Combine Day 4: RGIII Wows Them With His Speed; Other Notes

Posted Feb 26, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS – Before most of the country was fully awake on Sunday, the suspense surrounding what would be the takeaway moment of the NFL Scouting Combine was erased by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

With the second of two seemingly effortless sprints in the 40-yard dash, the 2012 Olympic hopeful in the hurdles stopped the presses with a time of 4.41 seconds. That was the fastest time run by a quarterback at the Combine in 12 years, second only to Michael Vick’s 4.33 back in 2001.

“I think there’s a possibility that I go under 4.4,” Griffin said on Friday. “But I’m a quarterback so I’ve just got to throw the ball. The running’s extra.”

Griffin’s prediction actually came true for a couple of hours when the unofficial time of his second sprint read 4.38 seconds. That would have made him just the second quarterback besides Vick to go sub-4.4, but he lost three-hundredths of a second when the computers returned the official adjusted time.

The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t finished by any means, however, recording the best vertical jump of all the quarterbacks at 39 inches. He was beaten out by Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the broad jump by four inches as Luck’s best jump was 10 feet, 4 inches and Griffin’s best was an even 10 feet.

Of course as Griffin so aptly pointed out, the most important facet of his and Luck’s game is their ability to throw the ball and neither one put their arms on display today on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. They have opted to wait until their respective Pro Days to show the scouts, coaches and general managers what they can do in that very important category, as has the quarterback ranked right behind them, Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. Luck has an impressive list of past and present NFL quarterbacks he looks up to, all who know how to throw the ball.

“John Elway because of the Stanford connection of course is at the top of the list along with my father (Oliver Luck),” said Luck, who ran a 4.67 in the 40 and had a 36-inch vertical leap. “These past sort of two years all of the quarterbacks at Stanford sat down and tried to watch as much NFL film as we can.

“We try to take bits and pieces of Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and see what they do, why they’re successful and try to apply it to our game. Obviously, you can’t take everything because what they do is light years beyond some of us. Hopefully, some day I can be up there with them but I try to take bits and pieces of what the successful guys are doing.”

Now Tannehill, who is recovering from foot surgery, did provide a little taste to those watching from the stands during the passing gauntlet drill. That’s when the wide receivers run from sideline to sideline catching passes from eight quarterbacks, four on each side to show off their hands. Tannehill was the second thrower each time from the spot where the receiver is stationary, so he didn’t have to put much weight or pressure on his foot.

Oddly enough for Tannehill his challenge is the opposite of the Griffin’s since he only had full season as a starting quarterback for the Aggies. He needs to pass the visual test on the field, which is why this week was important and now his Pro Day is even more important. Griffin wanted to really impress in the interviews, which comes easy to him, so his performance on the field was an added bonus.

MORE FROM BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Sunday was the only day select members of the print media were allowed to view the action on the field, and this year they were joined by some lucky fans. It was a chance to get a feel of what the NFL teams are seeing from a similar vantage point.

The 40-yard dash is the 40-yard dash, but where these prospects really got to separate themselves and open some eyes was in the passing drills, with the receivers being asked to run a variety of routes and the quarterbacks needing to show they can throw accurately.

Among the notable quarterbacks that did throw, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden looked the sharpest, especially on the 6-route, which is a 15-yard in cut and go. He showed a lot of zip and accuracy on his throws and then on the deep go route he showed nice ball placement. The only route that gave Weeden trouble was the post-corner as he was a little off the mark on his throws.

Little known wide receiver Devon Wylie definitely helped his cause as he stood out from the very beginning, running a 4.39 in the 40. He was nearly flawless in the gauntlet displaying sure hands and quickness, and then he showed his athleticism on the slant-and-go when he had to leave his feet and reel in a pass that was high and behind him. Like Weeden, the post-corner gave Wylie problems as he had some missteps running the route.

But it was LSU’s Rueben Randle who made the play of the day for the second group of quarterbacks and wide receivers, and it came on that dreaded post-corner route. Just when it looked like there was no way he could catch up the throw near the sideline, Randle reached out at the last second and snatched the ball with his fingertips, drawing some oohs and ahs from the crowd.

The media contingent was led out of the seating area just as the running backs were finishing their warm-ups and stretching, so it was back to the television sets for that.
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