The 2014 NFL Combine Recap is a Masterpiece… I think.
If the 2014 NFL Draft Class were a Leonardo da Vinci painting, it would be the Mona Lisa. Are either the best ever? Probably not, but here’s what is similar: a depth of talent from the top of the draft to the bottom, and from the forefront to the background of the painting. Centerpieces that draw the eye are on one hand, Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, and on the other, Mona Lisa. They leave you with some questions, sure: can they play? Is she smiling? But it’s those questions that attract people’s attention. One difference? This year’s Draft Class has the potential to be one of the most celebrated of all time, but the Mona Lisa has already become one of the most celebrated paintings in history. Can the 2014 NFL Draft Class follow through?
If game tape is their first test, the NFL Combine was their next test. Wrapping up this past Tuesday, the NFL Combine continues to grow in viewership and as a spectacle every year. And this year’s rookies didn’t disappoint. Here’s what we learned:
These guys can run. Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.53 second 40-yard dash. That’s faster than every quarterback but Robert Griffin III since 2006. 11 of the 31 cornerbacks that ran put up a 4.4 or better – who says all the best athletes play offense?Running back Dri Archer ran a 4.26 second 40-yard dash. Dude also posted the best numbers of any RB on the bench press, meaning he’s strong. Would you prefer whiffing on the tackle or getting destroyed when you do make contact? Sounds like a lose-lose to me. Archer was .03 seconds shy of breaking the 40-yard dash combine record, held by speedster running back Chris Johnson.
Sammy Watkins looks like the best wide receiver prospect since A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Besides having great hands and run after the catch ability, he clocked in at 4.43 seconds in the 40. After this weekend, no doubt he’s moving up draft boards.
More than just their wheels, this cornerback class clearly has plenty to offer. Think teams will try to copy the Seahawks defense after last year’s dominating performance? Well yeah – duh. And this is the cornerback group to do it, too. They’re fast, big, and long-armed to jam receivers at the line. If I’m an NFL GM, I’m looking at them and thinking Richard Sherman, only younger.
Thought I forgot about quarterbacks? Never. Based on the way they threw this weekend – and some didn’t, mind you – here are my top five prospects: Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles, McCarron, and Carr, though I’m hesitant naming Bortles, since I’m reluctant to believe that a guy named Bortles can be a star quarterback. Murray and Mettenburger would merit consideration, but they’re both coming off injuries. Both Boyd and Thomas seemed hella shaky with their footwork, so for now, they’re out of the top five too.
When all was said and done at the combine, the 2014 Draft Class killed it. Many draft experts have six or seven prospects rated higher than last year’s number one pick, Eric Fisher. If none of these other bullet points meant anything to you, at least remember that. This class is loaded with talent, making the pain of waiting for the 2014 NFL Draft in May that much more excruciating.