2015 NFL Scouting Combine: Day 2 Notes


Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Kevin White runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Today was an exciting day for Combine observers, especially those following the two quarterbacks at the top of this Draft Class. For Raider fans, however, today held some significance as well. The incredibly deep, talented wide receiver group had their workout today, and lots of very fast men ran 40 times. Here are five things I learned from following today’s action in Indianapolis.

1. Kevin White is the Best Receiver in this Draft

Stellar West Virginia wideout Kevin White established himself as the top player at his position in this class, especially for the Raiders. Raider GM Reggie McKenzie clearly loves big, tall wideouts: he brought in Rod Streater, Brice Butler, Andre Holmes, Juron Criner. He’d already talked to 6’3″ Louisville wideout Devante Parker in Indianapolis. And while many experts had 6’1″ Amari Cooper slotted in for the Raiders at #4, the evidence now points more strongly toward Kevin White.

White, who caught 109 passes for over 1,400 yards and 10 TD’s last year, is the Reggie McKenzie wide receiver prototype at 6’3″ and 215. He showed great arm strength Friday by benching 225 pounds 23 times, numbers on par with linebackers and even some offensive and defensive linemen. On Saturday, he stunned observers with a stellar performance in the 40-yard dash: 4.35 seconds, faster even than Amari Cooper.

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  • White performed well in all the other measurable drills, including a solid 123″ broad jump and 36.5″ vertical. He also did well in the positional workouts, only dropping one pass throughout the session and showing crisp, fluid movements and elite ball skills to go with his unparalleled body control.

    After his big day at the Combine, Kevin White has likely shot to the top of Reggie McKenzie’s board at the wide receiver position – as well as a number of other teams. While the Raiders may not necessarily choose a wideout at 4th overall and have to settle for another player, I wouldn’t be shocked to see McKenzie use that pick on White.

    2. The Raiders Have Plenty of Options at Wideout

    And while Kevin White is clearly the cream of this wide receiver crop, there are a number of other very strong options emerging that fit the profile that Reggie McKenzie favors at the position. Seven wide receivers at the combine measured 6’3″ or taller, many of them among the biggest names coming in, and most of them demonstrating great measurables and showing great positional skills on the field.

    DeVante Parker, who caught 156 passes for nearly 2,800 yards and 33 TD’s over the course of his career, was though to be a player who may not have the top-end speed to beat elite corners on deep routes. Instead, he showed up and ran a 4.45 40 and showed off his stellar ball skills in the drills, solidifying his status as probably the third-best receiver in the class. He may be available near the bottom of round one, should the Raiders trade back.

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  • Former Missouri wideout Dorial Green-Beckham, a 6’5″ 237 pound monster, ran an impressive 4.49 second 40-yard dash, and flashed his smooth movement skills and soft hands in the individual drills as well. He has had a number of off-field issues that ruined his college career, but his rare combination of size, speed and ability are too good to pass up on. He may fall as far as the 2nd round, perhaps even to the top of the 3rd, where he would be an absolute steal for McKenzie and the Raiders.

    Of course McKenzie may decide to look at a wideout under 6’3″, and there are plenty of good options here too. Obviously Amari Cooper is still going to be a very high first round pick, but speedsters like Miami’s Philip Dorsett or workout king Chris Conley out of Georgia (who turned in great performances in the bench, vertical and broad jump to go with his 4.35 second 40-yard dash), will be available deep into the draft, and still have very good size as well. Physical jump-ball king Jaelen Strong out of Arizona State was also impressive today, and would add a physicality and size to the position with his 6’2″, 217 pound frame.

    While Kevin White and Amari Cooper both have the potential to be transcendent players and will probably both be on the board at #4 overall, this draft has easily a half dozen other players who have the potential to be #1 wide receivers for the Raiders or any number of other NFL franchises. With other holes on the roster, McKenzie may opt to wait until round 2 to find a new target for Derek Carr.

    3. Nick Marshall Might be a Nice Pickup

    Yesterday Nick Marshall told the media that he’d been interviewed by the Raiders, who were interested in making him both a cornerback and an emergency 3rd-string quarterback. Today, Nick Marshall, the Auburn quarterback who worked in as a corner at the Senior Bowl, worked out with the quarterbacks to very little fanfare as the media focused on Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

    Marshall, at 6’1″ and 207 pounds, doesn’t have ideal size for the quarterback position, nor does he have the body of work as a passing quarterback at Auburn, nor the arm talent. He is, however, big for a cornerback, and played the position at the University of Georgia in 2011. He showed some ability at the Senior Bowl, however, despite being very raw, and has shown his willingness to play the position for an NFL team, a major step for a former quarterback.

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  • Marshall ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash among quarterbacks today, with a 4.54 second official time. While not elite speed for a corner, it is certainly on par with a number of very good NFL corners, including Antonio Cromartie and Richard Sherman. He also performed well in the individual workout, showing at least the bare minimum of arm talent to be a 3rd-string guy at the next level. Marshall will work out with the defensive backs in Indianapolis tomorrow, and will be worth watching. He may be a really nice get in the later rounds to fill two roster spots and contribute on special teams.

    4. Arik Armstead’s Upper-Body Strength is Disappointing

    Defensive linemen did their measurements and performed in the bench press today, a key drill for that position group, who must use their arms to push off of opposing blockers and create separation. While obviously bench pressing doesn’t make you a good defensive lineman, showing up poorly in this event can undo a player’s draft stock. Last year, when Michael Sam performed poorly in the bench, he went from a projected 4th or 5th rounder to one of the last picks in the draft.

    Arik Armstead, a 6’7″, 292 pound monster of a man out of Oregon, was thought to be an interesting prospect for many teams simply due to his sheer size and perceived physical strength. Unfortunately, perception did not meet reality in his bench press: he managed a mere 24 reps. While 24 reps is dramatically better than you or I can do of 225 pounds in the bench press, it’s pretty low for a 292 pound defensive lineman, especially one who shows up on tape as very raw in his skills development.

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    Last week I compared Arik Armstead to the Bengals’ Margus Hunt, another giant with incredible physical ability but a very raw skill set. That comparison was premature. Hunt climbed draft boards to become a 2nd round pick because he had a phenomenal workout, including putting up 36 reps in the bench press despite having arms nearly an inch and a half longer than Armstead’s.

    Armstead still possesses enough size, talent and skill to be drafted by an NFL team, of course, and 24 reps isn’t necessarily too low to play the position, but is disappointing for a man his size. He has a chance to impress again tomorrow in the rest of his position workouts, but that bench press number may keep him from being more than a 4th round pick.

    5. Vic Beasley’s Upper-Body Strength is Impressive

    Clemson’s Vic Beasley, who worked out with defensive linemen but projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level because of his relatively small size (6’3″, 246 pounds), has clearly been in the weightroom down at Death Valley. He put up an astounding 35 reps in the bench press, tied for best among all defensive linemen in the drill.

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  • With the Raiders having spent 30 minutes with Randy Gregory during individual interviews, there’s some chance that Regge McKenzie might be looking to add yet another pass-rusher at the top of the first round. While Beasley’s best fit is as a traditional 3-4 rush linebacker or an “over” linebacker in a 4-3 set – where Khalil Mack played last season – with his impressive upper-body strength he makes a strong case for a player who could line up with his hand in the ground as a 7 or 9 technique 4-3 defensive end, as well.

    Beasley shows great speed and moves as an edge rusher on tape, and will likely grade out as one of the quickest and fastest defensive linemen in this draft after tomorrow’s drills are run. While the knock on him is that he may not be big and physical enough to be an every-down player right away, a stellar bench press performance suggests that he can, especially if he marries it to a strong showing in the broad jump tomorrow. Keep an eye on Vic Beasley.