The 300-plus prospects at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine all took turns showcasing their talent for 32 clubs. The workouts, some better than others, will play a valuable role in the evaluation process.
It’s not everything though.
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“What they do here, we gather the numbers like everybody else, but it still comes down to the film,” Baalke said last week in Indianapolis. “What do they do on film? That remains the most important thing for us as evaluators and it’ll continue to be moving forward.”
Game film aside, let’s take a look at five prospects who appeared to raise their draft stock with solid combine results.
Running Back - Dri Archer - Kent State
Two-tenths of a second. That’s all that separated Archer from tying Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson’s combine record in the 40-yard dash. Archer, a 5-foot-8 runner who scored 11 touchdowns as a junior, posted the best 40 time in the 2014 combine with a time of 4.26. While everyone clamors over these results, Archer gave writers, NFL personnel and fans at home something to remember with an impressive time. Archer was among the top performers of all running backs in four combine categories: 40-yard dash, vertical jump (38 inches), three-cone drill (6.86 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.06 seconds).
Quarterback - Blake Bortles - UCF
Put the combine testing aside for one second. Bortles really did his damage with his willingness to compete. The AAC Offensive Player of the Year and Davey O’Brien Award finalist wanted to participate in every aspect of the combine, throwing included. Other top quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr sat out of the throwing drills. Bortles, on the other hand, took advantage of the attention and had a solid showing in his field tests. Bortles ran a 4.93, 40-yard dash. He also posted a 32.5-inch vertical jump and 115-inch broad jump, both marks were among the best out of the combine quarterbacks.
Cash money. Cooks, the 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver, posted the fastest 40 time by a wideout with a 4.33. Cooks also received $100,000 from a sneaker company for being the top runner at his position. Cooks likely made more money in the form of raising his draft stock. Cooks tied the previous combine record in the 20-yard shuttle (3.81 seconds) and set a new record in the 60-yard shuttle (10.72 seconds). The 5-foot-10, 189-pound wideout strengthened his portfolio with 16 reps on the bench press, five fewer than defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina.
Linebacker - Khalil Mack - Buffalo
Size, speed and power. The second-team All-American linebacker has all the physical tools needed to play in the professional ranks. Mack posted a 4.65, 40, and was measured with a 40-inch vertical and 128-inch broad jump. The Buffalo linebacker had the second-best vertical jump among linebackers and ranked eighth overall among all prospects at the combine. At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, Mark has the movement skills to be a disruptive defender in the NFL.
Cornerback - Justin Gilbert - Oklahoma State
Gilbert looked very much like a fluid athlete during his combine workout. The second-team All-American posted a 4.37, 40 – the best mark among all defensive back prospects. Gilbert continued his excellent performance with 20 reps on the bench press and added explosive numbers with a 35.5-inch vertical jump and a 126-inch broad jump. Gilbert did an excellent job of stating his case to be the first cornerback drafted in 2014.