Jones up, not Mallett
Julio Jones' resume at Alabama proved he's the big, tough, physical possession-type receiver. But Jones showed at the NFL combine he's also a speedster, burning up the 40-yard dash with a blazing 4.39 time. And that was before the nation learned Jones did it with a fracture in his foot that will be surgically repaired. Jones' combine showing could be impressive enough to close the gap between him and Georgia's A.J. Green.
But the combine isn't just about the workouts. The drug and medical tests, and personal interviews with teams are just as important, if not more, and there's widespread speculation that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett didn't alleviate the character concerns that have tarnished his reputation. If he doesn't prove he possesses the proper makeup for the sport's most important position, he'll fall down the draft board.
QBs leave questions
Los Angeles Times
At least two of the top quarterback prospects left Indianapolis with some serious repair work to do.
Auburn's Cam Newton was off-target during his workout and his throws reportedly were consistently high. Ryan Mallett of Arkansas is facing questions about his character and possible drug use, leaving some to wonder if this is the next Ryan Leaf.
Among the players whose stock is climbing are Alabama receiver Julio Jones, who ran a scorching 4.39 in the 40; Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who set a combine record by bench-pressing 225 pounds an astounding 49 times; and receiver Edmund Gates from tiny Abilene Christian, who combined a sizzling 40, variously timed between 4.35-4.37 seconds, with a 40-inch vertical jump.
Some pain, plenty of gain
Julio Jones of Alabama made a strong push to be the top wide receiver in the draft because he proved something that no else did at the combine — toughness.
He surprised teams with his speed when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. He dazzled them with his athleticism by posting an absurd broad jump of 11 feet, 3 inches, the best of any player since 2009. All of this by a receiver who is 220 pounds, not 190. But what made Jones stand out above every other player is that he accomplished all of this with a fractured foot. He will have a screw inserted in the foot, which will be followed by eight weeks of rehab.
Coming into the combine, the consensus was Georgia's A.J. Green was the No. 1 wide receiver in this draft class. Now, Jones might have taken that title while placing his name among the great stories at this scouting event.
LB Wilson shows speed
Inside linebackers are supposed to be slower than outside linebackers, but Martez Wilson of Illinois was the fastest linebacker at the combine with a 4.49 40-yard-dash. That makes him a lock to go no later than high in the second round, and could even push the underclassman into the bottom of the first. He clearly is the top inside linebacker prospect after his performance.
Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling had a chance to really shoot up the boards, because at one point he was considered a borderline first-round pick. But after missing time last season with a knee, ankle and hamstring injuries, he pulled a hamstring running a 40 at the combine and had to bow out of the other drills. Dowling's day raised more questions about his durability rather than answer questions about his ability.