2017 NFL Combine Day Two Recap

Wow, what a long and more importantly, impressive day. All three groups – quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends, represented themselves well. So let’s dive right in.

Quarterbacks

– It’s clear there is heavy interest in a quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers interviewing a whole host of them, six at last count.

Miami (FL)’s Brad Kaaya was one of the most polished players to work out today. Footwork was clean and consistent and though he doesn’t possess a big arm, he can make most of the throws underneath. Pitt’s Nathan Peterman is in a similar boat. Ball will float on the deep ball but his accuracy his strong underneath. Ball placement was excellent.

– Iowa’s C.J. Beathard is in a similar boat as those two. I like his carriage of the football and his quick release. Day Three, late round guy it’s looking like. You know I wouldn’t take a quarterback at that point but hey, someone will.

– I know a lot of people were tough on DeShone Kizer for his accuracy, and that’s fair, but I liked his feet getting away from center. Gained ground on his initial steps with a big, powerful lower half. That’s a good starting point. The rest can be worked on. All starts from the ground up.

– Possibly the first quarterback and overall pick taken, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky looked really good. Fluid in his drops, ball placement was good, and he showed an arm.

– Not saying it’s a good or bad thing but Cals’ Davis Webb holds the ball really high and tight. Basically right next to his earlobe. Great zip on the ball too. Velocity will help him downfield of course but also in tight windows underneath and in the red zone, where every throw is challenged.

– Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans was predictably slow in his footwork, he’s a really raw guy, but I wasn’t concerned with that. Slow isn’t bad. Better to be technical and slow than fast and wrong. But he struggled on the technical side of things too. In his five step drop, his strides were all the same length. Needs to start with three big and then two small gather steps to bring himself to balance. Looks like he needs a lot of work.

Wide Receiver

– The story of the day, of course, is Washington’s John Ross. You’re looking at the NFL Combine’s new record holder for the fastest 40, clocking in at a official 4.22, a full two hundredths better than Chris Johnson. That’s absurd but as Mike Mayock correctly pointed out on the broadcast, it was sorta expected. Everyone knew he was fast. I’ve entertained the idea of picking up Ross at 30 but I don’t expect him to be there anymore. Keep in mind he ran despite a history of knee injuries and a torn labrum he’s going to have surgery on in ten days. Makes it all the more impressive.

– Two receivers who might be in play for the Steelers at 30? Zay Jones and Carlos Henderson. I know WR might not feel like the most pressing need right now, and I have made arguments against it, but both guys can play in the slot and are much better after the catch threats than Eli Rogers, while also being able to play on the outside. Just think about it, is all I’m saying.

Jones had a great day, putting to rest any doubts over timed speed with a 4.45. His vertical was 36.5 inches, his broad 11’1″, and his short shuttle a crazy 4.01. I really liked Jones’ route running ability and catch radius at the Senior Bowl and he may have worked himself into late first round conversation.

Henderson did well too, running a 4.46 and jumping 36 inches. He might be the best receiver after the catch in this year’s class and should go in the Top 50 picks.

– Two guys who ran a lot better than most people expected. Michigan’s Amara Darboh and Penn State’s Chris Godwin. 4.45 and 4.42 respectively, two excellent times for guys 209+. Godwin’s hands were great in the gauntlet and I don’t think he dropped a pass. Natural catcher and fluid running down the line. He also turned in an absurd four flat in the short shuttle, tied for the best number of the group.

Godwin fits exactly what the Steelers look for if they take a receiver in the mid rounds. 6’1 209 with wheels and big play ability downfield. It fits and they have met with him.

– Northern Illinois’ Kenny Golladay put up some impressive numbers for 6’4 218, running a 4.5 flat. He looked good in the gauntlet as well, similar to Godwin.

Cooper Kupp didn’t run well, officially a 4.62, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Way overhyped for his Senior Bowl week, which was fine, but far from great. He’s just an average athlete and I still don’t think he’ll be able to separate well at the next level. His hands, however, were good, so I’ve basically given him the total white guy scouting report.

– Air Force’s Jalen Robinette was disappointing to me. Didn’t run fast (4.62), didn’t show much explosion in drills (10’0″ broad) and despite having a giant pair of hands, had several drops. That included one over his shoulder on a go ball, basically where he won exclusively in college.

– Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds had a pretty good day. The man who runs the Senior Bowl, Phil Savage, seemed impressed with him, too.

4.52 40, 37 inch vert, and a 4.13 in the short shuttle.

– Even on air, WKU’s Taywan Taylor made some difficult catches. Went all out and dove for a couple passes thrown well outside of his frame. Numbers weren’t great but his workout was solid.

– Akron’s Jerome Lane is a major project and you can see he is still fighting to catch the football. Several drops throughout.

– Local product from WVU, Shelton Gibson was rumored to run in the 4.3’s. Nope. He turned in a 4.5 flat. Yuck.

– We mentioned to keep an eye on Travin Dural’s 40 time to get a good gauge for his speed. The verdict? A 4.57. Not going to endear himself as a deep threat at the next level.

Tight End

– Man, this is a class for the ages. As basically everyone buzzed about, it’s arguably the best that’s been there in at least 15 years and maybe ever. Hard to pick out one guy who stole the show. They all rose to the moment.

– Have to be happy about OJ Howard’s 4.51 time at 251 pounds. Howard was getting a push from David Njoku for the best tight end and again, if you’re putting major emphasis on receiving traits, you might lean Njoku, but I think Howard is safe. Couple of drops in his workout but I still like his hands.

– Njoku was good though too. 4.64 for how big and built he looks is just fine. His other numbers were unreal, a 37.5 inch vert and 11’1″ broad. Insane.

Gerald Everett keeps squashing any concerns over him having bad hands just because they are small. Natural catcher who plucks away from his frame and turned in a solid 4.62 40 and fantastic 37.5 inch vert.

– Of course, Ole Miss’ Evan Engram had the most impressive workout. At 233 pounds, he ran a 4.42 and jumped 36 inches in the vert. A big receiver who gives effort as a blocker, he should be the third tight end off the board. Could the Steelers look at him at 30? He certainly won’t be there at 62.

– We finally get a live look at Ashland’s Adam Shaheen. I cautioned not to expect a 4.5 number and also to be happy with something in the 4.7’s given how massive his entire body is. That’s exactly what he did, hitting a 4.79 official. In drills, he isn’t the most explosive guy at the top of his route, again, not a surprise, but he’s super smooth and is an efficient route runner. With his size and good athleticism, there’s a lot to love.

– We also wrote to keep an eye on FIU’s Jonnu Smith. Good day. 4.62 and 248 pounds, a ridiculous 38 inch vert and 10’7″ in the broad. He’s a lean build and again, bit of a tweener, but I like him and his value.

– As blockers, I thought Jeremy Sprinkle was the best guy in drills. No wasted motion off the line and he has a wide base with great leg drive. He was smooth as a receiver too with good hands, though he is just an average athlete (4.69).

– Toledo’s Michael Roberts has one of those classic bubble butts to derive power from his lower half. Will be a good blocker in the league which is good, because he isn’t a strong athlete (4.86, 30 inch vert).

– Last two things. Bucky Hodges and George Kittle timed and tested well but I don’t think their timed speed translates on the field. Kittle can hang his hat on being a good blocker with big time leg drive. Hodges? If you saw him, he looked junior prom awkward in his three point stance.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Ross was a guy who I had eyes on about half way through the year but he wasn’t even thought as a 1st rounder. Just hate to see us take a WR in the 1st unless it was a Julio Jones type that fell to us. I like Godwin as I believe he will be a good ST player and potentially a decent WR. Good to see him and Taywan Taylor show strong as I like both of them.

  • T3xassteelers

    Didn’t get a chance to see the TEs, but I am excited to see who we end up coming say with. I don’t think TE is THAT huge of a need… But wouldn’t it be fun to have Green (if he’s finally healthy) AND Engram or someone like that on the field at once?? The next great TE duo (like Gronk and Hernandez)??

  • steelburg

    Stacy Coley and Rodney Adams low to mid 4.4’s both late round guys we can add to push our speed guys Coates and Bryant. I initially liked Coley better but I think Adams looked better today. Bucky Hodges definitely looked weird down in a 3 point stance, but man is he athletic. I would love to have him in the mid rounds. All these tight ends put on a show today I was really impressed by all of them. As a team you could probably take one any around and feel good about your pick.

  • Brian Tollini

    “Junior prom awkward”….love it.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    The most interesting take away of the day is Evan Engram putting himself into the conversation at 1.30.

    Running a 4.42 at 233 pounds is just insane. That is way better than Eric Ebron (4.60) who got drafted at #10 overall because he was a “speed” guy. Granted Engram is only 233 pounds, but still.

    How does an opposing team stop that kind of speed with a LB?… Answer… They don’t… You’ve got to put a safety or maybe even a CB against him. And then his blocking (which is decent to begin with) gets a whole lot better.

    Conclusion: Evan Engram is everything the Steelers wanted LaDarius Green to be. Might be our pick at 1.30.

  • Jon Crissinger

    I really did want Ross, but that won’t happen now. Kittle us a way bigger surprise to me

  • Jon Crissinger

    I’ve viewed him as a top 3 wide receiver since midway through the season. I got into an argument that he was way better than Dede Westbrook

  • Ace

    So excited to see how the PS handle the TE position. Even if the top 3 go off the board before 62, with a class this great that ain’t too bad a deal. With a team with such few needs its nice to be able to throw a luxury pick at a position like TE and still be able to fill other holes. FA should be fun too. If they go get a slot CB then that would REALLY open up those first four pick options. I was kind of against grabbing a TE early, but after watching those workouts, hard not to want a piece of the action.

  • Ace

    That’s what I’m thinking. A lot of uncertainty with the WR position, going TE early over WR might make more sense. Even if Green is back and healthy, the two of them can see the field at the same time. A lot harder to fit a high draft pick WR in that loaded room. The idea of Green and Engram running down the middle has me excited.

  • Brian Tollini

    Regardless of LaDarius Green’s status, it is going to be difficult not to draft a TE this year. So much talent.

  • Thanks for this bro. Great stuff!

  • Wil Masisak

    Best TE class in at least 15 years? 2010 says hi and spits on the 2017 class. I like this TE class, and it is quite deep… but we shall see if it stands the test of time. Also, I think Godwin is tailor made to be a Steelers pick– just depends on if he makes it end of round 3.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Probably sounds harsh but if we go WR or TE in round 1 I will consider it a failed draft. Defense please.

  • Wil Masisak

    list of better/faster speed ratios for guys that size or bigger: calvin johnson, ryan shazier, anthony barr, Blake Annen, Bruce Irvin that’s about it

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’ll vomit if we go TE in the 1st. I suppose UNLESS we are cutting Green post June and saving his 5 million.

    I could be talked into a WR like Corey Davis. But YES…. Defense, Defense, Defense.

  • CP72

    Agreed. Could imagine having Brown, Bryant, Bell, and Engram in the passing game. There’s no way to match up with that.

    I wish his last name started with a B 🙂

  • CP72

    I don’t think with his size and that time he goes late 3rd, but we can hope.

  • Boots

    To be fair Hodges wasn’t the only one that looked like a three point stance was a new concept, and there were several backfires coming out of it too. Lol There are some interesting guys in that group, but for me I can’t see taking a one dimensional TE early. Really think Sprinkle could be a good fit. Wondered a couple times if Butt may drop farther than expected with his knee

    Thought Staples would run faster, but thought he looked good on the gauntlet. Godwin and Reynolds both made themselves some money today.

  • Jamaal Hood

    Although I wasn’t a big fan of it at first I’m starting to like the idea. The biggest strength of our team is the offense but it’s Achilles heel is definitely the consistent red zone problems. A te will fix that.

  • Jaybird

    I was surprised at Kittles 40 time. That’s pretty impressive. I’m starting to warm up to this guy. Plus we already know he looks good in black and gold!

  • steelburg

    I have been yelling Sprinkle from day 1. The way Arkansas used him reminded me of the same way we used David Johnson this year. But he is superior to Johnson in every way. But man I can see shades of Ladarius Green in Hodges. To see what we have done developing Grimble and James I have no doubt we can turn Hodges around fairly quickly.

  • Lambert58

    Cooper Kupp will be fine. Jerry Rice ran a 4.71.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Kittle, A good blocker with bigtime leg drive at the TE position that also runs a 4.5? I will take it.When you see someone that finishes blocks like this kid it shows some desire and toughness, things you cant coach, he is definitely raw as a receiver but we can coach that up. I am not sure where his stock is at now.

  • Chad

    nnnjoekuuu … nnnjoekuu … nnnjoekuu … I can hear the stadium chanting already … But man, however this first round breaks it seems like Colbert and Tomlin will have a good option. All the depth this year seems to be in areas where we could benefit. I’d be happy with a TE, WR, or Edge with the first pick. And even a CB or S if the right one falls.

  • capehouse

    Don’t listen to google.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I thought dri was a 4.13?

  • Lambert58

    OK. Well how bout this for a little in-depth research: “According to Gil Brandt, it was no better than a 4.55: “We timed Jerry in the 40 nine times and he never got under 4.55.

  • Pghomer

    I’m totally with you on Kittle. Seems perfect later round TE that can do it all…in a Pgh kinda way. lol

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Not necessarily. We have big guys including JJ, they just never use those guys much in the redzone. I mean, we ran a corner to Cobi Hamilton last year.

  • Jaybird

    cooper Krupp- slow , good hands , typical white guy scouting report.
    I resemble that remark.

  • capehouse

    See. That sounds better than a 4.7 huh? There’s reports out there of him being in the 4.4s too.

  • Chad

    haha, I’m slow with good hands too … really slow … and white

  • Alex Kozora

    In terms of projection? Yeah, coming in, this beats 2010. You’ll have three TEs drafted before 2010 had their second taken.

  • Rubem Dornas

    You can call me crazy but I still think that we can go with Mahomes in the 1st. Not my will, but I really thing this can happen.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeah Staples’ time bummed me out a little. Like you said, still had a decent day. Just happy he was cleared from his concussion and able to compete.

  • Alex Kozora

    Officially a 4.26 at the Combine.

  • Brian Tollini

    Carlos Henderson is really fun to watch after the catch, no doubt. Alex, how did Chad Hansen do? One’s of my favs so far on tape.

  • Jaybird

    Lol. ” I resemble that remark” is a famous line from the Three Stooges.

    And yes, I am a slow white dude also .

  • TroymanianDevil

    Give me Godwin in the 3rd if he’s there. Dude beasted the 40, bench and gauntlet. And his tape speaks for itself

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    Look at his 10 yard split. It is terrible, past 1.7, and then you add in a 31 inch vertical and a sub-10′ broad jump and you have a guy that in the NFL is going to have to win solely with deception. You could put William Gay on him and let him try and out-technique a veteran who has lost a step but knows every trick in the book.

    He’s not running by anyone, Lawrence Timmons could cover him on a go route. He isn’t tall enough to go over people, because his vertical is poor, all he has is route running.

    AB has route running and speed. Heck Larry Fitzgerald is significantly faster and no one is respecting his speed. Kupp has so much to overcome to even be an NFL receiver, and I think he will do that, but to expect him to be a #1 receiver or a star is asking an incredible amount.

  • Alex Kozora

    Mayock said he ran slower than expected.

  • Wil Masisak

    Just because the entire NFL slept on the 2 Hall Of Famers at TE in that class, doesn’t make this overhyped TE class better. There’s no one in this class who is a Gronkowski, and I’m not sure there’s a Jimmy Graham, either. There are some intriguing prospects that might equal Gresham, Dickson, Moeaki, Aaron Hernandez (on the field), Dennis Pitta, Clay Harbor, Michael Hoomanawanui, Andrew Quarless, Logan Paulsen et al– but it’s far from a sure thing. That was an amazing TE class.

  • Zach Holzworth

    Not to mention Al Villanueva 😉

  • popsiclesticks

    I really like the idea of TE Roberts in the late rounds. Is he projected 6th/7th or somewhere like that?

  • Alex Kozora

    No, you’re not understanding me point. We’re not judging this class over what they will be. That isn’t how comparisons work. We’re comparing that group at the Combine to this group at the Combine…and ask anyone, this one is better.

  • popsiclesticks

    He wasn’t? I thought he was considered a top guy for awhile now. I’m a big fan of Ross.

  • popsiclesticks

    I know Dave doesn’t like him but Alex is higher on him than many, I believe. I’ll have to take a look at this guy.

    I want to draft the guy that helps them win the most, and that doesn’t have to be an Edge guy. This offense needs one more guy (which could be Bryant) to realize it’s elite potential.

  • popsiclesticks

    Can’t forget Matt Jones!

  • popsiclesticks

    How do you know? OJ Howard is the best TE prospect I have seen, which goes back a bit under 10 years (and probably 5 since I’ve really been paying attention).

    If people knew Gronk was Gronk, he would have gone earlier.

  • popsiclesticks

    You won’t actually judge how the guy plays? You’d consider a bust of an OLB better than a Pro Bowl TE?

  • popsiclesticks

    Cobi Hamilton is 6’2″ and you don’t just have a guy not run routes in the red zone if he isn’t 6’6″.

    Every team has big guys. Some of them are Matt Speath, some are a little better and are Jesse James, and some are Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. All TEs are over 6’4″ in general, but they aren’t all great red zone options.

  • Conserv_58

    Correction: The Steelers have TE’s, but a good, reliable pass catching TE with the ability to get separation would help tremendously in the red zone. If and when Martavis is reinstated he would be huge in improving their red zone production too.

  • Conserv_58

    That line up would give oppositing DC’s night sweats, indigestion, and a severe case of the runs. When you add in Eli Rogers and possibly, Ayers in the slot … “Turn out the liiiggghhhts, the party’s over…”

  • Darth Blount 47

    YOU KNOW WHAT….

    I went back and studied the TE’s and looked over previous years…. AND YOU KNOW WHAT…

    I have to totally agree with Kozora. This is the best looking class that I’ve seen in YEARS. And maybe the best that I’ve EVER seen!

    I was very lukewarm on dipping my toes in the TE waters this year. But you guys are changing my opinion. The depth from top to bottom is tremendous. If we are moving on from Green, I can see taking a TE at either 30 or 62 FOR SURE.

    And even if we aren’t moving on from Green, I can see us using one of the 3’s or the 4th, on grabbing a TE. If we are keeping Green, I WOULD PERSONALLY wait till at LEAST the 4th to grab a guy, but I now recognize that given the amount of interest, we are probably taking a TE somewhere in this draft. And we can get a true stud in the 1st. Likely a stud in the 2nd. And even after that, a really good specimen in the mid to late rounds.

    It comes down to what in the world are we planning on having and doing with Green. Can we admit it a failed experiment that was costly enough and go ahead and save the 5 mill and replace him after only 1 year?! Might be the smart move….

  • John

    Jerry Dulac has already said Steeelers aren’t drafting TE in round one. He is usually correct. So don’t get too excited. We seem to be good at getting WRs in later rounds and are apparently going to pay Bell big money. Hence sounds like a defensive player in round one.

  • Lambert58

    I don’t know if he will be a #1 or a star, but I believe he will be successful. As we’ve seen many times, speed and athleticism does not always translate into NFL success. But I believe Kupp has the quickness (4.08 in the 20 yd shuttle) to go along with his football IQ, route running and overall feel for the game to be an impact player in the NFL. .

  • Lambert58

    The point is, that drill does not determine if a player will be successful.

  • capehouse

    Oh no doubt but don’t fool yourself with that Rice misinformation. He was an explosive player, and if he was a part of today’s combine structure you can bet he’d run in the 4.4s.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    The Rooneys have drafted 3 Pro Bowl TE’s over the past 30 years. Each time they drafted him in the 1st round. So it’s actually a fairly common pattern for the Steelers.

    Heath Miller (2005) pick 1.30
    Mark Bruener (1995) pick 1.27
    Eric Green (1990) pick 1.21

    Then last year, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert flew to LaDarius Green’s house in Pensacola, FL, on the first day of free agency, and paid $5 million/yr on the spot (without even a thorough medical check), because they wanted an “elite receiving” TE that badly.

    Now that TE is in medical danger of never completing another NFL season. Heath Miller is retired. And the Steelers are interviewing every college TE available in our draft range.

    And you think we won’t draft Evan Engram because Gerry Dulac says so?

    I’m not “predicting” the Steelers will draft Engram at 1.30. But for you to dismiss the possibility outright on the counsel of a beat writer (who has been wrong many times before) is a bit short sighted in my opinion.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    That’s pretty much exactly how I feel. I would prefer a DB or EDGE at 1.30. But if a TE helps run block for Bell and pass block for Ben and draws coverage away from Brown and scores TD’s himself in the red zone and helps keep the opposing team’s offense off the field so our defense can rest… sign me up.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Obviously you judge how the guy plays. I am talking about immediate grading. You can’t truly judge a draft until 3 or 4 years down the road.

    Of course if 3-4 years down the road we have a pro bowl TE but couldn’t win an SB because the D gave up too many points I think we can still talk about it being a failed draft potentially.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    You are stating the obvious.

    My point is that we have potential weapons that the Steelers don’t even use as it is. So adding more weapons that they don’t use properly isn’t necessarily going to help us.