Insider: NFL Combine Notebook
Alas, the NFL Combine is completed and plenty of information was gathered about the prospective prospects, free agents and coaching futures. We are going to share some of what we learned by talking to coaches, scouts and team execs.
Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the Workouts
One of the most exciting things for the millions of viewers who tuned in to the NFL Network this weekend was the viewing of the 40-yard dashes. We saw Robert Griffin, III run a blazing 4.41 (officially) while Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill lit the normally slow track of Lucas Oil Stadium up with a 4.36.
On the flip side, Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright clocked in at 4.61, LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle ran a 4.55 and his highly touted teammate, cornerback Morris Claiborne didn’t exactly turn heads with his 4.50 in the 40.
What does this all mean?
Not a great deal. Robert Griffin isn’t going to be selected second overall because of his ability to run fast in a straight line. Stephen Hill is a very interesting prospect at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, but the 4.36 40-yard dash doesn’t equate him to former Georgia Tech alum Calvin Johnson. Would Kendall Wright and Rueben Randle have liked to run better? Sure, but the times on those two receivers won’t scare off many teams.
“Kendall Wright plays much faster than he was clocked,” one league source said. “We’re not concerned at all.”
As for Morris Claiborne, if he ran a 4.35 or a 4.50 it doesn’t change the fact that he will be the very first cornerback off the board. Claiborne is still likely a Top 5 pick and won’t slip past the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick number seven.
A prominent NFL general manager explained the use of Combine times and Pro Days.
“This is just another piece of information in a grand assessment of a player. We hope to see that the times back up what we see on film,” the GM explained.
Stephen Hill’s 40 time is fantastic and it shows what kind of upside he presents. Teams should spend much more time evaluating his 28 receptions this year to try and figure out what kind of player he will be on the next level. We’ve seen “Workout Warriors” such as Tony Mandarich, Mike Mamula and Matt Jones wow at the combine only to get overdrafted and overpaid followed by fans getting exacerbated.
The moral of the story is that the historically good franchises trust the tape much more than they do the stopwatch.
Flynn Is the Biggest Chess Piece
As everyone waits for the Colts to cut ties with Peyton Manning, the real whale in the free agency waters is Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn. Although opinions differ on Flynn’s potential (which will happen after just two career NFL starts), the consensus opinion is that he will get a sizable deal to be a starting quarterback for some needy team, likely the Dolphins, Browns or Seahawks.
One league source is very impressed with Flynn’s potential.
“I saw Flynn run a Packers practice after I watched (Aaron) Rodgers run one and there was virtually no difference,” the league source said.
Others are not so sure.
“I see this guy as another Kevin Kolb or A.J. Feeley,” another source said of Flynn. “We all know he will get paid but I wouldn’t be the guy who pays him.”
Flynn is the main domino as wherever he goes will be a determining factor on which team signs Peyton Manning, then ultimately Robert Griffin, III followed by Ryan Tannehill.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie