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Scout's Notebook: Standouts & Surprises From The Early NFL Combine Workouts

INDIANAPOLIS – As we get into Saturday's workouts, which will include the quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers, I wanted to share some of my notes from Friday.

We got a good look at the offensive linemen and the running backs on Friday afternoon, and we had a chance to meet with some of these receivers. Before we move on to the next step of the NFL Combine, I wanted to jot down some of my notes from the early going of this process.

  • It was a strange day for the scouts while sitting at Lucas Oil Stadium watching the offensive line and running back work outs. There were players like UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller, TCU offensive tackle Joe Noteboom and Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage having incredible workouts but in the back of their minds, they were wondering why the tape wasn't as good. There is nothing worse than that thought of studying a player, watching him work out and then wondering if you missed something on him. From my experience, I have always trusted the tape and that initial evaluation over what I observed at the Combine. Playing the game to me was always more important to me than how they shuffled through bags.
  • It was easy to pile on Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown after the day he had. There was no question that his numbers were poor, but if you listened to our Draft Shows leading up to the Combine you would have had an idea that this might happen. Brown is a massive man, and his athletic skill is much better in the game than it is running through drills. The real key for Brown going forward is that he will have another chance in the coming weeks to improve on his times. Teams will travel to Norman and work him out. What Brown needs to focus on is dropping some weight to help his movement skills and spending a little more time working on better execution of the drills. Brown falls into that category for me of better tape than work out guy but he still can help himself with improved numbers at his pro day.

  • I wish Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson would have attempted a 40-yard dash during his on the field work. Johnson was impressive during his position drills and outstanding in his jumps. Johnson checked in with a 40'' vertical and 10'6" broad jump, which caught the attention of those observing. Johnson is in that mix of running backs positioning themselves as possible first round players or guys selected early on Day 2 of the draft.
  • What we learned on Friday in visiting with the wide receivers is that the Dallas Cowboys are hunting some talent. Guys like Alabama's Calvin Ridley, Maryland's D.J. Moore and Clemson's Deon Cain had formal visits lined up with the club. Others, like Texas A&M's Christian Kirk and LSU's D.J. Chark, were just meeting on the informal side. You can read into this a couple of different ways. Is the talent at the position just that good or are they making some plans to adjust their current group? Ridley and Moore are the top two receivers on my board so if either were available at their spot at 19, I wouldn't have an issue adding either to the roster.


  • Count me as one of those that is excited to see Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson throw the ball during his workout. We've been told that Jackson will not run, but that's totally fine with me. Coaches and scouts want to see him throw, so as he said -- that's what I am going to do. Scout's love to see a guy compete at the Combine. It's not the most ideal setting for a quarterback with receivers you hardly know, but this is the opportunity to make the best of it. Keep an eye on who Jackson is throwing to. They go in alphabetical order at receiver so Jackson will not get to choose his guys. If he's throwing to some quality route runners and catchers and that get into a little rhythm it can make for an impressive show.
  • A little nugget I learned from Dane Brugler during the Draft Show was a condition that South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst had. While playing professional baseball, Hurst developed a case of the "Yips" in that he no longer had the confidence in throwing the ball. The condition was so bad that he had to get treatment for it by seeing various specialist in order to see if they could cure it. Hurst was unable to overcome the problem and was forced to exit the game. Hurst is my top-rated tight end in a group that includes South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert and Oklahoma's Mark Andrews. Despite knowing that little bit of information, I am still sticking with him in hope that something doesn't happen to him when it comes to catching the football but others I have visited with about it are not so sure.
  • It was great to see Cowboys Personnel Executive, Will McClay receive a contract extension. I have been fortunate to have known McClay for a long time. He followed me at Jacksonville in the late 1990's and then later with the Cowboys. He's a guy that not only has a nice eye for talent but he really understands the dynamic of how to organize people. His job is not easy but he has the respect of all those involved. McClay doesn't seek the credit but he deserves a great deal of it for how he's has put this department together and the direction in which it is going.
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