Okay, so this is where I get all geeked out. I not only watch every minute of the Combine, I TiVo it and watch it a few more times. I love the fact that this is the very exacting portion of a truly inexact science. But as I watch, I am always thinking to myself, "would Dallas have a shot at this guy?" and "would he help us if we drafted him?". Obviously, this year, I am not spending much time on front runners and am looking at guys who will be there at #51 or within striking distance if Dallas chose to move up.
So, for those of you who DON'T have NFL Network or just didn't have the time, here is what I've seen from the Offensive invitees thus far, and any other highly opinionated musings;
Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss - This guy flat out impressed me. Now I never saw him play in college (it's Mississippi, for cryin out loud!), but after flashing a 40 in the low 4.3's, going 40" plus in the vertical and watching him outrun every ball thrown his way and explode out of his cuts, you can bet I am youtubing (is that a word?) him to death now. This guy is a late 2nd or early 3rd rounder and all I can say is WOW. Reminds me of Eddie Royal...
Other WR stuff: Heyward-Bey will drop more balls than he catches, but someone will fall in love with his triangle numbers. Johnny Knox (who?) is going to streak up draft boards with a blazing 40 and good show of hands. Maclin was Maclin and that is just plain good. Percy Harvin ran a 4.41 but chose not to run routes (moron) and that will cost him millions. The WR's were fast in the 40 (much more so than last year) and overall, look much more NFL ready than last year's class.
Ian Johnson, RB, Boise State - this guy is going to make some team very happy when they pick him. At around 210 pounds, the guy ran a 4.46 and he just looks like a football player. Smooth, confident, did everything well and is a good character guy. Please don't let an NFC East team get this guy!!
Other RB notes: they looked slow...sorry, but not just in the 40, they looked like the Under Armor shoes added 10 pounds to them. Andre Brown from NC State, reminds me of MB3 with more breakaway ability. Beanie Wells ran a 4.6, and that will leave a mark. Make no mistake, with the exception of Knowshon (now THAT is a name!), this is more of a 'run over and through you' class of RB's than last year's lightning fast crop led by Mendenhall, McFadden, Chris Johnson and Felix Jones.
TE's: I spent the least time on this group since we don't need one (now watch us go draft one). Pettigrew looks like the next Antonio Gates, only bigger (yikes!). Jared Cook from So. Carolina ran a 4.5 40, and then jumped 41" in the vertical which, for a 245-pound dude, is impressive. He caught the ball with his hands during drills, but dropped a couple. The rest of the TE's were just guys.
OL: Since Dallas could use some depth here, I watched the 3 cone coupled with the bench press drills intently. A.Q. Shipley stood out in several drills. Eric Wood from Louisville looks like the next Kevin Mawae, he has a good anchor, is strong and looked like he understood all the angles. Will Beatty from UConn didn't hurt himself, but this is a guy who COULD be there at #51, depending on whether or not there is a run on OT's like the past 2 years. I like his nimble feet and long arms. A well-known Jonathan Luigs, of Arkansas fame, could be there at 51 as well, and he has some pop and strength for an interior guy. He can play all inside spots too. Eben Britton looked like he had more brains than brawn.
QB's: so this is my soft spot...because I really want Dallas to pick a developmental guy who becomes the next Tom Brady (who doesn't?), so I was looking for anything that gave me some hope. Now, I don't want to write about him because he'll become the talk of the town and then we'll lose our shot at him, but Mike Reilly from Central Washington threw every ball the way it was supposed to be thrown and looked good in all the drills. He's not a big guy, so that might scare us off. Curtis Painter threw well too. The interesting thing about this group of QB's? They're a short group. Most are in the 6'0" to 6'3" range and there don't seem to be any Joe Flacco's or Matt Ryan's (big strong pocket passers who are tall enough to see the whole field) in this bunch.
So, while there may be gold in them there hills, thus far, there have been no overly memorable performances (except maybe Pettigrew's) that make me go "ooh, we need him!". So, let's hope this no-name class of safeties and interior d-linemen produce some jaw dropping moments later in the Combine. Lord knows we could use a NT and a Safety.