In part two of our four part preview of the NFL scouting combine, we take a look at the positions that will take center stage on Sunday at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Sunday is skill day, with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers getting a close look from coaches and scouts from across the league.
Who should you be following on the NFL network? We have identified a trio of players at each of the three positions. These aren't the best prospects as the Redskins don't have a first round pick. They aren't necessarily second round material either, as the team will seek help at other positions. Nevertheless, these are players that could, under the right circumstances eventually contribute on the 53 man roster.
Quarterback- If Robert Griffin III were not coming off a major injury, we might not even need to evaluate this position. When the Redskins traded four elite draft picks for the chance to draft RGIII, I thought it was too much. Most have evaulated the deal based on RGIII's obvious ability and considered it worthwhile. But what about his durability? How many times can he have his knee rebuilt? If mobiility becomes a lesser factor in his game, how does that impact his effectiveness? Kirk Cousins appears to be a capable backup, but there will be much more pressure if he is forced to carry the team if Griffin is unable to go until later in the season. Do the 'Skins have to keep Rex Grossman around now, under the circumstances? I believe the team must draft a quarterback late in the draft, if for nothing other than insurance.
Matt Scott, Arizona- 6'3" 200 Scott took a redshirt prior to his senior season so he could take over after Nick Foles moved on to the NFL. Scott ran Rich Rodriquez' wildcat offense to perfection last season. Scott completed more than 60% of his passes and added more than 500 yards rushing. Scott can throw the deep ball and has the running ability that is value added in the Skins new scheme. Scott tends to force throws at time and is in need of some work on technique.
Collin Klein, Kansas State- 6'5" 230- Klein is a personal favorite of mine, due in large part to his versatility. Some project him as a H-Back, others somewhere in the back seven on defense. If not for a bad game late in the season, Klein probably would have won the Heisman Trophy and played in the National Championship game. On the season, the first team All-Big 12 selection threw for 16 touchdowns and rushed for 23 more. Klein is powerul, displays leadership and has a high football IQ. Klein does have an unusual delivery and needs alot of work on footwork.
MarQueis Gray, Minnesota- 6'4" 240 Much like Klein, Gray is projected at a number of different positions, including wildcat quarterback. Gray rushed for nearly 1000 yards last season, but the passing porting of his game is certainly a work in progress. Gray spent his first two seasons at Minnesota as a wide receiver, but may have grown out of that position into more of a tight end. On the positive side, Gray has the raw ability, is very athletic and has good arm strength. If an NFL team brings him in as a quarterback, he will certainly be a work in progress. Project.
Running Back- Alfred Morris may have been the biggest surprise in the NFL last season. Morris put up huge numbers and has the kind of attitude that coaches and fans alike love. Mike Shanahan almost always takes a running back, no matter the depth at the position and figures to grab one at some point. Will Roy Helu Jr. ever be healthy again? The 'Skins could really use a speed option in their attack, something that was filled by wide receivers last season. Evan Royster is a capable reserve, but more of a backup to Morris, than a change of pace back.
Kenjon Barner, Oregon- 5'11" 195 Barner probably will require a draft pick higher than the Redskins are willing to spend at the poisition in April. Barner rushed for nearly 1800 yards last season and added 21 touchdowns. Barner is a threat to go the distance on every play and has a particularly great feel on stretch plays. Barner has great vision and is also a weapon out of the backfield. Barner tends to run upright and at times lacks balance. Some have concerns about his ball security as well.
D.J. Harper, Boise State- 5'9" 205 The success of rookie Doug Martin certainly doesn't hurt Harper's stock. Harper served as Martin's backup until his senior season last year. Harper made the most of his chance, rushing for more than 1100 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. Speed, speed and more speed. Harper is not afraid of lowering his shoulder and was a capable receiver in a limited role. Harper has injury concerns, having torn his left ACL twice. Probably not an every down back which is OK in how the 'Skins would use him, but gets overpowed in pass protection.
Chris Thompson, Florida State- 5'8' 190 A serious back injury nearly ended Thompson's career in 2011. Thompson showed dedication in rehab and returned with his sprinter speed last Fall. Florida State has a stable of backs, but Thompson excelled in his role, culminating with an MVP performance in the Chick-fil-A bowl win over South Carolina. Thompson would certainly be a situation back at the next level, with change of pace breakaway speed and reliable hands. Chris tends to juke too much in space and as you might expect, doesn't break many tackles due to his smaller stature.
Wide Receiver- Do the Redskins need to address wide receiver? It's likely something will be done to reduce Santana Moss' salary if he is brought back. Pierre Garcon turned out to be one of the best free agent acquisitions the team has made in recent memory and they were very hard to beat when he was healthy. The money spent on Josh Morgan could have been better alllocated given the players already on the roster. Brandon Banks is a free agent, hard to imagine him returning. Leonard Hankerson needs to take the next step in his progression and Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe should get a long look in camp. Robinson has a nice upside and Briscoe remains a sleeper than could help take the passing game to another level.
Denard Robinson, Michigan- 5'11" 195 Another potential emergency quarterback disquised as a receiver. Robinson struggled in the transition to pass catcher in the post season. We know he can run and is an underrated passer. During his senior season, was used in a multi purpose role and rushed for nearly 1300 yards. "Shoelace" excels in the read option which obviously could be of use in Ashburn. Will he be an elite kick returner? Is he a man without a position? With the success of Russell Wilson its hard to discount him due to his heighth, but inability to stay healthy would be a concern.
Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech- 6'4" 230 Late developing big play threat had a solid senior season for the Hokies. Davis with nearly 1000 yards and five touchdowns as a senior in Blacksburg. Davis could be a diamond in the rough, especially with prototype size and speed for an NFL wide receiver. Was a running quarterback in high school and upon arrival at Tech and it shows in his ability to advance the ball after the catch. Is still developing and may be a few years away. Tends to catch the ball with his body and has not shown an inclination to block.
Marlon Brown, Georgia- 6'5" 220 Brown arrived in Athens as one of the most hotly recruited high school receivers in the nation. Brown found playing time every season for the Bulldogs, but was often plagued by injury. Brown appeard headed for a solid senior season with 500 yards and four touchdowns, but it ended prematurely with a torn ACL. Marlon is not only a big target, but is quick off the line of scrimmage and is a true vertical threat. Is good after the catch and a willing blocker in the running game. Injuries are a concern and he has also had difficulty catching in traffic.
Up next, we will take a look at the defensive lineman and linebackers.