2015 NFL Combine Day 2: Quarterbacks take center stage
All eyes were on Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The two quarterbacks, who appear to be fighting to become No. 1 overall pick, have been compared side-by-side throughout the pre-draft process, and they showcased their skills in front of all 32 NFL teams at Lucas Oil Field on Saturday.
But Mariota wasn't the only Pac-12 signal-caller who took part in the action. UCLA's Brett Hundley, Oregon State's Sean Mannion and Washington State's Connor Halliday also represented the Conference of Champions, giving the Pac-12 the nation's biggest quarterback group of any conference at the combine.
When it came to the 40-yard dash, Mariota left the other quarterbacks in the dust. Oregon's dual-threat superstar ran the 40 in an unofficial time of 4.52 seconds, which was the fastest for any quarterback since Robert Griffin III ran it in 4.41 seconds in 2012. Vine user Vinnyviner shared this simultaneous video of Mariota and Winston racing each other, and it wasn't even close.
Both Mariota and Winston stayed true to their word and went through the entire battery of tests, including throwing, before sitting down with NFL Networks to discuss their day on the turf. Quarterbacks in the past have been averse to throwing to unfamiliar receivers in a high-pressure environment, but Mariota and Winston appeared to do nothing to hurt their respective draft stocks on Saturday. Respected draft analyst Mike Mayock of NFL.com commended Mariota for his performance in the spotlight.
If there was any Pac-12 player who boosted his stock on Saturday at the combine, it was definitely Sun Devil wide receiver Jaelen Strong. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound target has spent the past two seasons terrorizing opposing secondaries, but his impressive numbers in Indy may have solidified his stock as a first-round pick. Strong recorded an impressive 4.4-second mark in the 40-yard dash while ranking second with his vertical leap of 42 inches.
Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports relayed some good news from Indianapolis, where he said there was plenty of buzz surrounding Strong's size, speed and ball skills. Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke also named Strong as one of the draft's biggest "risers" on Day 2 of the combine.
Hundley has been on the NFL draft radar since he was eligible to declare last season, and on Saturday he showed off his athleticism with solid marks in the 40-yard dash (4.63 seconds), the vertical jump (36 inches) and the broad jump (10 feet). Jim Corbett of USA Today detailed Hundley's performance on Saturday, saying he was thoroughly impressed with Hundley's arm strength and accuracy. Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register also wrote about Hundley's improved draft stock following his day at Indy.
Mannion and Mariota might have battled each other in the great state of Oregon the past few years, but they're worlds apart when it comes to the 40-yard dash. In fact, Mannion's unofficial time of 5.14 seconds was the slowest of the 13 quarterbacks in attendance.
Still, Mannion performed well in the throwing portion of the workout, showing off the arm that racked up 13,600 passing yards throughout his career, the most of any quarterback in Pac-12 history. Joel Klatt of FOX Sports tweeted that he thinks Mannion established himself as the draft's third-best quarterback behind Mariota and Winston.
Ty Montgomery was tough to contain throughout his impressive three-year career at Stanford as a wideout and return man. But that blazing speed wasn't on display Saturday, as Montgomery ran unofficial times of 4.55 and 4.58 in the 40, which were both slower than expected.
Chris Burke of SI wrote that Montgomery's draft stock fell after his 40-yard dash and for measuring in at less than 6-foot, despite being listed at 6-foot-2 throughout his college career.
The combine might be a non-contact workout, but Nelson Agholor dislocated his finger on Saturday while going through workouts, according to NFL Networks' Kim Jones. Still, the speedy wide receiver finished his full day of activities, highlighted by his 4.42-second time in the 40-yard dash.
Agholor wasn't the only Trojan to take part in the action on Day 2 of the combine, as Buck Allen turned in a 4.53-second, 40-yard dash to rank sixth among running backs.
Without a big-name profile and as part of a stacked wide receivers class this year, Kaelin Clay was hoping to open some eyes with a blazing 40-yard dash time at the combine. But with a disappointing 4.51-second mark in front of all the NFL personnel in Indianapolis, Clay has to improve before Utah's pro day.
"A 40 time doesn't defy [sic] you as a player," Clay tweeted after his workout, "disappointed but it'll get better y'all see what I do on the field."
Clay's fellow receiver from Utah, Dres Anderson, was focused on acing his interviews in Indianapolis after injuring his left knee during the season, and bench press was the only physical test he took on Saturday. Josh Furlong of KSL in Salt Lake reported that Anderson is expected to run a 40-yard dash at Utah's pro day before the draft.
Despite ranking among the NCAA's best in catches (106) and yards (1,483) last season, Vincent Mayle still has some work to do if he wants to impress NFL brass. Mayle measured in at 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, but his 4.67-second time in the 40-yard dash leaves a lot of room for improvement. DL Xavier Cooper talked with Pac-12 Networks about chasing his NFL dream.
Connor Halliday suffered tough break this past season when he fractured his leg with just three games left to go in the season. The quarterback has maintained a positive outlook despite being sidelined for the combine woukout sessions, per Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today.
No Huskies took part in the on-field activities during Saturday's combine session, but Shaq Thompson and Marcus Peters met the media to discuss their prospects for the NFL.
While Peters spent his press conference taking the blame for his season-ending suspension in November, much of the conversation around Thompson was focused on his position at the next level. Thompson established himself as a tenacious defender and tough running back last season. According to Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune, Thompson told teams he is best suited to play outside linebacker in NFL.
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