We'll have MUCH more on the NFL combine in the coming days (hopefully including some actual and well organized thoughts) but I wanted to chime in with a few of my observations this morning before the always ubiquitous "expert" commentary overtakes the interwebs. With absolutely no rhyme or reason, they are as followed...
- I have to admit, I am both surprised and impressed with former Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey's 40-yard dash time. With everyone boasting of his amazing speed over the past few weeks (some of the more imaginative fans and pundits were claiming he'd run a '4.2') I was sort of hoping he'd come up short of expectations just to put some of the more inflated ideas about 40-yard dash times to rest. Sure enough (and making me look like a idiot) the 6'2 wideout clocked out with an official 4.3/40 however, the third fastest time among wideouts since 2000. Seeing as though he attended one of my high school's league rivals (McDonogh School outside of Baltimore) I'm still not jumping on the bandwagon yet, but that's more to do with me than anything else.
- On the subject of 40 times I was not completely off in my outlook however, as my claim that 40 times seen at the high school and collegiate level are often inflated appears to have held true when it came to this year's running back class. Case in point, the fastest "official" time was Cedric Peerman's 4.45. Ian Johnson helped himself out tremendously with a second best 4.46 at the position, while only two other running backs (Kory Sheets and Andre Brown) ran sub 4.5's. Still plenty fast for a running back, but try telling that to last year's critics who claimed that the 40-yard dash times of the Jacob Hesters of the world put him out of the running to be an actual NFL running back. So why is it that KnowshonMoreno or Shonn Green get to be running backs with times in the 4.6's (still plenty fast for running backs) while a Jacob Hester (4.6) or Peyton Hillis (4.58) get slotted at fullback?
- Percy Harvin ran a 4.41 40-yard dash. Ankle injury or not, this makes me (and should make you) somewhat skeptical of all those supposed "sub 4.3" guys Urban Meyer claims to have on his roster.
- Arizona wide receiver Mike Thomas had a great postseason in terms of his All-Star workouts and showings. He only built on that success on Sunday, running a 4.40/40, posting a 40.5 vertical, and claiming a 10'9'' broad-jump. Say what you want about his lack of size (5'8), but this guy not only has money hands but also everything else you look for in a wide receiver.
- Kicker David Buehler is, technically, stronger in terms of upper-body strength than all but three tight ends. I find this apparent fact earth-shattering.
- Biggest winners so far? I think you have to really look at Ian Johnson and Donald Brown at running back, as well as UVA product Cedric Peerman. Last week Brian and I talked to Chris Caple of DraftDaddy.com about the depth of this class, and not one of those guys came up. While Johnson is not likely to vault himself into the first day with his combine, he does put himself back into the mid-round mix after some people labeled him more of a free agent type. And all things considered I think Donald Brown answered questions about his measurables, which were the only thing naysayers had left when trying to dispute his production last season at UConn.
Like I said, more to come as the week goes on. What are YOUR initial thoughts?