Day 2 combine risers/sliders: WR White shows he's top-10 worthy
INDIANAPOLIS — Bid farewell to any lingering, misguided notions that West Virginia WR Kevin White does not belong in the top-10 conversation. The ex-Mountaineer made everyone sit up and take notice with times of 4.35 and 4.36 seconds, respectively, on his two 40-yard dash tries. The 4.35 mark was just two-hundreths of a second off the time posted by Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett, who was considered a challenger for Chris Johnson's all-time record in the 40 (4.24).
"A lot of teams, a lot of people don't think I have the top-end speed," White said at his media session this week. "I don't know why they think that, but it's important to run fast just to show that I do have that type of speed."
Consider it done.
Some other prospects of note from Saturday:
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State: He's big, physical and constantly hauls down contested catches, so NFL teams may have been willing to overlook a lack of speed from Strong. "He's not going to run fast, but it won't matter because any team who drafts him is going to have a plan for him," an unnamed NFC West scout told NFL.com.
Except Strong did turn on the jets during Saturday's workouts, clocking in with an (unofficial) 4.44-second time in the 40 and a 1.57-second 10-yard split. The former number is almost in line with the likes of Devin Smith (4.42) and Sammie Coates (4.43), two players coveted as deep threats.
"That’s everybody’s big question," Strong said of his speed earlier in the week. "Everybody wants to know what I’m going to run. I can’t wait to get out there."
Strong admitted that he still needs to polish up his game, namely when it comes to getting out of his breaks. But with the 6'2", 217-pound receiving topping off his build with legit speed, the odds of him landing in Round 1 rose.
J.J. Nelson, WR, UAB: Nelson carries the weight of the shut-down UAB football program on his slight 5'10" frame. Not since Aaron Lockett (uncle to '15 draft hopeful Tyler Lockett) weighed in at 155 pounds at the 2002 combine has a prospect been as small as the 156-pound Nelson.
If teams can get past the size issues, though, Nelson might be capable of transitioning his game to the pros. He posted the fastest 40 time for wide receivers on Saturday, at an unofficial 4.29 seconds, then followed that up by nailing pass-catching drills.
JJ Nelson is still perfect today. His hands are LEGIT— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) February 21, 2015
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: All things considered, Winston, Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley all showed well in various areas. Mariota confirmed his athleticism with a 4.52-second 40, the fastest of the QBs, a 36-inch vertical and 10-1 broad jump. Hundley's quickness was on display, too, in the form of a 3.93 short-shuttle — the fastest number recorded by a QB in that event in the past nine years. Both Mariota and Hundley also held their own in passing drills.
However, it was Winston who really stood out throwing the ball. Not that a potential (probable?) No. 1 overall pick needs much of a boost, but ...
"These are NFL throws now," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said as Winston ran off several consecutive completions. While Winston was predictably slow in the 40 (4.97 and 4.99 unofficial times), he was polished in his drop-backs.
That's not to say that Mariota was subpar with the ball in his hands Saturday — far from it. But for those who believe Winston is the more pro-ready of the two QBs, the combine workout will serve as further evidence.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State: Impressive showing in the 40-yard dash from the 1,500-yard back. Langford broke off a 4.43 40 time and repeated in his second round, thus making him the fastest back on Saturday. He may need to carve out a role as a passing-down back, so flashing breakaway speed will help.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford: Montgomery thrived on his speed in college, both as a receiver and returner. So his (unofficial) 4.55 and 4.58 40 times will be a knock against a raw playmaker. Worse yet, Montgomery also checked just shy of 6'0" tall, well off the 6'2" at which Stanford had him listed.
Exiting the combine smaller and slower than anticipated is a disappointing outcome, even though Montgomery bounced back by cruising through the receiver's gauntlet drill.
The overall QB class: Not sure this quite qualifies as "sliding" given how most people already viewed this crop of quarterbacks. Save, though, for a glimmer of light here and there — Bryce Petty's deep ball, Brandon Bridge's motion, Jerry Lovelocke's arm strength — it was a rather unmemorable display. Any front office waiting for another prospect to emerge behind Winston, Mariota and, to a lesser extent, Hundley are still in a holding pattern.
Colorado State's Garrett Grayson may be able to carry that baton, but he did not work out because of a hamstring injury. A decent Senior Bowl had pushed Grayson up some boards.
"I’m extremely bummed," said Grayson of not being able to compete Saturday. "This is something as a kid, if you have an NFL dream, you always want to come here and perform well at the combine, something you always hear about when you’re little."
Grayson is expected to throw at Colorado State's pro day on March 11.