Watching the Detectives

Covering the Combine from the inside is surreal enough, but things get really special if you're one of about 60 writers allowed to head into one of the boxes at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday morning or afternoon to watch one of two quarterback/receiver workouts. For the second straight year, I got to go in, was assigned a player to write about as a contribution to a pool report (this year I doubled up), and spent the next two hours or so observing the players on the field and the scouts, coaches and execs in the stands.

I sat next to Eric Wililams of the Tacoma News Tribune. Eric (who's doing a great job over there, by the way) put his pool report up, and I thought I'd do the same.

My quarterback was Purdue's Curtis Painter:

Good size and muscle definition. Very slow start to both of his 40s -- came out of the blocks with a distinct pause. His 10- and 20-yard splits are not going to be pretty. Had a very upright throwing motion on the gauntlet -- threw too high a few times.

Painter has a great ability to adjust his throws to his receiver's speed - he matched up well with different receivers on different routes. On the deep in from the 15 to the 35, the timing was a bit off on the first and fine on the second. Both of his 30-yard outs were great accurate arc on the ball and the receivers didn't have to slow down or adjust their turns. He was 1 for 2 on the 45-yard go and the 10-yard corner, but had nice timing on both 12-yard curl/comebacks. Two great throws on the post corner routes -- again, excellent timing and sense of receiver speed.

My receiver was Oregon's Jaison Williams:

Williams' size seems to work against him -- he has good definition and strength, but struggles on any route requiring any level of quickness. His two 40s were marked by solid starts, choppy steps and an upright stance.

On the short sideline comeback, he was slow with the cut and too deliberate with the tap-tap before out of bounds. On the 30-yard go route, he almost came to a dead stop when turning around to track the ball. He just isn't comfortable with speed. Slow on the gauntlet, dropped a few passes, struggled to stay on the line, and again was deliberate at the sideline. On the 10-yard out with cut at the 25, he was cleaner with the cut but dropped a tough but catchable ball. He did a good cut on the 35-yard deep in and dropped a ball eight in his hands. Choppy route on the 12-yard curl/comeback. He jumped to the ball too soon on the 30-yard post corner -- if he'd kept running, he would have caught the ball in stride.

NFLDraftScout.com sees Painter as a late-second-day pick, if draftable at all. And there are serious questions about the NFL viability of a guy who can't blow it up even with the training wheels that the spread offense provides. Still, I can't help but wonder if Painter's ability to adjust accurately to his circumstances might not help him in some way.

NFLDS saw Williams as a maddening underachiever -- I saw a guy with tight end size who was about as mobile as Floyd Womack. In a word, yikes.

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