With combine over, NFL execs ponder

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The combine finished on Monday, and now NFL coaches and executives return to their offices with a better sense of the draft prospects two months before the draft.

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The highlight of the on-field work at the combine usually involves quarterbacks, and all the top quarterbacks went through passing drills on Saturday. The only one missing was Ohio State’s Cardale Jones, who came up limping after the 40-yard dash. But the top three quarterbacks – North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, Cal’s Jared Goff and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch – worked out in front of 32 teams.

“It was pretty much as advertised,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after the workouts. “Carson Wentz has been under center. . . . He’s got good footwork because he’s been under center. . . . He’s got good arm strength. I thought he was very solid [on Saturday]. Same thing with Goff from Cal. Quick feet, quick release, doesn’t have the arm strength that maybe Paxton Lynch does or Wentz has, but you can see everything you want from a quarterback that’s ready to play today.

“Paxton Lynch looks to me like – and I spent a couple of hours with him a couple weeks ago, watching tape with him and watching him on the field – they’re building him from the ground up. He’s never been under center in his life. He’s got a lot he’s got to learn. He’s working hard at it. And when he gets his footwork lined up the right way, that arm strength is elite.”

Lynch, who could be available to the Eagles at No. 13, met with the team in a formal interview, according to agent Leigh Steinberg.

On the offensive line, Mayock said potential No. 1 pick Laremy Tunsil was like “poetry in motion,” showing off his feet and movement skills. A player who helped himself was Indiana’s Jason Spriggs, one of the top linemen in athletic testing who also impressed coaches with his on-field work.

A weak area among the offensive players was wide receiver, where the class is not as strong as recent years. The fastest receiver was Notre Dame’s Will Fuller, a Philadelphia native who went to Roman Catholic High School. But he was one of only two receivers who ran faster than 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. The average time was 4.56 seconds, which was the slowest average of the last five years.

“What was surprising to me was the wide receiver class as a whole, how slow they were,” Mayock said.

On defense, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa ran the 40 in 4.86 seconds. He was also among the top performers in the broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard drill, and his on-field work did nothing to change his status as one of the top players in the draft.

Two of the top linebackers in the draft – UCLA’s Myles Jack and Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith – could not perform at the combine because of injuries. Their medical testing and interviews were important parts of the week. Jack is expected to be ready by UCLA’s Pro Day, but Smith’s injury could be more of a concern.

In the defensive backfield, Ohio State’s Eli Apple helped himself in Indianapolis. The Voorhees native and Eastern High alum ran the 40 in 4.40 seconds – the sixth fastest of all cornerbacks – and he flashed impressive ball skills during the drills.

The draft is April 28-30 in Chicago. The Eagles currently have nine selections.

TNS

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