Robert Griffin III blew teams away with what’s believed to be the fastest 40-yard dash time recorded by a quarterback since Michael Vick at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Griffin, who has been projected to be the No. 2 overall pick, was unofficially clocked with a two-run average of 4.38 seconds. His official time later was adjusted to 4.41 seconds — still the best of any quarterback this year, The Associated Press reported. Andrew Luck, projected to be the top overall pick, unofficially ran a 4.59, the same time Cam Newton posted in 2011, but the time was later adjusted to an official 4.69, fourth among quarterbacks.
Griffin’s ability to be a dual-threat quarterback led Baylor to a 10-win season en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.
“When you talk about the Michael Vicks or the Cam Newtons or the athletic quarterbacks, this is the best throwing athlete I’ve seen come out in a while,” former FOX Sports analyst Brian Billick said on Saturday.
In college, Griffin showed off his world-class speed as a hurdler by participating in the US Olympic Trials.
— Ross Jones
Claiborne’s right choice
The draft’s top cornerback said he never intended to play defense — until he got to college and another player convinced him.
LSU’s Morris Claiborne said he was recruited to play receiver, but was convinced to switch to corner by Patrick Peterson, who had a standout rookie season in Arizona. Claiborne now figures to follow Peterson to the NFL as a top pick — perhaps as high as fourth to Cleveland (if the Browns do not trade up for Robert Griffin III), but certainly no lower than 10th. If he were still available at 10, Claiborne would certainly be the subject of a possible trade up by Cincinnati, which would love to add him to its defense.
Claiborne said it took a month to grow accustomed to corner, but evidently once he did things came together in a hurry. He, like Peterson, won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. He said he’s not the most physical corner, that he’s more a technician who mirrors people.
Peterson’s advice to Claiborne for the Combine was simple.
"He said, ‘Go up there and take over,’" Claiborne said.
— Pat McManamon
Oregon’s James all about endurance
Oregon running back LaMichael James opted out of his senior season in Eugene to make a splash in the NFL. He did just that on Sunday, running a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash.
James rushed for 5,000 yards and 53 touchdowns in his three-year career and hopes to have an instant impact at the next level.
“I feel like I can do anything,” James said. “I’ll be an all-around back. You don’t have to take me out on third down.”
Despite clocking a fast time in the 40, James didn’t put too much weight into the speed test.
“A lot of people can go out and run a 4.3 on the first play of the game, but can you do it in the fourth quarter,” James said. “That’s important for me."
— Ross Jones
Lucky fans get first-hand Combine look
Clustered in a group among the NFL owners, general managers, coaches and scouts in the Lucas Oil Stadium seats at Sunday’s combine workouts was a lucky group of 250 fans selected by the league to get a first-hand look at the quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs running 40s and doing drills on the field.
How much for this coveted golden ticket to watch the skill players in person? Nada. It’s gratis. “We want this to be an experience, sort of an ‘NFL insider the combine look,’’’ said Tracy Perlman, the NFL’s vice present of entertainment marketing and promotions. “Because the NFL wanted to give the avid fans an opportunity to experience something special. And it was at no cost to them.”
How did the lucky 250 get picked? A marketing company that specializes in casting special-event spectators, including Sunday’s Oscar Awards red carpet stroll, worked with the NFL and sent out a questionnaire about 10 days ago to 6,000 NFL fans, many of them Colts’ season ticket holders, asking them to write an essay explaining why they wanted to be here. The most enthusiastic applicants — folks who actually hold combine parties, for example — were selected. Then each of the 250 selected guests was put through a thorough security screening to ensure everyone’s safety inside the stadium.
Among the perks: Each guest wears a radio headset to listen to running commentary from Hall of Fame running back and NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk, who reminded them to remain silent during the 40-yard dashes. Everyone also received complimentary Under Armour gear and a chance to chat up the workouts with Derrick Brooks and Fred Taylor, both of whom were seated in the stands with the fortunate 250.
“I think that this may expand, but we still want this to be an ‘inside’ experience that isn’t offered to everyone,” Perlman said. So, start working on those application essays for the 2013 Combine.
— Nancy Gay
Drug arrests, drama questions for Jenkins
Janoris Jenkins from tiny University of North Alabama is one of the most talented defensive backs in this year’s NFL Draft. You’d also be hard-pressed to find a prospective rookie carrying more negative cargo into his NFL Combine team interviews than this premier cornerback.
At 23, he has four children, three boys and a girl ages 3, 2, 1 and three months. He also has a blemished personal history that includes two drug-related arrests in a three-month span in 2011 and a June 2009 arrest for fighting outside a Gainesville, Fla., bar. Police said Jenkins told them another man was making a grab for his gold chain and he fought back.
The second drug arrest got Jenkins bounced by Florida coach Will Muschamp from the football program, where the cornerback had been a three-year starter and a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection.
Jenkins retreated to Division II North Alabama rather than enter the NFL supplemental draft pool, and he vowed Sunday in his combine media session that his love affair with marijuana and the bad influences that steered him wrong as a younger man are truly behind him. Teams are certainly asking him all about this in their individual interrogations. Read the full story here.
— Nancy Gay
Moore misses when it matters
Kellen Moore’s bright moment of the NFL Scouting Combine could’ve been when he took the podium and told the media what he measured in at.
“I got to six-foot today,” said Moore with a wide smile on his face. “Yeah, let everyone know that.”
Moore answered some questions about his height this week, but was challenged when it mattered most: on the field. Moore, NCAA’s all-time winningest quarterback, struggled as he threw in front of team officials and scouts on Sunday. The left-handed QB overthrew several receivers on the fade and post corner routes. Moore also had trouble connecting with receivers on intermediate routes.
He’s going to have to win teams over in the interview process, especially being a coach’s son. “I think those experiences have certainly benefited me, allowed me to be much more prepared going into high school, college and hopefully now the NFL,” he said.
— Ross Jones
Weeden impresses, defends age issue
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden showed off his next-level arm in a 60-minute workout at Lucas Oil Stadium. Weeden, 28, completed several passes and did a nice job of leading his wide receivers after the catch.
Although he overthrew a few balls, his accuracy was the most consistent in the group he was with. This week, Weeden was asked about his “only red flag,” which is his age entering the NFL draft.
“It’s a small issue. I’m not worried about it,” Weeden said. “I don’t think a lot of teams are worried about it.”
Weeden is in the running for the third quarterback off the board in April’s draft. Weeden threw for more than 9,000 yards the last two seasons in Stillwater and finished his career with a win against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
— Ross Jones
Waiting game for Georgia’s Boykin
Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin will wait to work out on his pro day March 5 in Athens.
Boykin, who suffered a leg injury in the Senior Bowl, has ditched the crutches and regained his strength.
Among other things, Boykin discussed his versatility. Boykin was dangerous as a punt returner and even scored a touchdown on offense in the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.
— Ross Jones
Blackmon opts out of dash
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon’s “tender” hamstring kept him out of the 40-yard dash, but he did participate in the gauntlet drill.
Blackmon was thrown passes in rapid-fire succession while running from sideline to sideline. “I might do the gauntlet, maybe a few short routes. But I’m not going to open it up,” Blackmon had said on Friday.
It was reported that Blackmon would sit out all drills in Indianapolis to rest for his March 9 pro day, but he was able to go.
Blackmon, who has been projected as the first wide receiver off the board in April’s draft, is the second player to win back-to-back Biletnikoff awards, which are given to the best receiver in the nation.
— Ross Jones
No shadows for Georgia Tech’s Hill
Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill caught a lot of team’s eyes, running a 4.30 in the 40-yard dash.
Hill, who only had 28 receptions last season, has a limited amount of tape because of the triple-option attack Paul Johnson runs at Georgia Tech.
Hill measured in at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds earlier this week in Indianapolis and has created a buzz about the combination of his size and speed.
Several teams compare Hill to Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who was selected in the first round in the 2010 NFL draft, also out of Georgia Tech.
“Both of us are big. I’m a little bit taller. I feel like I’m a little bit faster, too,” Hill said of his former teammate. “I’m trying to make my own name, not trying to be Demaryius.”