As I settled into my seat on Thursday afternoon in Lucas Oil Stadium, I wasn't in a sit-on-the-edge-of-my-seat sort of mood as the testing portion of the Combine kicked off. That sounds like a strange statement coming from me, but I knew there were a number of 2022 NFL Draft prospects that weren't going to work out for the assembled scouts, analysts and fans. I wasn't depressed or anything morbid of that nature, I mean, it is the COMBINE, so I was still jacked but, I was more curious given the in-flux nature of the event over the past few weeks. The TE, QB and WR nearly ALL passed on the bench press. No QBs lifted and just three receivers (out of 40) participated in the bench press. So, Friday was a bit of a surprise.
And, it turned out to be a GREAT one. Here are my Harris Hits from Day 1 of testing from the Scouting Combine.
My favorite moment was perhaps the funniest of the entire week. At the bench press testing, the prospects that aren't testing are asked to face the scouts, give their name, reason for not testing (most by choice), the date of their Pro Day and whether they'd work out at their Pro Day. A potential first round receiver stepped up and followed instructions stating that he wasn't benching by choice. He handed the mic back to the scout leading the bench when the scout asked whether the receiver was going to bench at his Pro Day. The receiver looked at the scout, grabbed the mic with this look on his face and went…"Nah." Well, okay, then.
The bench press was seemingly one of those events sacrificed, for lack of a better term, by the prospects. The change in the Combine schedule which put the bench press and on-field workouts on the same day created a decision in most guys' minds. Tulsa WR Josh Johnson was one of the three WR that benched, but he did not work out on the field. Suffice to say, a different dynamic was created this year for sure.
Virginia TE Jelani Woods was a definite winner on the day and not because he was one of the few prospects that benched AND worked out on Thursday. He put up 24 bench press reps and ran a blazing 4.61 at 6-7, 259 lb. When Woods transferred to Virginia, he took his game to a higher level and the athleticism certainly flourished on Thursday.
The smallest, shortest player at the Combine was, perhaps, the biggest winner. Memphis' electric slot WR Calvin Austin III followed up an outstanding Senior Bowl performance with an even better Combine performance. Yes, let's be clear, he IS 5-8, 170 lb., but he also posted an 11-3 broad jump, a 39-inch vertical leap and an official 4.32 40-yard dash. He comes in at #99 in the Harris 100, only because he is 170 lb. But, he's a legit play-making weapon in the making.
Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton didn't run the fastest time in the history of the Combine, but at 4.28, he lit up the sideline of Lucas Oil Stadium for sure. His unofficial time came in at 4.21 which had everyone buzzing and it was smoking fast for sure. That time would've topped former Cincinnati Bengal WR John Ross's 4.22. Officially, he came in a shade slower than Ross's time at 4.28. Still, STILL, that was the fastest time for one of the fastest groups in some time at the Combine.
One of my favorite receivers in this group is Western Michigan's Skyy Moore (#62 currently in the Harris 100). He came in at 5-10, 195 lb., which isn't going to set the world on fire size-wise, but his game is much bigger than that. Furthermore, his testing was legit - 4.41 in the 40-yard dash, 34.5-inch vertical and 10-5 broad jump. During drills, he flashed even more - clean routes, caught everything and his gauntlet drill was ridiculously smooth.
North Dakota State WR Christian Watson (#68 in the Harris 100) was a guy I noticed studying former first round QB Trey Lance in 2019 but the pass-catcher is setting his own course in 2022. He lit up Mobile at the Senior Bowl and he did so in Indy on prime time Thursday night. At 6-4, 208 lb., he ran 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, posted a 38.5-inch vertical jump and a 11-4 broad jump. My gosh. Stud.
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder ran an official 4.52 40-yard dash, in addition to posting a 36-inch vertical and a 10-7 broad jump. Those three marks were the highest/best for all the QBs. The next closest QB, testing-wise, was Brown University QB E.J. Perry!! GO BRUNO!!
Speaking of Cincinnati, Ridder's go-to WR in 2021 was Alec Pierce. The Bearcat pass-catcher put on a show, not unexpectedly, though. Pierce ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, posted a WR-high 40.5 vertical jump and a 10-9 broad jump…at 6-3, 195 lb. Wow.
Purdue WR David Bell wasn't going to test magnificently well but his hands were on full display in the drills on the field. He made one catch where he snatched the BACK END OF THE FOOTBALL on a throw behind him. That catch was ridiculous and if anyone is scared off by his 40-time of 4.65, just know that the 2021 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp ran 4.62 back in 2017.
Alright, that'll do it for day number one. We'll see you on Friday for Day number two.