Interviews are important, and measurements are intriguing, but NFL teams like the Atlanta Falcons, when scouting right and winning, make money on the field.
NFL Scouting Combine
Cincinnati Quarterback Desmond Ridder
Virginia Tight End Jelani Woods
Action over talking. That's what the drills at the NFL Scouting Combine are all about.
Thursday night primetime at the combine featured the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends showing NFL teams what they can do.
Here are five winners from the first batch of drills, with more to come all weekend long.
QUARTERBACK DESMOND RIDDER (CINCINNATI)
If you're looking for a prospect who could flash athletic ability, traditional quarterback traits, and brings big stage experience, Desmond Ridder was the best chance at getting all three.
And he didn't let the opportunity to show it all pass him by.
Running a 40-yard dash time faster than several wide receivers, Ridder confirmed he was the fastest quarterback in the group, and it wasn't even close.
His throws looked the part of an NFL quarterback, and word on the streets is, he killed the interviews.
Did he just enter the Top 3 quarterback conversation this April? He certainly did his best to disrupt the status quo, and put some pressure on guys like Matt Corral who get just one chance at impressing NFL decision-makers.
TIGHT END JELANI WOODS (VIRGINIA)
This may be the best class of tight ends to enter the NFL than we've seen in a long while.
While there isn't the star at the top of the group like the Falcons' Kyle Pitts from 2021, there are plenty of options who figure to be available on Day 2 or later who look like they could significantly impact an NFL roster.
Jelani Woods will enter the conversation and undoubtedly climb some boards after testing really well on Thursday.
Running the second-best 40-yard dash time behind Maryland's Chig Okonkwo combined with a class-leading 24 reps on the bench press will have scouts running back to the film to see if that talent reflects on tape.
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QUARTERBACK KENNY PICKETT (PITTSBURGH)
You may not have heard, but Kenny Pickett has small hands. Smaller than any active quarterback in the NFL, in fact.
But on Thursday, he still found a way to throw the football, and do it with touch, zip, and accuracy.
It's hard to be too big a winner when you're already considered the top quarterback in most circles, but by not giving us watercooler conversations about how bad his throws looked on Thursday, Pickett has all but secured himself at or near the top of any evaluators quarterback list.
WIDE RECEIVER JAHAN DOTSON (PENN STATE)
I was incredibly disappointed when I learned Dotson wouldn't be attending the 2022 Reese's Senior Bowl, which only made seeing his combine workout all the more important.
What the Penn State receiver did was deliver on all expectations.
He showed speed, running a 4.43 40-yard dash - which actually seems slow in this group - and ran his routes cleanly, making catches with what appeared to be minimal effort.
Pittsburgh Quarterback Kenny Pickett
Penn State Wide Receiver Jahan Dotson
Baylor Wide Receiver Tyquan Thornton
THE NFL PASSING GAME
Deep ball passing is becoming a bigger part of the game every season, and with nine wide receivers running sub-4.4 40-yard dashes, the NFL's ability to stretch the field is going to survive well into the later part of this decade at a minimum.
Baylor's Tyquan Thornton led the group with a 4.28 and was the only receiver to run below 4.3.
Meanwhile, Memphis' Calvin Austin III ran expectedly fast clocking in at 4.32, SMU's Danny Gray turned in a 4.33, and Ohio State boasted two in the group with Garrett Wilson running a 4.38 while Chris Olave turned in a 4.39.
Any NFL offense that's slow in 2022 will only have themselves to blame. All they need is a quarterback who can get the ball out to them.
Fast receivers and QB help? Well worth the Falcons' "prime time.''