Commentary

Combine: Day 5 observations

Luck, RG3 are clearly the stars of the draft; running back group lacks pizazz

Originally Published: February 26, 2012
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Strategy is everything when it comes to scouting combines.

Agents who represent draft prospects have to be judicious with their advice. Many of them front tens of thousands of dollars to train their prospects for either the combine or their school workouts. And their investments could go bad if they make the wrong suggestion.

Because the combine workouts are televised, most of the prospects participate due to their competitive nature, as well as a chance to be introduced as the next great player to hit the NFL. Not doing the combine can be dangerous because it can put a player into the position of needing the equivalent of a home run at their school's workout.

On Sunday, those who didn't work out weren't damaged. The top quarterbacks and the top running back (Trent Richardson of Alabama) didn't drop a bit.

Here are the five things we learned Sunday.

1. Future matchups between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be fun to watch: In what is expected to be the Luck's home, RG3 put on his second show. Griffin won the news conference by stringing together 15 minutes of answers that, in my opinion, surpassed any combine interview I've witnessed in 24 years covering this event. Even though he didn't throw Sunday, Griffin wowed everyone by running an official 40-yard dash time of 4.41 seconds, as well as a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10.3 broad jump. It was one of the fastest 40-yard times in combine history for a quarterback.

Even though that won't vault him over Luck to be the No. 1 pick, it should enhance the trade value of the No. 2 pick. No disrespect to Matt Kalil, Justin Blackmon or any of the other top picks, but this is a two-player draft -- Luck and Griffin. Not to be undone, Luck did well himself without throwing. He ran an official 4.67 40-yard dash. Plus, his vertical jump of 36 inches was slightly better than Cam Newton last year.

2. What did the weekend do to handicap the trade talks for the St. Louis Rams at No. 2? I'd handicap it as a two-team bidding war for Griffin. The Rams, who draft second, have to broker a strong deal and should be able to pull it off. The price of the trade would exceed the traditional draft value trade chart that was started by former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson in the 1990s. The No. 2 pick in the first round has a value of 2,600. The No. 4 pick, currently owned by the Cleveland Browns, is 1,800. The Redskins' No. 6 pick has a value of 1,600.

In order to put a trade together under those terms, the Browns would have to offer a draft value of 800, which equates to the 21st pick in the first round. The Redskins would have to offer 1,000, which would be an additional first-rounder and a third-rounder. For Griffin, it would probably cost the Browns at least the additional first and a significant draft choice in 2013, maybe a third or higher. The Redskins then would have to offer the equivalent of three first-round picks. The Dolphins and Seahawks might as well forget about bidding because the price for RG3 would be too high.

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireMichigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins could be the big winner from the combine on Sunday.
3. Sorting out the third quarterback in the draft: The big winner Sunday was Kirk Cousins of Michigan State. He completed 14 of 16 passes, but none of his throws were off target. He missed on a slant route to his left, but the throw wasn't awful. A turn-in to his right didn't sync up with a receiver, but it wasn't bad, either. Other than that, he could make every throw. His deep passes had good spin on the football. His throws to the middle of the field were strong and accurate. Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M and Brock Osweiler of Arizona State didn't work out because of foot injuries. Based on the way things went Sunday, it looks as though Tannehill, Osweiler and Cousins are competing for the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 spots among quarterbacks. Osweiler's the wild card. He's a 6-foot-6 quarterback with mobility and a decent arm. You get the feeling that Tannehill is the one quarterback of the three who could go in the first round, but more will be determined in school workouts and how the offseason goes for quarterback acquisitions.

Brandon Weedon of Oklahoma State was inconsistent with his throwing Sunday, hitting on 16 of 28 passes. He looked good throwing to his left but wasn't accurate on his deep balls. Russell Wilson of Wisconsin was one of the best throwers of the day, but his 5-10 stature may keep him in the middle rounds.

4. Trying to catch Blackmon as the top wide receiver: Michael Floyd of Notre Dame moved closer to the No. 2 receiver spot in the draft behind Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State. Floyd ran an official time of 4.47 seconds and measured out at 6-2 5/8, 220 pounds, but had unofficial times of 4.42 and 4.44. That's fast enough for a big guy. But he caught just about everything, looking very impressive in a gauntlet drill in which seven different quarterbacks fired passes at him.

Blackmon didn't run because of a hamstring injury, but he did do the drills. Likely because of the hamstring injury, he didn't go full out for speed and didn't show the catching flair Floyd did. Still, Blackman is No. 1 among the receivers. Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech might have moved into the first round by running an official 40 of 4.36 seconds, and catching the ball well. Tommy Streeter of Miami also helped himself with a 4.4 40 official time and showcased some catching skills in those drills.

5. Minus Trent Richardson, the running back group lacked excitement: Of course, last year's running back group had one headliner -- Mark Ingram of Alabama. Richardson couldn't work out because of a recent minor knee injury that will sideline him until his March 27 workout. David Wilson of Virginia Tech (4.49 40) and Lamar Miller of Miami, FL (4.4 40) may have locked up the Nos. 2 and 3 running back spots, but their distance isn't much ahead of Isaiah Pead of Cincinnati (4.47), Chris Polk of Washington (4.57, although the NFL Network had him at 4.46) and LaMichael James of Oregon (4.45). Doug Martin of Boise State didn't hurt himself with a 4.55, with the NFL Network having him with one time of 4.47. It's not a bad group, but it might not be enough to convince many teams to use first-round picks on them. Richardson is the one star of the group.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Follow Clayton on Twitter @ClaytonESPN

John Clayton

NFL senior writer