Matt Barkley taller than expected; Christine Michael turns heads


INDIANAPOLIS -- Daniel Jeremiah is in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, checking out prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft. Here is the latest scuttlebutt from Lucas Oil Stadium:

» Matt Barkley is taller than expected. Scouts measured the USC signal-caller at 6-foot-1 7/8 last spring, but Barkley checked in at 6-2 1/2 on Friday. That might not seem like a drastic difference, but it does help alleviate some concerns among evaluators about Barkley's size. In fact, he checked in 1/8 of an inch taller than West Virginia's Geno Smith. Scouts are always interested in quarterback hand size, and Barkley's were among the biggest at 10 1/8 inches.

» Tavon Austin is a name to watch in Indianapolis. In talking with several NFL executives, Austin is a name that continues to pop up. The West Virginia receiver's explosive skill set has teams excited about his pro potential. Yesterday, Austin checked in at 5-8 1/2 and 174 pounds. I've compared his quickness and change-of-direction skills to those of Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson. And size-wise, Austin isn't that far off those two talented playmakers; coming out of college, Harvin checked in at 5-11 1/8 and 185 pounds, while Jackson was 5-9 3/4, 170. If Austin can post a similar 40-yard dash time (Harvin clocked in at 4.41 seconds, Jackson at 4.38), he could solidify his place in the first round of the draft.

» Christine Michael was the best-looking running back at weigh-ins. Following an up-and-down career at Texas A&M, Michael has seen his draft stock soar in the postseason. He had an impressive week of practices at the East-West Shrine Game and created a lot of buzz with evaluators at Friday's weigh-ins. Michael checked in at 5-10 and a rocked-up 220 pounds. He is expected to keep the momentum going by testing extremely well in Sunday's on-field action.

» The top offensive tackles continue to impress. This draft class possesses three outstanding offensive tackles. Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson should all be selected in the top 15 picks of April's draft. All three have stood out during the early portion of the combine. Their size and strength numbers are almost identical:

Joeckel: 6-6, 306 pounds, 27 reps of 225.
Fisher: 6-7 1/4, 306 pounds, 27 reps.
Johnson: 6-6, 303 pounds, 28 reps.

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» The two Tennessee wide receivers made vastly different impressions during the weigh-ins. Justin Hunter is a silky smooth athlete on tape, but an alarming number of dropped passes has evaluators concerned about his hands. And now, there is another point of issue: Several team sources expressed concerns about Hunter's thin frame following weigh-ins, as he checked in at 6-4 and just 196 pounds. Meanwhile, Cordarrelle Patterson was measured at 6-1 7/8 and looked physically imposing at 216 pounds.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.



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