a projected later first-round selection did just 18 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press, which Rang said raises concerns over Konz’s strength. “For offensive tackles, it’s not as much of a concern as it is for an interior lineman,” Rang said. “For him only to have 18 reps coming from a strong run-producing offensive line, it’s a little bit of a red flag.”

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