Greg Robinson and Jadeveon Clowney each arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium last week already in consideration as the best players at their respective positions leading up to May’s NFL draft. At the conclusion of the NFL Combine, the duo saw their potential draft stock only rise.
Robinson joins Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan at the top of the 2014’s class of tackles, but no offensive lineman—and perhaps no player—made as big a splash as Auburn University’s left tackle.
Robinson, who served as Auburn’s premier run blocker during their run to the BCS Championship game last season, impressed league scouts and executives with a scintillating performance last Saturday. The 6’5”, 332-pound tackle moved effortlessly through the various agility drills, and ran the 40-yard dash at 4.92 seconds, which ranked among the best at his position.
Clowney, who took college football by storm with 13.5 sacks as a sophomore at South Carolina, showed the athleticism that has some mock drafts predicting him to be chosen with the first overall pick in May.
A 6’5”, 266-pound defensive end, Clowney displayed yet again why he is widely considered one of the most dynamic prospects on the defensive side of the ball in years. His 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds easily exceeded that of his defensive line contemporaries.
Other positional high-performers included Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who also entered this week considered one of the best at his position. Bortles, however, did not have the opportunity to measure up against fellow potential top-five quarterbacks in Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Bridgewater and Manziel each declined to throw at the Combine, deciding instead to save that portion of their workout for their respective pro days.
Among receivers, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins appeared to be every bit the top-10 draft prospect that he was projected as entering the Combine. Watkins, who stands just a shade under 6’1” and weighed in at 212 pounds, ran his 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.
Additionally, Watkins has gained notoriety as a physical receiver that plays bigger than his frame would suggest, a notion that was supported by his position-best results in bench press (16 reps at 225 pounds) and broad jump (10 feet, six inches). When adding his standing as one of college football’s most productive players in 2013 with 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns, Watkins crafted a crystal-clear picture as to why his is arguably the most sought-after receiver in this year’s draft.
The performances of Watkins, Clowney and Robinson will undoubtedly create difficult decisions among teams not in the market for a quarterback, yet possessing high first-round picks. With QB
With many other positions under consideration for the second overall choice, the performances of some of the draft’s top talent have created only one bit of clarity—there’s hardly a bad choice available.