Four of Fantastic Five QBs show their class at NFL combine

As Darnold sits out, ‘freak show’ Allen shines, Rosen ‘most impressive’

INDIANAPOLIS – There’s the Fantastic Five, then there’s everybody else in this year’s NFL quarterback draft class.

Four of the five threw on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, in front of hundreds of NFL coaches, executives and scouts as the NFL Scouting Combine hit its annual crescendo.

The four who threw? UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. USC’s Sam Darnold, seen by many as the best of the bunch, decided at midweek not to throw.

Eighteen of the 19 quarterbacks invited to the combine threw to invited wide receivers, in two waves. Each passer threw short, medium and long; to the left and right; from three-, five- and seven-step drops; and on curls, ins, outs, fly patterns and double-move post-corners.

Warts were exposed, and class emerged.

Two of the top talent evaluators not employed by an NFL team shared their thoughts with Postmedia afterward: NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell and NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang. Later, NFL Network’s chief draft analyst Mike Mayock shared his views with a few dozen reporters.

Nothing that happened Saturday shocked anybody. If anything, it all reaffirmed what they’d seen on tape. Namely, really promising prospects.

“I call them the Fantastic Five,” Rang said, “because I think those five guys will all be drafted in the first round, and that’s only happened a couple of times in history.

“That’s not to say this class has multiple Hall of Famers or anything, but what’s exciting to me is that the depth up top is really good.”

Let’s start with Allen and the cannon attached to his right shoulder. How powerful is it? One of his three, effortless-looking long-bomb throws on Saturday travelled 71 yards from the line of scrimmage.

“He’s a freak show,” Cosell said. “Josh Allen speaks to the difference between arm strength and arm talent. Those are two different things. Arm strength is the ability to throw the ball with power and velocity, and really drive the football. He may be as good anybody I’ve ever seen at that.

“But arm talent is ability to make nuanced throws: pace, touch, timing, rhythm. Those kind of throws are the throws that separate great quarterbacks – throws that the Tom Bradys and Drew Breeses make. That’s where Josh Allen needs work.”

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Mayock said Allen simply put on a show:

“I knew he would. He’s got as live an arm as anybody I’ve seen since JaMarcus Russell. All I’m talking about is arm talent – his arm talent is the best I’ve seen since JaMarcus Russell (in 2007). It’s off the charts, and I thought he showed off a little bit today … which I thought was good.”

A problem of Allen’s is he throws much better to his right than to his left, Rang said. SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Jim Miller has noticed the same flaw.

Rang said, overall, Rosen was “the most impressive” quarterback of the bunch.

“Baker Mayfield, I thought he threw the ball well, but not exceptionally well,” Rang said. “Josh Rosen was far and away the best of the Session 2 quarterbacks. Just the accuracy, the footwork, the weight transfer. Everything just looks so smooth. He had three passes in a row on the deep balls that were just perfect. I mean, just as gorgeous as you could get.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Indianapolis.

“Rosen was 1A and Mayfield 1B for most of the (Session 2) workout. But when they started throwing deep balls — straight vertical routes — whereas Rosen had great ones, Mayfield threw three in a row where the receivers kind of stopped and waited for the ball to arrive.”

Said Cosell of Rosen: “He’s the most refined quarterback right now, when it comes to repetitive mechanics – his drop, his set, his delivery. He’s a timing/rhythm player by nature. It’s probably in his DNA. That usually translates to the NFL. The concerns for Rosen would be movement. I don’t mean running out of the pocket, I mean in-pocket mobility. He takes a lot of shots. I don’t want to say that that’s a concern he won’t make it. But he gets hit a lot, and at a certain level you can’t keep getting hit.”

Jackson, meantime, struggled with accuracy. I was among a dozen or so reporters allowed to watch the first group of QBs, and something I noticed in the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner’s delivery — almost all arm, no body behind it — was confirmed by Cosell and Rang.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 03: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson throws during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“It’s because he throws from a very narrow base,” Cosell said. “His feet are too close together so he can’t get any torque and any weight transfer in this throws, so he’s a snap-arm thrower. And he does not have a big arm because of it … He’s just flicking it. So he needs work on that. I’ve always been a believer in that you can change the lower body. He needs work on his lower body.”

Yet Rang said Jackson can generate high-end velocity at times with just a flick of his wrist.

“To me that’s one of the biggest reasons for his comparison to Michael Vick,” Rang said. “I mean, 50 yards and his ball just kept sailing.”

Darnold’s decision to sit out surely didn’t sit well with a lot of NFL-employed observers in the stands and luxury boxes.

“I was a little disappointed,” Mayock said, for his part. “I think you get a chance to show off a little bit, and this is all about competition. I wonder in his heart of hearts if he missed competing today, because the other guys ripped it pretty good.”

USC quarterback Sam Darnold talks with Ken Zampese of the Cleveland Browns during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bills owner at stadium when quarterbacks threw

INDIANAPOLIS – Owners seldom watch prospects perform on the field at the NFL Scouting Combine.

One apparently did on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Shortly after the second and final group of quarterbacks threw early Saturday afternoon, Buffalo Bills co-owner Terry Pegula exited the underground tunnel that leads from the stadium into the Indiana Convention Center, where the majority of combine activity takes place.

It’s not a stretch to presume that Pegula accompanied Bills GM Brandon Beane, head coach Sean McDermott and some of their staffs in watching this year’s crop of draft-class quarterbacks — including UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — perform on the stadium field.

After he and wife Kim bought the Bills in 2014, Pegula occasionally has accompanied his talent evaluators to university pro days, to watch high-profile prospects work out.

TRICKY QUESTIONS: Coaches and scouts on some teams love to throw curveball questions at prospects here, during their maximum 15-minute official interviews. University of Miami receiver Braxton Berrios was asked Saturday about the strangest questions he’d received so far. “ ‘What is a Bitcoin,’ ” he said, “and, ‘What is ISIS?’ ”

CRACKING COMBO: The consensus top edge rusher in this year’s draft, North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, didn’t exactly set the bar low for himself. Asked who he models his game after, Chubb cited only the two top pass-rushing outside linebackers in the NFL:

“I try to take (Oakland’s) Khalil Mack and (Denver’s) Von Miller at put them into one person,” he said. “Khalil Mack is a more powerful guy, probably the best long-armed guy in the game right now. Von Miller’s the speed/finesse guy. And I try to just put both those together – have some power moves, have some speed moves … I think I do both of those pretty well. But there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

One would hope so.

DON’T TAG ME!: Miami WR Jarvis Landry took to Twitter to threaten sitting out the entire 2018 season should the Dolphins slap a franchise tag on him by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. EST deadline. The Dolphins have given Landry permission to seek a trade partner.

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@JohnKryk

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies

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