The Good, The Bad and The Future

A View From The Perch

March 7th, 2017

This is a weekly column from Brian Paratore that reflects on the highs and lows around sports and what to watch for in the days to come.

It has been a month since Super Bowl 51 and the NFL is in the spotlight again this week with the NFL Scouting Combine that just wrapped up in Indianapolis and NFL Free Agency set to begin on Thursday. Therefore, this week's column will highlight the players that stood out in Indy. DeShaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky were fine. There were some offensive linemen like Garrett Boles and Forrest Lamp that impressed. But with quarterbacks not facing a pass rush or a defense at all and the o-line not able to get nasty with anyone, there wasn't anything noteworthy enough to include below. There were many strong performances overall. These were the ones that caught my attention most.

The Good

John Ross | WR | Washington

Height: 5'11"   Weight: 188   Arm Length: 31.5"   Hand Size: 8.75"

40 Time: 4.22   Vertical: 37"   Bench: DNP   Broad Jump: 11'1"   3-Cone: DNP

It was never a question of whether or not John Ross was fast. The only question was how fast. He answered that emphatically on Friday in a modern combine record 4.22 seconds. That type of speed - along with the production he displayed at Washington - is a good bet to lock Ross into a top-20 overall pick in April. Another good bet would be a team desperate for help on the outside trading into the top 10 of the draft for the classic overreach. I personally wouldn't recommend taking a WR that high that lacks bigger size than the slender 188 pound frame on Ross. But wow can he fly.

Myles Garrett | EDGE | Texas A&M

Height: 6'4"   Weight: 272   Arm Length: 35.25"   Hand Size: 10.25"

40 Time: 4.64   Vertical: 41"   Bench: 33 reps   Broad Jump: 10'8"   3-Cone: DNP

The tape didn't lie. Myles Garrett is a freak. Measuring in at a healthy 6'4" and 272 pounds, Garrett ran a 4.64 40 and jumped 41 inches high. He benched 225 pounds 33 times. He moved very well in the on-field drills. If the Browns, in vintage Cleveland fashion, take a QB first overall instead of Garrett they should do their fans a favor and move the team to another city so they can wait five years for another expansion team.

Jordan Willis | EDGE | Kansas State

Height: 6'4"   Weight: 255   Arm Length: 33.5"   Hand Size: 9.88"

40 Time: 4.53   Vertical: 39"   Bench: 24 reps   Broad Jump: 10'5"   3-Cone: 6.85

Willis has the makings of a premier player off the edge in the NFL. The 6'4" 255 pounder out of Kansas State tested positive for explosive. His 4.53 40 time was 0.01 seconds behind Temple's Haason Reddick (4.52) for the fastest time of the Edge Defenders in Indy. His 3-Cone drill time of 6.85 was the quickest of that group, as well. The 2016 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year's vertical of 39" was two inches behind Myles Garrett (41") for the tops of the edge group.

O.J. Howard | TE | Alabama

Height: 6'6"   Weight: 251   Arm Length: 33.75"   Hand Size: 10"

40 Time: 4.51   Vertical: 30"   Bench: 22 reps   Broad Jump: 10'1"   3-Cone: 6.85

O.J. Howard was a dominant blocker at Alabama. He showed flashes of great receiving potential in Tuscaloosa, but was never consistently featured in the Tide offense. There will likely be plenty of GM believers in what Howard can do in the passing game after his showing at the combine. He checked in at 6'6" and 251 pounds, tied for the tallest TE there. His 4.51 forty time was second best among tight ends and his 6.85 3-cone time was the quickest of the group.

Christian McCaffrey | RB | Stanford

Height: 5'11"   Weight: 202   Arm Length: 30"   Hand Size: 9"

40 Time: 4.48   Vertical: DNP   Bench: 10 reps   Broad Jump: 10'1"   3-Cone: 6.57

McCaffrey only managed 10 reps on the bench press, but performed very well in every other area. The change of direction quickness displayed in his 6.57 3-cone drill time was by far the best of the running backs. His 40 time of 4.48 was impressive and actually 0.01 faster than Dalvin Cook. McCaffrey also was excellent in the on-field receiving drills, showing the all-around skills that make him the most talented pass catcher out of the backfield in this class.

Obi Melifonwu | S | Connecticut

Height: 6'4"   Weight: 224   Arm Length: 32.5"   Hand Size: 9.13"

40 Time: 4.40   Vertical: 44"   Bench: 17 reps   Broad Jump: 11'9"   3-Cone: DNP

Two years ago it was a relatively unknown UConn DB who shocked the combine with eye-popping leaping ability when Byron Jones had a 44.5" vertical and a world record setting 12'3" broad jump. This year another UConn DB almost matched him. Obi Melifonwu measured in as a gigantic 6'4" 224 pound safety prospect. He had the best vertical jump (44") and broad jump (11'9") of any prospect in Indianapolis. His 4.40 time in the 40 was the fastest of any safety there. That's how you boost a draft stock.

Bucky Hodges | TE | Virginia Tech

Height: 6'6"   Weight: 257   Arm Length: 32.5"   Hand Size: 10.13"

40 Time: 4.57   Vertical: 39"   Bench: 18 reps   Broad Jump: 11'2"   3-Cone: DNP

Hodges came in as one of the largest tight end prospects in the draft at 6'6" 257 pounds. He combined that with excellent athletic testing in Indy. His 39" vertical and 11'2" broad jump were both the best marks by tight ends. Additionally, Hodges blazed a 4.57 40 yard dash and has a great shot to go off the board on Day 2 of the draft.

Solomon Thomas | DE | Stanford

Height: 6'3"   Weight: 273   Arm Length: 33"   Hand Size: 9.38"

40 Time: 4.69   Vertical: 35"   Bench: 30 reps   Broad Jump: 10'6"   3-Cone: 6.95

Solomon Thomas was a terror on the field for offenses while at Stanford. He demo'd the tools he used to do that with by showing great speed (4.69 40 yard dash), power (30 bench press reps) and quickness (6.95 3-cone time). He is going to make some GM look very smart next season.

Curtis Samuel | WR | Ohio State

Height: 5'11"   Weight: 196   Arm Length: 31.25"   Hand Size: 9.5"

40 Time: 4.31   Vertical: 37"   Bench: 18 reps   Broad Jump: 9'11"   3-Cone: 7.09

Samuel didn't display desirable change of direction ability with his 7.09 3-cone time, but his 4.31 second beauty of a 40 was the fastest receiver time after Ross. His 18 bench press reps were impressive for his 5'11" 196 pound frame and his 37" vertical was among the top receiver leaps.

Evan Engram | TE | Ole Miss

Height: 6'3"   Weight: 234   Arm Length: 33.5"   Hand Size: 10"

40 Time: 4.42   Vertical: 36"   Bench: 19 reps   Broad Jump: 10'5"   3-Cone: 6.92

Engram is the type of tight end that will typically be used as a receiver on the outside of the line, as he is not the biggest prospect at 6'3" 234 pounds. But he is a mismatch waiting to happen. Engram posted a ridiculous 4.42 time in the 40 that was by far the fastest of the tight ends. His 6.92 time in the 3-cone drill was the second quickest behind only O.J. Howard.

The Bad

Reuben Foster | LB | Alabama

Height: 6'0"   Weight: 229   Arm Length: 32.38"   Hand Size: 10.25"

40 Time: DNP   Vertical: DNP   Bench: DNP   Broad Jump: DNP   3-Cone: DNP

It may not ultimately affect where he goes in the draft, but getting sent home from the combine after an argument with a hospital worker is not what Reuben Foster wants to be remembered for from the week in Indianapolis. He was not expected to participate in drills due to rotator cuff surgery, but the early dismissal denied teams from being able to interview the rangy Alabama linebacker. They'll likely have some new questions for him.

Teez Tabor | CB | Florida

Height: 6'0"   Weight: 199   Arm Length: 32"   Hand Size: 8.63"

40 Time: 4.62   Vertical: 31"   Bench: 9 reps   Broad Jump: 10'0"   3-Cone: DNP

It went about as bad as possible for the one time top 10 projected CB. He ran the slowest 40 yard dash time of any corner in Indy (4.62). Only one corner (Cordrea Tankersley) had a lower vertical jump than Tabor's 31". Only one corner (Channing Stribling) did worse on the bench press. He even has small hands. He really should've just stayed home.

Corey Clement | RB | Wisconsin

Height: 5'10"   Weight: 220   Arm Length: 30.5"   Hand Size: 9.75"

40 Time: 4.68   Vertical: DNP   Bench: 19 reps   Broad Jump: 9'7"   3-Cone: DNP

Wisconsin's 11th all-time leading rusher (that's actually impressive considering the school) needed a better 40 time than the 4.68 he produced. It will likely be a long wait on Day 3 of the draft for Clement and may look to make the most of a opportunity as an undrafted free agent.

The Future

NFL Free Agency Begins | Thursday, March 9th

At 4pm ET on Thursday, NFL teams will be able sign free agents. The Browns, 49ers, Jaguars, Bucs and Titans have the most cash to spend. You can view NFL.com's list of Top 101 Available Free Agents, Free Agents By Position and Free Agents By Team. The available players according to PFF's 2016 grades and where they are signing are in the PFF 2017 Free Agency Tracker.

College Basketball Conference Championship Week

ACC Championship Game: Saturday at 9pm ET (ESPN)

Big 12 Championship Game: Saturday at 6pm ET (ESPN)

Big East Championship Game: Saturday at 5:30pm ET (FOX)

Big Ten Championship Game: Sunday at 3pm ET (CBS)

Pac-12 Championship Game: Saturday at 11pm ET (ESPN)

SEC Championship Game: Sunday at 1pm ET (ESPN)

Selection Sunday: Sunday at 5:30pm ET (CBS)

Follow the drama this week with regularly updated Bracketology analysis from ESPN and CBS Sports. View the conference tournament brackets here.

Best NBA Matchups To Watch

Celtics at Warriors: Wednesday at 10:30pm ET (ESPN)

Spurs at Thunder: Thursday at 8pm ET (TNT)

Warriors at Spurs: Saturday at 8:30pm ET (ABC)

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