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Day 1 NFL Combine winners and losers: Spriggs, Conklin excel

Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is spotlighting the prospects who make a mark -- for better or worse -- at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. On Friday, the offensive linemen and running backs took the field. Here are Brooks' impressions from Indianapolis:


Jason Spriggs, offensive tackle, Indiana: The Hoosiers' standout is squarely in the first-round conversation after displaying exceptional speed and athleticism on the turf. Spriggs clocked the best 40 time among offensive linemen (4.94) and flashed ballerina-like quickness during drills. He easily executed turns and transitions during positional drills. Most importantly, he showed good balance and body control shuffling laterally on the kick-and-slide and mirror drills. Given the number of teams in need of a pure left tackle, Spriggs' performance certainly could make him a Day 1 selection in April.

Jack Conklin, offensive tackle, Michigan State: The former walk-on surprised scouts with his athleticism, balance and body control. He showcased exceptional agility and movement skills in bag drills, while also displaying light feet and swivel hips in change-of-direction drills. With Conklin also posting a 5.00-second time in the 40-yard dash and showing short-area explosiveness in the agility drills, Friday was a fine day for the Michigan State product.

Kenyan Drake, running back, Alabama: After living in Derrick Henry's shadow in Tuscaloosa, Drake is suddenly in the spotlight following his strong performance on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. He posted back-to-back 4.4s in the 40 and flashed exceptional balance, body control and burst in positional drills. Drake looks like a third-down back with the potential to make immediate contributions as part of a diverse RB rotation.


Alex Collins, running back, Arkansas: Collins was slotted as the third running back on most boards heading into the combine, but a lackluster showing on Friday could put his position in peril. Collins showed minimal explosiveness in athletic drills (28.5-inch vertical jump, 4.59-second 40-yard dash) and struggled snagging passes during positional drills. He appeared to fight the ball as a pass catcher, and it is hard to envision him making a strong contribution to any team's passing game. Considering how offensive coordinators covet a dynamic multi-purpose back, Collins' limitations in the aerial attack could sink his value on draft boards around the league.

Vadal Alexander, offensive tackle/guard, LSU: The LSU standout was expected to make a jump up the charts following a strong performance at the combine, but his disappointing showing could lead to a bit of a drop instead. Alexander appeared heavy-legged in positional drills and his pedestrian 40 time (5.57) will lead scouts to question his ability to play on the outside.

Kelvin Taylor, running back, Florida: The early entrant was a bit of an unknown commodity heading into Indy, but his legacy (as Fred Taylor's son) fueled expectations of a strong performance this weekend. However, Taylor didn't deliver the goods with a poor 40 time (4.60) and a lackluster showing in drills (too many dropped passes), leading to more questions about his fit as a feature back.

Biggest subplot entering Saturday's workout

All eyes will be squarely on the Jared Goff-vs.-Carson Wentz competition that will take place on the turf during quarterback drills. With several teams undecided on the consensus No. 1 prospect at the position, the throwing drills could determine which signal caller heads into the pro-day circuit as the top dog on most boards. Thus, scouts will scrutinize every dropback and throw to determine which prospect possesses the arm talent to merit consideration as the ultimate franchise quarterback.

Scouts also will pay close attention to the wild cards at the position. Are Christian Hackenberg and Cardale Jones worthy candidates to be development prospects? Both are considered strong-armed throwers with A-plus arm strength and talent, but inconsistent accuracy, ball placement and judgement have torpedoed their respective draft stocks heading into the combine. With a strong performance on the turf, however, both guys can change the narrative and enhance their value as potential Day 2 picks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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