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QB Stock Report: Cousins, Jefferson improve draft grades

NFL quarterbacks are the most scrutinized athletes in professional sports. Inherently, signal callers annually garner much of the attention at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Unfortunately, QB field work at this yearly event is not overly helpful to the hundreds of scouts in attendance. Some of the top prospects decide not to throw until their respective pro days, and the quarterbacks who do throw aren't facing any defense.

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The top two quarterbacks attending the 2012 edition of the combine -- Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III -- decided to hold off until March to throw for scouts, but they did not disappoint with their workouts and interviews in Indy.

And while most of the other 17 quarterbacks in Indianapolis also threw and worked out, two made positive impressions on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf that improved their draft stocks.

Without further ado, here are the four combine "winners" at the quarterback position:

Andrew Luck, Stanford: The 2011 Walter Camp Player of the Year measured almost exactly as Stanford's Web site listed him (6-foot-4, 234 pounds) and also met expectations in his other measurements (like his 10-inch hands). And though scouts knew he was a very good athlete, he exceeded expectations in the workout portion: 4.67 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical leap, 10-foot-4 broad jump, 4.28 20-yard shuttle and 6.80 three-cone. So although the prohibitive No. 1 pick didn't throw, his combine performance somehow still managed to improve his draft stock.

Draft projection: First overall pick.

Robert Griffin III, Baylor: The reigning Heisman Trophy winner's 4.41 40-yard dash made headlines, and his 39-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump (which could have been further if he had lowered his trajectory) simply confirmed the former track star's superior athleticism. But his most important numbers may have come from the measuring tape during the weigh-in; his official height of 6-2 3/8 is an inch or two higher than many scouts expected. Now that size is no longer an issue (he was a solid 223 pounds), the Browns, Redskins and Dolphins could offer a king's ransom to St. Louis for the No. 2 overall selection (and the rights to RGIII).

Draft projection: Second overall pick.

Kirk Cousins, Michigan State: Cousins has never been considered a "plus" athlete, so his average test results (4.93 40, 28 1/2-inch vertical, 9-foot-1 broad jump) were no surprise. His exceptional character came through in team interviews, however, and he threw the ball as well as any of the second-tier prospects. The three-year Michigan State captain could be in the mix as a second-round pick for teams unable to land Luck, Griffin or presumptive third QB Ryan Tannehill.

Draft projection: Second round.

Jordan Jefferson, LSU: Jefferson always has had the physical attributes scouts look for at the quarterback position, as proved in Indy by his 6-4 1/8, 223-pound frame, 10 1/4-inch hands, 4.65 40-yard dash, 36 1/2-inch vertical and receiver-like 4.06 20-yard shuttle. He even put up 225 pounds 14 times on the bench press, a test most quarterbacks choose not to perform. The way the ball came out of his hand while he was throwing to receivers Sunday also reminded scouts of arm strength that can stretch defenses in a vertical attack. His game tape isn't exemplary, but the skill set he showed in Indianapolis will probably be enough to see him drafted in April -- possibly higher than some expect, due to a lack of promising mid-to-late-round quarterback prospects.

Draft projection: Fifth round.

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @ChadReuter

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